Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A friend never met but lost

Yesterday I checked Facebook and saw two people posted that an online friend of theirs had died. The two people I saw aren’t connected to each other, as far as I know (except through me), and their friends were different people. It was just an odd coincidence.

Today, fate added a twist.

I heard from a podcasting friend that a mutual online friend, who we in the Pride 48 podcasting community knew as Lord Byron of Illinois, died yesterday. I knew he was fighting cancer, but didn’t realise it was that serious. In this particular case, while I trust my podcaster friend, another podcaster friend Tweeted a link to Lord Byron’s obituary, so I was able to “trust, but verify.” It’s something I always need to do, but especially for news I don’t want to believe.

Lord Byron was a friend as well as a supporter of my podcast (in particular). He was always ready with a joke or kind word when most needed. He was a guest a couple times on the live podcasts I used to do, and someone I often traded emails and Tweets with. Because of all that, he was one of my “online” friends I most wanted to meet in person when we go to the US next time, especially because I know for sure we’ll be going to Illinois. It makes me sad that I’ll never get that chance.

Lord Byron is the first of my online friends to die; there have been online people I’ve known of, or been connected to through the flimsiest of tangents, but he was the first actual friend. But one of my most strongly held beliefs, reinforced through my friendship with Lord Byron, is that one doesn’t have to meet someone in real life to be a real friend, that the connections we make in the online world can be every bit as real and as important as those we make in real life—sometimes, even more so.

So, I’m sad at the loss of my friend, and that I’ll never get to meet him in person. But I know he left behind many people who mourn his death. I think that’s a sign of a life well-lived.

Because he never used his real name in his public online dealings, nor talked specifically about where he lived, out of respect for my friend I haven’t used his real name in this post and I won’t link to his obituary (the photo was what he often used for his Twitter and comment icon). Instead I’ll just say, as I would have in life, farewell, Your Lordship! And, thank you.


RambleRedhead said...

What a great tribute to the power of the Internet and the ability that we all have to make true friends this way! Lord Byron was a such an amazing person and he will truly be missed.

Unknown said...

Lord Byron was a great friend to all of us GLBT podcasters. The podosphere feels more lonely today. Thank you very much, Your Lordship!

Roger Owen Green said...

Very sad. I do remember hearing him on various podcasts occasionally. Sorry for your loss.