I’ve spent the past couple of weeks moving and haven’t checked my email in a few days. Finally, I’m more or less moved in and I sat down to write a post. I paused to check my email and suddenly what I was writing seemed too frivolous to continue.
For about five years I had an email correspondence with a man in Germany. We probably averaged about two or three emails a week, but it was not unusual for us to write every day for a week or a month at a time. Eventually, I came to think of him as one of my closest friends. We flirted more than a little, but we never met. It’s hard to describe how I felt about him. I had affection for him that went beyond being purely platonic, but the fact that we never met prevented it from turning into a full-fledged love affair, but flirtation always lurked in the background. When I saw the movie Catfish, I felt a little disappointed because I thought that they missed the opportunity to explore a more profound question. What does it mean to truly know someone? Why do we like the people we like?
Then last September, he stopped writing. At first, I wondered, but there had been times in the past when he told me that work got busy. He also confessed to emotional problems, specifically depression. However, the longest he had ever gone without writing was two weeks. As we moved into October, I began to wonder. I wrote multiple times and resisted the urge to write many times more. I cried into my pillow. Walking down the street one evening I saw a street sign with the same name as the town in Germany were he lived. I had to momentarily brace myself against a building. I reviewed in my mind every word of the last email he sent and my response trying to find some offense that I could have made.
My sister insisted that something had happened to him because, she said, he would not abandon me so easily.
Several days ago, his brother sent me an email which I only just read this evening. I did not know his brother, but I recognized the surname and immediately knew why he had written. My friend died last September.
It’s hard to describe what a loss I’m feeling right now.