A friend passed away this week. A friend that was an avid commentator on this blog and a presence that filled any room he entered. Yes, he was that guy. The guy that took time out of his busy day as a husband, father, and man of a million talents to make sure that you know, when you're out at sea and feeling lost, that someone is there and listening.
Though we met back in the late 90s on our student Semester at Sea voyage, I have had the pleasure of staying in touch with he and his lovely wife, who was also a college friend on the S.S. Universe Explorer. Since hearing of this tragic news, I have been struggling with what to say and where to say it. So many of our interactions over the past few years have been via facebook, and as I've now witnessed this virtual collage of memoriams and shout outs, sadly on more than one occasion, I've been faced with a moral dilemma. Is this what we do now?
Part of me feels like it is a community space, a place where friends from all around the world can share and remember, and another part of me feels like it is cheap and impersonal, and perhaps the ultimate relegation of a life to less than 140 characters. Then there is the question of presence. Some seem to write as if he is reading. Others immediately dispel him to the past, which is grammatically correct but somehow feels hollow and raw, like a giant bug bite that appeared out of nowhere and has suddenly taken over your leg.
My mind is heavy and my heart still aches as I continue to wake up every morning having dreamt about him and/or the loss of a loved one, but in thinking about the incredible legacy this lovely man is leaving behind, I am reminded of Ubuntu and how he put it into action. Having sailed with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 2007, my friend was so inspired by his wisdom, that he took it upon himself to spread the word and pay it forward. Not only did he create and hand out T-shirts, he literally lived by it: