My Facebook feed slapped me in the face last night when it unceremoniously announced that an acquaintance had passed away less than a half hour before. (A friend had posted it under his account, as this is the fastest way to get news out these days. Facebook = town crier of immediate online obituaries.)
He and I had been introduced through a mutual friend a while back, having much in common: same undergrad but a few years apart, same taste in art and music, etc.
Our mutual friend had let me know privately that this very cool guy was also living with a colon cancer diagnosis, but that he wasn’t openly sharing it. I respected both her confidence and his right to not share it with the world of Facebook, and instead enjoyed images of his travels and mentions of bands he enjoyed.
He and I joked in private FB messages over the last year that I was following him out to the West Coast when our trips to the same city (and the same museums) were a week apart. “So close and yet so far away,” I laughed. “Next time,” he said.
Death is rude.
My acquaintance’s untimely death has impacted me harder than most. My feelings of sadness due to a life interrupted, my anger at a disease that has cost me friends and family, is amplified by the memory of another rude death: the creator of the podcast music behind diabeticfeed, the podcast that brought me to the DOC.
When John and I chose our music for the podcast, we had no idea that Derek also had Type 1 diabetes. We just thought his music was amazing. We interviewed him for an early diabeticfeed and I was struck by how amazingly talented he was… not only was he a musician and a brilliant blogger, but he was also pretty damn funny. We kept in touch on Facebook and when he was diagnosed with colon cancer, we were shocked. His death, when it finally came, was carefully announced on his blog, written by him and sent by his friends as a final message.
John and I have both had moments since his death that we don’t expect. A recommendation to follow him on Twitter under my new account. His music popping up on a random shuffle. A picture of him when his family posts on his Facebook page. There hasn’t been a single time when I haven’t heard the opening riff of his guitar when listening to an old diabeticfeed podcast that I haven’t thanked the universe for being so random. Then again, I don’t believe in random, so I’m not sure where that leaves me.
As we share our lives online, we also open ourselves up to the rudeness of death. It happens with our own diabetes online community. It happens in every community. Like I said… this post has nothing to do with diabetes… and everything to do with it.
And so I take a moment today to cry for those who thought that death wasn’t rude, but just simply impolite… and they went to travel with him.