A close friend of my sister and brother-in-law's died last weekend. His son and my nephew are best friends.
He and I weren't incredibly close, exactly. We'd had a lot of fun conversations at dinner parties and kids birthday parties and things like that. He was a scientist at Lawrence Livermore Labs. Very smart, very funny guy. He and I had recently put our heads together to work in our free time towards making a fantasy-themed kid's game.
We hadn't gotten very far with it.
He apparently had a genetic heart condition, and caught a strain of H1N1 flu which caused an infection in his heart.
He had a wife and two sons.
I don't really know what to think. He was so young. I don't even think he'd hit 40 yet. His oldest son is only 12.
I don't really know why I made this thread. I guess I was in a sharing mood.
So, I went to the memorial service yesterday.
It was good. Better than most I've been to. Very good atmosphere, lots of love. I think it helped that there were so many kids, who can't help but be kids even when all the adults around them are crying and moping.
I promised his oldest son that I'll come by after work one day soon and show him how to maintain the minecraft server his dad set up for them.
His name was Andy, by the way. I noticed I hadn't mentioned that anywhere.
I realized why his death has made me so sad personally, too, despite not knowing him all that well.
It's, well, because I didn't know him that well yet. I was just getting to know him, really. I knew his wife and sons pretty well, and I'd heard so many stories about him, and then the few times we interacted he was just such an awesome guy.
I knew he had contributed hugely to the National Ignition Facility at LLNL, helping to build the most powerful laser on earth. I didn't know that he was a teacher in Iowa until a decade ago, when he decided to switch careers, got a doctorate in Physics, and moved out here to work on fusion research at NIF.
Andy was incredibly friendly, and funny, just a very laid back and easygoing guy. He was a great dad, willing to do all kinds of crazy fun stuff not just for his kids, but for his kids' friends.
A few years ago I put together a LARP-themed birthday for my nephew, and I recruited villains from my friends and a couple of amenable dads, but Andy went above and beyond, volunteering to be the main villain of the entire event, the Orc King.
It was the first time I met him, actually. He went all-out, with a very elaborate costume and an excellent orc mask. Not only that, by accepting that role he essentially consigned himself to exile for the majority of the party, hiding in the wings so as not to spoil the epic reveal. It was an amazing amount of dedication from someone who was essentially supposed to be a guest at the party.
He just seemed so willing to throw himself into whatever was going on, and do it with a smile.
I wish I'd had a chance to know him better.
At times like this, I can sort of understand why so many people have a hard time with atheism. The memorial service wasn't any specific denomination, but it was nominally religious or at least spiritual, and I found myself sort of wistful at the fact that the religious elements of the service didn't speak to me at all.
I don't think he's out there somewhere. I don't think he's on the next stage of his journey.
I think he's dead, and gone, and that's why I'm so ****ing sad about it.
Posts: 3580 | Registered: Aug 2005
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I don't have anything more specific to say, but one of the reasons I'm working on humanist culture is because it really sucks that we don't have a lot of good grieving material. And unfortunately, the grieving material we need must be customed tailored for the people involved (essentially, we need Speakers for the Dead).
I don't know you well enough to say anything that'll really help. But your story is moving. He sounds like an awesome person that I'd have liked to have known.
He's gone forever, for no special reason. But you're not alone, you'll work through it eventually. And though the world isn't fair, it does have good and beautiful things in it, which eventually you'll be able to appreciate again.
Posts: 4103 | Registered: Aug 2008
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