Earlier today, a former co-worker pinged me on FaceBook asking me "what happened to 'X'?" In this case, "X" was a mutual friend and former co-worker of ours. Several of us had worked as consultants for the same company for a number of years. However, as happens over time and when no longer joined by a common thread, we'd all ended up going our separate ways. We've each stayed in casual touch - using instant messaging tools, social media, email and the occasional phone call to stay at least somewhat connected. But still, we drifted and time hurtled past in a way you don't really recognize until something calls your attention to it.
This time, what called attention to it was death. Our friend had, apparently passed away this weekend. My attention to FaceBook being fairly infrequent any more, I'd not yet seen all the "goodbye" messages posted to his wall. It was only the notification being lit up from my other friend's direct wall-post that alerted me. When I clicked on the notification, I found the question, "what happened to Warren?" waiting for me.
My initial response was, "huh? What do you mean 'what happened'?" Just the prior weekend, I'd received an "are you there" kind of message via instant messenger from Warren. It had arrived to my computer while I was out doing weekend things with my wife. By the time I noticed the message, it was four hours stale and he was no longer showing as online. I figured, "I'll chat at him the next time I see him online". So, my initial response was going to be "what do you mean".
Given the nature of the message, I'd figured it was worth investigating what might be behind it. So, I clicked on our friend's wall to see if I could glean anything I didn't already know. That's when I saw all the "good-bye" messages. That's when I realized that I won't be chatting to him, again.
It's been four years since I've seen him. The last time I'd seen him was at a work function. Last I'd actually spoken with him was by phone and it had been a few times late last year. At the time, he'd been going through a rough patch - being in treatment for cancer. He'd sounded like the treatments were kicking his as. Each time we'd talked, he'd sounded worse than the last time. The final time we'd talked on the phone, he'd indicated that they were finally done with the treatments. I'd made - what turned out to be - the foolish interpretation/assumption that it meant he was in remission and the treatments were over. The cancer he'd indicated he'd had was one that had a decently-high survival-rate.
And now, he's gone.
Haven't written any good-byes on his wall yet. He won't be the one to read them and I don't really know his friends to be able to say anything that makes a statement seem a sensible thing to do. Don't know that I will write on his wall. I have emailed the other folks I knew who knew him trying to see if anyone knew more than what I could glean from what was already posted on his wall.
Recently, I've been looking at where I am in my own life. Even prior to today's revelation, I was in one of those "decay" states of mind. I'm 43 and my wife will soon be 40. We have no children. My father has already passed and it seems like I have less and less contact with the various folks I've been friends with over the years. It feels like I peaked somewhere along the lines. Ironically, probably during the period in which I worked with Warren.
Full-circle kind of moment, I guess.