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.