as arts editor, there's certain people who i'll remember as the people who helped define the job for me -- regular writers, amazingly good (but sporradic) writers, people who never wrote for me but would always just email me replies to the things i sent, that sort of thing.
there was one person who wrote to me fairly regularly. but usually not just to me. he liked writing, i guess, and was always writing some sort of rant or commentary on things that were taking place, and when i sent out my "stuff going on" emails at odd hours of the day/weekend, it wouldn't be too uncommon for him to write back somewhat conversationally, just to say hi because he was online and figured that i'd still be sitting at the computer then. sometimes he'd take up whatever i was offering for free tickets, sometimes he just sent articles unsolicited -- though those were sent to a general "friends" email list, though they were for publication, if i wanted. i used some of his articles -- some were well-written, some not so much -- and kept a bit of a contact with him, but never too much. at first i found it a little odd that he wrote to me like we were pals, but i got used to it, and suddenly he was just one of my arts writers that i actually knew a little bit more about, and when i got an email with his name on it, i'd be more likely to open that one first. because hey, i recognised it. he wrote to me when he was going to paris for a week, told me what happened, sent me some pictures afterwards (none of him, just of images that he'd captured on film).
towards the beginning of the year, he was supposed to see a show and review it for me -- tickets were all arranged and everything. production day came and went and i hadn't heard from him, hadn't been able to contact him. later on i heard that he hadn't been at the show, because the publicist sent me a message wondering what happened. when he did finally get back to me by email, he apologised, said that he hadn't been able to make it, figured that it would be alright, didn't say anything about making up the missed show/article. and it put a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, and afterwards i didn't jump at his emails as often.
he sent a few more mass emails out over the last few months, but not as many. today when i was doing a last check of the arts email before giving it up completely, i noticed an email with his name in the header. it was from a friend of his, with an announcement that he'd killed himself a couple weeks ago, and that the memorial service would be happening this weekend.
and it's strange. i never really knew him. i never spoke to him over the phone, and i have no clue what he looked like. and yet i feel sad. sad that i was sent a message as a "friend" of him, because i didn't know him, and maybe the email was just sent to everyone in his contact list, but even so, maybe much of his contact list is made up of people like me -- outlets for publishing his work, not necessarily people he knew. maybe not. probably not. but you still sort of wonder. sad because we did send email conversations back and forth every now and then, and there was a connection there of some sort nonetheless. sad because i haven't had the experience of someone i actually know personally dying. and for the first time, it's not just a headline or a plot twist in a film, it's a Real Life event, and it's someone that i won't ever get emails from anymore. sad because if it had been an email from him today, i wouldn't have cared as much, because it's just another mass mailing from him. sad because i didn't care how he was doing, really, until i found out he was dead.
i don't know that i'll go to the memorial. i actually don't think i can. but a part of me wants to, just to get an inkling of who he actually was.