I learned this weekend that a friend from high school has recently died. How I learned of this was unusual. Apparently if you do a google search of this individual's name and the word Utah, a blog post that I wrote in 2004 pops up. Someone searching for his obituary found my post and they left a series of comments on it.
So for a little bit of post background...Yeah, it doesn't show me in the most positive of lights. I'll be honest about that. I was upset at how he had treated me a few months before, had heard a comment about him on a local radio program, and I made fun of what I had heard of his life and called him a "super senior"....which was not a good thing to be called in the culture of my high school. In 2007 he found the blog post and he commented back calling me a "bitter party of one"....which was really hurtful to me at the time. There was another post done about the topic in 2007 in which we kinda came to an understanding. Since then I haven't heard from or of him. I just assumed that he was living life as everyone else does.
The anonymous commenter basically told me that I was a horrible person for having this post up. I've tried to dialogue with them and even compromised....but to little avail. According to them I should be ashamed of myself and that I should remove my entire blog (not the post but the whole blog) in order to spare the two innocent children that he has left behind.
First off, my compromise was to reduce his name to initials on my blog. Even if I deleted the posts it would still take a while for it to register with the search engine crawlers anyway. And as it is, the post keeps getting lower and lower down on the search list with each hour that goes by. I left up the posts and the comments because they are part of my historical record. I know that it is odd to consider a blog a historical record but it is. Yeah, there are alot of posts in there where I am petty and mean and really really angry. This blog shows me as a flawed person, it shows me as human....but it also shows my growth as a person. I would much rather live on in posterity as a human being, then appear to be some strange super human who appears to be perfect. This is what I would want for myself...and for anyone that I once called a dear friend.
According to this commenter, this makes me an incredibly selfish person who doesn't care about two innocent orphans. In trying to deal with the loss of a old friend, I am also trying to reconcile the grief of this person who commented on my blog. Grief makes us do strange things....like try to make a complete stranger feel guilty about two children that they have never met. I don't think that their anger is really directed at me, but as I happen to be there I am the one that they are lashing out against.
I might feel better about this if I knew the manner of his death. Old high school friends are talking about the fact that he died, and even about how his wife died two years ago from cancer, but no one is talking about how HE died. I think that in a culture (such as the one unique to Utah) that lends itself to gossip and being in everyone's business, that the lack of gossip is very telling. Silence is much much worse than gossip here. The language people have used in reacting to this has been telling....and definitely the words used by the anonymous blog commenter have been telling, especially the use of the word selfish and the concern about the two children left behind.
So what does this all really mean? It means that someone who I used to care very deeply about has passed. I don't want to enshrine his memory, to make him to be some uber-perfect being... I think that the greatness of a man can be weighed by his successes and failures in life, by his ability to love and be loved, to have loss in their lives, to be humble, to be angry, by their personality quirks.... He was a husband, a father, a teacher....he loved and laughed with a gaffaw. He was brilliant on the stage and behind the scenes. He was a man who deserved to be talked about alive and in death. I will remember him as the boy that I wore a matching neck brace with after being involved in a car accident on the night of the Dogpatch school dance. I will remember him as the boy that I used to have drama club hijinks with. I will remember him as the man who wouldn't take no for an answer and did what he loved for a living....not many people find the courage to do that. I will even remember the bad things that he did, the things that annoyed me, or broke my teenage heart because I know that he did them not to hurt anyone (or even with the knowledge that it hurt someone) but that he was honoring who he was. Something that will always ensure my respect of him. But most of all.....
I will remember him: his true, authentic, wonderfully human self.