Is it possible to love someone you’ve had one conversation with, separated by thousands of miles?
A long time ago, I met a man on Twitter who held my attention with his sense of humor and outlook on life. Unlike most people you meet in strange ways, you don’t feel a connection to them but this guy was different. Our conversation wasn’t intimate, and gathered dust with the most mundane back and forth chatter as most conversations go on a social media platform that only allows you to communicate 140 characters at a time.
Maybe it was his photo, his genuine smile lit up his avatar and he seemed present in the most honest way possible, I don’t know, but I instantly wanted to get to know him better. But there was a problem.
He was sick. Very sick. He needed a heart transplant for a defect he had been born with and before I could continue any online conversation, one day in March he posted this tweet:
I was, and I’m sure many people who knew him, very happy to read this news.
But then his twitter feed went quiet. I chalked up the silence to recovery. Who in their right mind would jump back on a computer after such an intensive operation, because this was before people posted every. little. action. on. their. accounts.
I sat back and waited a bit, but then a week or two went by and my life got busy as I focused on selling my first screenplay.
Every 6 months or so since then, I optimistically left his account untouched, as in I continued to follow it, hoping that maybe he lost his password or just gave up posting because he was too weak or too awesome too deal with it. A software I used would remind me that he hadn’t posted in over 6 months, and would I like to unfollow him, and I always refused.
Today I used that software again, perusing the people who had stopped using their accounts, deleting them as they came up one by one, and there he was again, that face, those eyes.
I began to wonder, what was a man like that doing now, now that he had his new heart. Why did he leave me on social media to wonder about him like this every season?
Then it finally hit me. Like a ton of bricks.
I remembered the area where he was from and started searching obituaries. I couldn’t find him and that lifted my spirits, if only for a few minutes until I placed his name and home town in Google.
He was gone. He died on the night he left what was his very last tweet. He never made it through his transplant operation. That kind face and those eyes left earth.
I’m grieving now for someone I never truly knew. Maybe it was the promise of getting to know someone you knew you would like is the source of sadness I feel. He had a lot to offer as a person, a writer, and I know his family probably misses him to this day.
If they ever come across this blog, know that people he didn’t really know still loved him.
In this digital age, I’ve learned it’s as important as ever to respect the loss you feel, or what another may feel, no matter what form it takes these days.
Virtual relationships are relationships in every sense of the word. Humans have huge hearts, there’s room for everyone, and if we acknowledge that, maybe we can be nicer to each other through the electricity that carries our thoughts and dreams.
For Euan Sharp. I hardly knew yah, but I loved yah.
1972 – 2010
If you want to know more about Euan’s life, his blog that leads up to his transplant announcement is still online.
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