The Sureality of Death: A Reflection

It’s a weird thing to discover that someone has died, by seeing information for their memorial service on Facebook.

Let me start over. There’s this guy, his name’s Stephen. I didn’t know him well, but we were in two, maybe three  writing classes together a few years ago (we were both working on our Masters (MA)).  Two stories…

The first class was a script writing class, and of the twelve or so enrolled, we were the only two graduate students. I remember his script, at the time titled Spin, was a riff on the political spin-doctors working on the campaign trails. This was in the spring of 2008, as things were heating up for the Presidential election. I probably still have some of the pages on a hard drive, if he emailed any copies for the weekly critique rotations. Surely, I have his feedback on my pages…

Which leads to the second story. The other class was a fiction writing class, the following semester I think. I had written a Cthulu-werewolf mash-up (my first serious-ish attempt at writing horror), and some of his feedback led towards a discussion of the Jack Nicholson movie Wolf. Jump forward a couple of years, I submitted that same story for Viable Paradise in 2012. The same movie came up in the critique conversation, including some background information (about a certain publisher’s involvement in the production). I thought of Stephen, and his original feedback, and thought he might get a kick out of that sliver of information. Life being what it is, though, I never got around to sending the message.

Which leads to the surealness. I fired up Facebook on my phone last night, and one of the posts on my feed announced the plans for his memorial service. The awkward flicker of regret, the kind of ghost that shows up when you find out someone you’ve known – no matter how briefly – is gone, has been sitting on my shoulder since. My condolences go out to his family and those that knew him much longer (and better) than I did. I would have liked the chance to work with him more.

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