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December 15, 2009


Oh, man. I'm sorry.

And there's nothing crazy about it at all.

I'm sorry about your friend, Sebastian. My condolences for your loss.

Then, what an obnoxious irony to have my last words to him be "stop coughing". He never listened to me before.

Nobody's last words are ever right. Dammit.

Alex and Jes are both right.

My condolences.

So sorry for your loss.

You're not weird. The people I know online are more important to me than most that I know IRL, and I have no idea what most of them look like.

Sorry to hear about your friend, Sebastian. I don't think it's the least bit crazy to feel that strongly about someone you only knew online. The net is just a medium, and the medium doesn't matter. People have developed relationships via email (including me and my wife) for years, over the phone for generations, and with letters before that. We no longer think that's weird, except perhaps that letter-writing now seems strange because it's so rare. How odd is it to develop a relationship within the more immersive media available to use today? Not at all. It would be weird - and sad - if it *didn't* happen quite often.

My condolences. My online friends are no less friends than the ones I know in person. Your reaction is wholly appropriate and certainly not crazy.

I'm sorry. It's an unwelcome reminder that life is fleeting.

I met my wife on the Internet, and although we eventually did meet in person (as our children can attest) our first interactions were no less real.

Sebastian -- sorry to hear about that.

I don't think your sadness is strange or surprising at all, for all the reasons people have already mentioned.

I’ve thought about this kind of thing in relation to Obsidian Wings itself. Even though it has gotten quieter, I find myself checking in often to see if anything is happening. I miss people who were formerly here a lot and now are not (TLTinABQ, bedtimeforbonzo, publius, and others; and need I mention hilzoy?). It was a treat to see Nell’s name pop up in the “Recent comments” list a few days ago.

Sometimes I find myself telling people out here in the “real” world about an interesting ObWi discussion in the same way I might tell them what happened at work this week. I’m single, I live in rural Maine, and I work at home. My daughter has been here lately, but any day now I’ll be living alone again. Most of my social contacts are one-on-one, my volunteer work can be done mostly via email, I don’t go to church, and I travel so much for work that it would be hard to join anything that required regular attendance. So ObWi plays a bigger role in my life than perhaps is healthy sometimes, but even so, it means that some of the people here do feel like friends -- of a sort. I wonder how we would ever know if a regular commenter died. If your (Seb’s) friend’s friend hadn’t played World of Warcraft too, how would you ever have known?

As to meeting people after having known them only via letters (or phone or online), I once had a desultory but longstanding correspondence with a man in England that I had “met” in a newsletter that came into being after a conference we had both attended (we hadn’t met at the conference). We had even talked on the phone a couple of times. I had a certain notion of who I thought this person was, and when I went to England I visited him. He didn’t do anything rude or wrong or threatening, he was just -- in person -- so difficult for me to connect with that after a couple of days of hanging out, all I could think of was getting away. On the other hand, the Boston-area ObWi folks are as much fun to hang out with in person as they are to discuss things with online. So I guess it's a case-by-case thing, and maybe there's no predicting.

Anyhow, thanks for this post, Sebastian.

I'm sorry about your friend, Sebastian. I don't think it's weird at all to feel that connection.

I know what you mean, Seb. As a gamer I am constantly astonished to consider how much of my friends group's shared experience is entirely fictional, but no less real for it. And as a gamer who has lost gaming friends (accidents and suicide) I think there is nothing strange about what you are feeling. My condolences to you and your group.

Is your group doing something in-game to commemorate your friend's (and your friend's character's) passing? I've always been surprised by how much these sorts of things mean within that shared context.

Maybe that isn't such a strange connection after all.

Nope. Sorry, Sebastian.

I'm really sorry, Sebastian. Don't worry about the last words, what's important is that you were a good friend to him.

I totally grok this.

I used to be in a high-end raiding guild in EQ2, and I completely understand where you're coming from. We had a guild member die, and it was very traumatic. Everyone knew she was in poor health, and those who knew her well knew she didn't expect to live more than a year or two longer, but it still shook us hard.

Someone similar happened in the Lego community I'm part of, although it happened before I was more than a lurker in it. There was a builder named Travis Kunce, and he was so fond of a particular element that he had it tattooed on his arm. Travis was well-liked in the community, and his sudden death in his 20's--he went to sleep and never woke up--was a huge shock. To this day a lot of builders refer to the 1x1 Brick w/5 studs as a Travis Brick.

Community and friendship are not intrinsically tied to physical proximity--and neither is the grief that occurs when a light in that community suddenly goes out forever.

...he was just -- in person -- so difficult for me to connect with that after a couple of days of hanging out, all I could think of was getting away. On the other hand, the Boston-area ObWi folks are as much fun to hang out with in person as they are to discuss things with online. So I guess it's a case-by-case thing, and maybe there's no predicting.

I've often wondered about this, having never met anyone that I had previously only known on-line. I think there's an element of chemistry when you're face to face with someone that doesn't apply to on-line interaction.

I've had some unrealized opportunities to meet people in person that I had only known from blogs and always had a certain apprehension of feeling awkward or not clicking. I can also imagine really liking someone in person despite strongly disagreeing with him/her regularly in, say, blog discussions about politics - disagreements that can, at times, illicit feelings similar to personal dislike.

So, yeah, maybe there is no predicting how that will play out. But please let me know if you plan on being in the Philadelphia area any time soon so we can meet up, any of my on-line friends. (I hope my oozing third eye isn't too off-putting in person.)

Condolences. Nothing crazy.

Just the other day, my partner asked me if I had heard anything lately from that Sebstian guy I used to talk about . . .

My last words to my mother-in-law were a joke about Catholics in heaven.

The rest of my in-laws were horrified when I told them.

I still won't take it back, because she laughed.

My condolences, Sebastion. I am a long time WoW player as well; some great connections there.

ObWings as well. I never post, since I would normally only bother when angry, and nothing good ever comes of that. But I have lurked here from the start, and feel like I know most of you well.

Thanks for sharing that anyway. Its a lovely post, and a great pic at the end.

I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. It is never easy to lose someone, especially so suddenly.

People who do not play WoW or other social games may find it hard to understand the very real and personal connections that we have to other people via the game. People we may never have met in "real" life but whom we still spend ample hours together in game sharing the concerns and triumphs our real life with. These people are our friends and simply because we met them in a game does not mean the friendship is any less real. Take care of yourself, Sebastian, and thank you for sharing.


This isn't strange at all. So very sorry for the loss.


Fortunate that your friend's RL friend was kind enough to share the news about Dusty with Dusty's virtual friends. We haven't yet formalized that part of the process, but we should. Soon.

Very nice post Sebastian, and my condolences.

I agree that there is a strangeness to our connections with folks we meet on the internet but never come to know in the flesh and blood, but it is really no different than the friendships forged during centuries of letter-writing.

Didn't C.S. Lewis meet his wife through the mail?

I wouldn't fret about last words, unless they happened to be truly regretful. Yours in this instance were funny; they were you. What more can anyone ask?

Besides, maybe last words aren't the important ones. What about first words exchanged? Not to mention all of the words in the middle.

In my case, only every third word counts.

Yeh, John, I thought of great friendships that only existed through correspondence, like the one documented in 84 Charing Cross Road.

Very sorry to hear of your loss, Sebastian. My only brother abruptly died of a pulmonary embolism three and a half years ago, at the age of forty-four. When my parents and I were cleaning out his apartment, I saw on his beside table Jared Diamond's Collapse; should I meet my brother in the next world, I will say, "That wasn't meant as an imperative!" Because that was exactly his style of black humor.

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I'm sorry that yo lost your friend, Sebastian.

I second what JanieM said upthread including the reference to Nell who I hope will read this. And I also miss OCSteve, DaveC, and a host of others. Time passes, things change but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

I vote for not strange at all.

Sorry to hear about your friend, Seb.

What is that AJ post?

Sorry for your loss, Sebastian. And to echo everyone else, there's nothing strange about your feelings. As for the last words, that's the sort of joke anybody could have told, with no notion of how things would turn out a day later.

John Thullen: In my case, only every third word counts.

A.J. worked it out for us.

Was it your intent to echo/invoke Wilfred Owen, "Strange Meeting"? Or was that sheer chance?

In either case, we - admittedly at great psychic and physical distance - share your grief.

Sorry, man.

My thoughts are with you Sebastian, you might note that we are not uncomfortable comforting you(as best we can). Online acquaintance shares all the levels of intimacy and vulnerability of in person acquaintance. The difference is the time it takes to permit that vulnerability. I find myself jealous of your ability to have that kind of relationship online, and sad for your loss.


My condolences for your loss, Sebastian.

I had the same experience recently when Leila Abu-Saba died. Only two days ago I almost teared up again as I walked through the kitchen and my wife had one of Leila's recipes lying on the counter.

I have the feeling that losses such as these may take longer to overcome than when we experience the harsh finality of those of flesh and blood.

I'm sorry about your friend, Sebastian.

And I'll join everybody else in saying there's nothing weird about grieving for a friend, no matter how you knew them.

Sebastian, my condolences.

Here's a song that seems appropriate.

Yes, not strange at all Sebastian. Lots of people I really like I know only online. Sorry to hear.

Seb, my sympathies for your loss - and no, it's not weird at all.

There are people I've known online-only, via lj and the blogs I hang around on, for years now, are very dear to me even though we've never met in RL, and whose deaths would devastate me.

I'm very sorry for your loss, Sebastian.

My sympathies for your loss, Sebastian.

It works the other way, too. Last summer, I had to put down both of my dogs, who had been my companions for thirteen years. It was a painful time, and one thing that helped me through it was an outpouring of support from my online friends.

(I once again have two dogs, and I hope they'll live with me as long as my last pair, but I still miss Ben and Murphy.)

Sorry to hear about you losing your friend.

Hello. I'm a "lurker" of sorts; not sure if I've ever posted here before but have read a bit. I'm sorry about your friend and indeed he was a friend, so a very real and appropriate reaction. I'm very isolated and have become fond of several people on Huff Post. I'm sure if a similar situation arose I would feel the same. My sympathy, and you are a good human.

this post made me cry

(i can't help it, its the end of the semester, my defenses are down)

Your friend has died, and that is sad, but at least his memory will live on and, hey, there's worse memorials than a character sheet on the Armory. :)

Did he drop any good loot?

Haven't been by lately, but immediately was drawn to Sebastian's post which spoke of life's fragility and randomness and mystery.

My condolences, Seb.

Your emotions came through loud and clear and resonated in real terms. Nothing crazy about it.


Sebastian's story reminded me how I always try and make it clear to my mother how much my wife and I love and appreciate her. She is 67 and hopefully will be with us for many years, but having had health problems from time to time, you never know. Life without her, such a constant, would be very weird.

We just found out our neighbor, Mr. Bill, who is in his 70s, has cancer. He has always been a rock, mowing his grass religiously once a week, always working on some project, always chipper. This news was jarring.


"Last summer, I had to put down both of my dogs, who had been my companions for thirteen years. It was a painful time, and one thing that helped me through it was an outpouring of support from my online friends.

"(I once again have two dogs, and I hope they'll live with me as long as my last pair, but I still miss Ben and Murphy.)"

I know how you feel, Jim. I had to put down two dogs, CoCo and Bowser, at different intervals in the spring and summer of 2008, and the pain of losing them still haunts me. There is a strange emptiness, a hole in my heart, that refuses to go away.

I was thinking about CoCo this weekend as I battled 23 inches of snow and how she would delight in sticking her nose in the white stuff, romp around the backyard, stop suddenly, stick her nose in the snow, romp around the backyard, and on and on . . .

Bowser, the less playful of the two but with a big, big heart, would look at me whenever I was sad or contemplative with his soulful eyes and ask, "What's wrong, Dad?" He seemed to think any problem could be solved with a succession of paw-giving.

Now we are down to Hamilton, a 14-year-old Beagle who was a real trooper braving the snow yesterday that buried half of his body and who, I was told by my son today during a phone call at work, managed to snatch a half a loaf of Italian bread from the kitchen table.

I had the opportunity a month ago to adopt a stunning 6-month-old black Lab from a customer who had just broken with her boyfriend of seven years and didn't think it was fair to Guinness to be relegated to an apartment. But my wife wants to stay a one-dog family and any chance of me trying to change her mind has been drowned by the ongoing struggles of trying to keep our home.

Laura texted me some pictures of Guinness and his first day with his new family, giving chase to a ball in an open field, lining up for a treat with his newfound brother. They were pictures of happiness and contentment, and I saw a little bit of CoCo and Bowser in his joy.

I'm glad Guiness found a home. I volunteer fo0r a dog rescue and adoptions are down and owner releases way, way up.

Nice to hear from you again, BtfB.

Our dog Jodie countersurfed an entire quiche. Nothing is safe from her!

I hope everyone has a satisfying and loving Christmas.

Oh laura=wonkie. One of those mysterious spontaneous computer actions changed my name.

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