11/19/12

When you find out that someone from your past died


What are you supposed to do and how are you supposed to act when you find out that someone you knew and really liked many years ago has died?

I FEEL sad, but I don’t know what to do. Scott Gallaway was a college friend; we were in the same BFA Creative Writing program in the mid 1990s; and I just found out via facebook that he died a few days ago of cancer. He was only 39.

I've not seen him in recent years (other than on his facebook page), but I had a small bit of contact with him online. Less than two years ago, in July 2011, I found out about his cancer, and mailed him some poetry chapbooks and we shared just a few emails - but that's it. He crossed my mind numerous times, including these last few years, hoping he was feeling/getting better.

A number of people were posting photos on his page; most of them from many years ago; and I thought about maybe adding one there; but it sort of bothers me a bit how when someone dies, they suddenly appear to be receiving more attention than they did when they were alive.  (If you’re going to be really terribly hurt and sad and sorry when someone dies, then maybe you should try to pay more attention to them now while you still can.)

I know that doesn’t mean people were not paying any attention to him when he was still alive; I know the sudden rush of correspondence and photos are related to remembering and honoring – and that often in life, people's thoughts, feelings, attentiveness, and attentions are kept inside their heads - and they tend to open some of that up and share it more in the midst of tough times, such as when someone dies but is still so deeply remembered and missed.

It's terribly sad when someone my age dies. 

(A contemporary poet, whose creative work I have not read in recent years either.)

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The past. He's in the front middle.