Friday, August 20, 2010

The Fragility of Insular Bubbles

I had been planning to post a few photos yesterday. Some pics I had promised from our recent excursion to the French island of Saint Pierre off our coast. I was stunned into silence, though, when I turned on my computer to find post after post about the untimely death of an online writer I was familiar with.

Jamie Eyberg and his wife Ann died last weekend in a tragic accident in the well on their rural Iowa farm. I won't bother posting links to the story as those of you familiar with Jamie have probably already linked to it through Aaron Polson's blog.

I don't think that Jamie ever followed my blog, or at least not that I am aware of. I followed his because he was part of the first circle of bloggers/writers I became involved with online; writers superior to myself that I knew I could learn something from. Eventually it was evident to me that I learned less about writing from his blog (link to some of his stories here) and more about what a great husband and father he was to his wife and children.

I have come to view my online friendships a bit like a Venn diagram, as shown on the left. I know what this is because of supervising my son while doing his grade 8 math homework this past year. These online communities are individual circles with myself (or yourself) nestled comfortably in the center.

I wonder, now, if it's more as Aaron described in his post about the death of Jamie. He referred to the online community as 'strange, insular bubbles'. This works a lot better for me. Since hearing about the death of Jamie and his wife yesterday morning I have been left in a bit of a fog (both figuratively and literally...this is St. John's after all).

How can I be bothered by the death of somebody I barely know? After thinking about it for a while, I've concluded that indeed their deaths were tragic, but I feel sadness more for their children, Kennedy and Brendan...those left behind. Their deaths remind me, in a way, of my sister's untimely death back in 1984 and how it affected the family and friends she left behind. Whether our relationships are in person or online doesn't change the nature of those insular bubbles. They are fragile and we must enjoy them for as long as possible.

My thoughts and sympathies go out to the Eyberg family.

14 comments:

Cathy Olliffe said...

Stunning news, Alan. I've read Jamie's work. I can't believe the accident. Wow. Like you, my sympathy goes to their family.

Laurita said...

I didn't know Jamie, but I read the news yesterday on several blogs. It is so sad and tragic, especially for his children. A lot of people will be thinking of them.

David Barber said...

The death of a good person, whether you know them or not, is always sad. I didn't know but my sympathies go out to their children and relatives.

Like you say, Alan, it's a great community the blogosphere and I am glad to be part of it.

Nice post, mate.

Rebecca Nazar said...

I value my blog-relationships very much, although they are obviously different than my face-to-face ones. Jamie and I shared a few publishing credits and he was always left thoughtful comments--like you : )--on my blog. It's strange how blog-folks I barely know, know more about my aspirations and soul-searching as a writer than some of my face-to-face ones--an odd thing.

All friendships, regardless of origin or fostering, are precious.

Aaron Polson said...

"They are fragile and we must enjoy them for as long as possible."

I couldn't have said it better, Alan.

Laura Eno said...

Like you, I was left in a fog yesterday when I read the news. Although I didn't know him well, we shared publishing credits and I learned much about Jamie's love for his family as a FaceBook friend.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

katey said...

The word "tragedy" gets thrown around a lot. This is the real thing.

I like the Venn Diagram answer to the online friendship question. Well said, sir.

John Wiswell said...

One of my favorite features of bubbles is how when they lay against each other they merge. Very Venn-like, and net-like.

K.C. Shaw said...

I've been thinking about Jamie and his family all day too. I didn't realize how important my online friends were to me until I lost one.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Thanks, all, for your thoughts and kind words.

ganymeder said...

That's so sad. My sympathy goes out to their family and friends.

Mari said...

Interesting thinking on how the loss of a person somehow distant to us can impact our lives. This is a nice tribute to him, I think. :)

Bukowski's Basement said...

So very very sad. I did not know him or his work but my heart goes out to his family...

Jeremy Kelly said...

K.C.'s comments sum up my thoughts. He will be missed, and in a strange way, he has brought us all closer together.