Sunday 4 April 2010

"The one with the most tools when he dies wins."

I have been trying to write a blog post about loss.
I have backspaced so many false starts I have lost count.
I guess it is not yet time for those thoughts to wind up here, in that sense - I do not seem ready for writing them. Or maybe it will always be this difficult to put words to it. Nonetheless, I will make an attempt today, before it is too late and I postpone it forever.

This is likely to be disjointed and weird, and I am not going to read through it before I post it, for fear I will delete it all again.

When I was.. 16 or 17, I discovered IRC. Since then it has been a part of my life, providing social input, new friendships, contact with old friends, late night discussions and the teaching of practical stuff - like making chainmail.

For as long as there has been IRC in my life, there has also been B.

In shorter periods, one or both of us has been gone, but we have always returned and always continued talking.
Along with Mike he taught me about crafting chainmail. We have come up with wild schemes, and suggestions of how to fix things. He helped me find the right parts to buy when I needed to replace my computer (the computer still runs - good job). We talked about books, and roleplaying games, and weapons. About the apocalypse and crazy survivalist schemes. I remember one plot we made about squatting (none of us having any resources to actually buy anything) a nice old abandoned factory in the forest - we actually even found the place we wanted, and made plans for its defense. We were both somewhat withdrawn, a bit unhappy in the modern society, where I believe (we never spoke about it directly) we both felt that we did not fit in. We both tried to end our existance several times. We never spoke about that either.

Not too long ago we spoke about tools. My tools are too many to fit in the tool box, so I have moved alot of them over in the clothes chest I have. "You can never have too many tools. You must hoard tools like treasure. The one with the most tools when he dies wins!" he told me. I smiled and felt less like a fool with my tool treasure hoard.

We never met IRL.

Sunday evening, a week ago, I was still in Finland, the evening before heading back to Stockholm. I borrowed Mika (Beledra's SO)'s computer to check in my flight, and also logged onto IRC.

I learnt that B was gone, that he had ended his own life the friday before.

It was not a surprise, but it was still a shock. I froze. Tried to come up with a suitable response. Thanked for the information. Almost thanked for it coming through IRC, so I would not have to control my facial expression or give a suitable response vocally. Thought that it was suitable in a way, that his end should be communicated to me through the same media I knew him. Blinked. Tried to take it in. Pain. Loss. "I am doing rather well", his friend that informed me said. A barb of guilt through me, it was his friend, I should have asked how he was, selfish selfish me. I corrected my responses accordingly. I didn't even know B IRL, I don't have the right to feel this bad, swallow it you silly cow. Behave courteously and caring towards those alive who knew him, who has the right to sorrow. There you go, good girl!

That night I kept waking with a gasp. Gonegonegonegonegone! roaring through my brain. On the verge of panic.

Monday. Trip to the airport, waiting in the airport, too many hours to think. Sitting on the plane. Sitting on the bus back to Stockholm city. I wrote down some of my thoughts, and reactions. The guilt of my sorrow, that it felt like I have no right to this feeling. The guilt of not thinking of others first but only my own reactions. I did not write down the cold feeling in my gut, that it could have been me, oh, it could have been me. To sleep.

On the airport coach from Arlanda, sitting and watching the grey, snowless landscape with black tree limbs stretching towards the sky, I found some sort of peace with it. It was his choice. And he sleeps now, he is at peace. Whatever happens, he is no longer suffering. Maybe we could have done more, could have been there for him, could have forced him, but it is not sure it would not just have brought more suffering. I respect his choice and determination. I envy him his peace.

Sleep well, my friend.

To make peace with his decision and departure is not the end of the pain, of course. It is a first step. This week has been a rough series of admitting at work I wasn't feeling well at all and why, of reaching out to his friends (through IRC of course) and admitting my feelings, of informing other people who knew him online, and tears, ever tears. Listening to music I associate with him (oh, how much music he pushed on me through the years!). Sitting with my arms around my knees, huddled, feeling alone with the loss.

There is a way yet to go. Eventually it will be easier. I know that, even though I do not feel it at the moment.

I wish I knew how to honour him. I wish I was allowed to take a formal farewell, like IRL-friends are allowed to, I don't know, go to a funeral or something. Get an end to it, peace of mind. How conflicted it becomes with the modern way of connecting. Internet people are real people too, but to what degree are we allowed to behave towards them as we would to people we know as more than text on a screen? I have seen this discussion brought up earlier in the Swedish blogosphere but I had not expected to have to take a stand myself. Yet I know I am too timid to reach out more than this, and that this is likely to all there is to show for it for me.

It hurts to touch my tools, an overlay of his face covers the work in my hands. I promised yesterday I will not stop creating, not stop my crazy ideas, and if I get the chance, I shall fix an office chair with a boot. For him. Yesterday I made myself sit with the rings and pliers for several hours, creating. It was difficult, but there was a certain peace to it after a while. Four in one, falling nicely through my hands. He would have approved, I am sure.

Sleep well, my friend.

 The Cyborg Name Generator knew who he was. That is how I will try to remember.