Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mourning the friends we never meet

A good friend of mine died yesterday. Although I never met him, Leroy Sievers became a part of my life the way any friend does. I care about him. I check in to see how he's doing. And when I read this morning that he had died, I cried. 

Leroy Sievers was a journalist. He'd worked all over the world, covering some truly horrific events including the aftermath of the Rwanda genocide. In 2006 he started blogging about his experiences as a cancer patient and had a weekly commentary on NPR, all under the title of My Cancer. His blog grew into a lively and intimate community. His writing was honest, his voice was clear, and he talked about things we rarely discuss in the public sphere. How uncomfortable it is to be ill. Death. How to live while dying. And the impact this has on our loved ones. He did all of this without drama, without sentiment. 

Leroy helped me learn how to have these honest conversations. He helped me remember to shut up and listen. He helped me remember to be grateful for my health and for my loved ones. The sorrow I feel this morning is legitimate, my affection genuine, though we never met. I know I'm not alone in feeling this way, the community built around his blog is a wonder. Humans are graced with an astonishing capacity to build connection where we need it, even if that connection is over something as fleeting as a computer screen.

I never met him, but I will miss him. Thank you, Leroy, for your honesty, for your willingness to be so open with us, for your life.

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer
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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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