View Single Post
  #3 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 29-10-2003, 04:50 AM
Harry Demidavicius
Posts: n/a
Default Losing a friend in the internet age.. (Long Message Hound)

Thank you for the very moving Eulogy, Chef Juke.


On Mon, 27 Oct 2003 15:10:17 -0800, Chef Juke


The loss of our friend Hound had me thinking a lot this weekend,
especially about how we can connect with people that we have never met
in person and still feel their loss. A few years back, a gal on an
email list I am on was killed in a hit & run accident. As the
majority of the people on that email list lived in the SF Bay area,
there were a number whom I had never met in person, including Jenni,
the gall who was killed.

Below is a message I wrote at the time, which I think has some direct
correlation to what I thought and felt when I heard that Hound had
passed on.

The internet is a strange and wonderful thing, and I think that this
type of communication (one to many to one) like what goes on in AFB
and Alt.Coffee and many other newsgroups is something completely new
(well, maybe there is something similar amongst shortwave

We meet each other. We chat, talk, argue, agree, tease, help,
chastise and laugh together, while miles away from each other and
maybe never seeing each others face or hearing each others voice. We
develop friendships through this strange new medium that are a little
different from the ones we have in our more-present world, and can be
at a loss to explain them to our non-internet savvy friends. It
doesn't mean that we appreciate these friendships any less than those
of people we've communed with in the flesh, just that they are somehow

And it doesn't hurt any less when we lose an "Internet Friend".

Anyway, here's that letter I mentioned, along with the lyrics of a
song that I put on while I grilled some Lamb chops on my "pottery" as
Hound called it.

Rest easy, friend.

-Chef Juke

Tuesday, June 9th, 1998

Last night...

I was working in the garage on a shelf that I was building for the
room we're moving our home office into. I had the radio on to the
local community college/NPR station that was playing its weekly folk
music show.

As I was working on sanding and staining the shelf a song came on
called "Down To A River, a moving song about the loss of a loved one -
and I immediately thought of Jenni, then realized that the memorial
was happening right at that moment. I didn't catch the name of the
artist but I will find it and post the lyrics to the list shortly
because I think it is very appropriate.

Now one thing I feel I should mention is that I don't even know if I
ever met Jenni in person or not. As most people on this email list
can understand, the with the many people, places, faces and last but
not least, intoxicants that come from the fount that flows from the
our group of friends, sometimes it can be difficult to totally
connect a name/face/experience.

Also, living so far away (Eugene, OR) from the main stomping grounds
of this group (S.F. Bay Area), I don't see even the people that I DO
know on the list anywhere NEAR as much as I would like.

But, I *have* known her a little by her emails to the list (especially
her notes of thanks after each of the list related parties/events that
she'd been to), and even more so through a reflection of her as it
bounced of other list members.

It seems that the last few weeks have been full of images and feelings
loss in and around my consciousness. One of my co-workers' nephew was
killed in the Thurston High School shooting, 3 others had relatives
wounded. The local media was filled with far too many images of grief
that hit far too close to home. Then last week we received two
company-wide emails, each telling us of a different work colleague
from our California office that had passed away.

Then Jenni.

I'd like to think I've learned something about loss & remembrance in
my life. In 1985 my 17-year-old stepbrother Erik was killed in a
motorcycle accident, then 1 month later my stepfather Lew was killed
in a car accident. A lady who had been driving the opposite direction
in a Cadillac, looked down in her purse for something, crossed the
double line and hit him head on. He was driving a little Honda CRX -
she got a sprained wrist - he was killed instantly. My Mom was
waiting for him at home in their hot tub when the Sheriff rang the
bell - she thought it was Lew joking around.


As to remembrance and reincarnations...

Last year I had an experience that solidified my belief in, well, if
not reincarnation exactly, then perhaps a continuity of spirit:

Every summer for the last 9 years I have worked at a booth at the
Oregon Country Fair selling homemade ice cream. The booth just
adjacent to ours is The Blintz Booth. This booth, like many at the
OCF is run by a conglomeration of friends & families that have been
running their booth at the Fair for many years. They are a great
bunch of people and over the years we have laughed a lot together and
enjoyed each other's company. I have watched their children grow up,
seeing them only once a year, like a time-elapsed camera taking one
frame per year.

Anyway, I had noticed that they had a gathering in the small pathway
between our booths every year on the fair's opening night (after the
fair had closed to the general public). It had always seemed like a
private affair.

Well this last year I had been standing nearby when one of the
Blintzes (well, that's what we called the folks who worked in their
booth), asked me to come sit with her as they had their yearly
ceremony. As I sat there I listened and learned what their ceremony
was about.

The Blintzes were involved in the Country Fair it seemed, in a large
part due to one woman, Melise, whom most of them considered to be
pretty much the extended family's matriarch. She was the one who kept
them going when adversity hit, did the things that reminded them of
the joy of living and pretty much had instilled in them part of the
common spark that they all seemed to share. I had seen her pictures
on the wall of their booth where they had 20 some odd years of Country
Fair pictures hanging.

One year, just before the Country Fair, she died suddenly. The
Blintzes almost didn't come to the Fair that year they were so
heartbroken, but they somehow managed to do it anyway. That year
someone made a special handblown bottle with many beautiful
accoutrements and some special liquor (homemade?) and they all took a
sip, said a remembrance to Melise. Every year since then they made a
new bottle, and repeated the tradition. Before this night I had seen
the slew of bottles hanging from the ceiling of their booth but I
never knew the significance. Each bottle had the year it was from
either painted or engraved on it and most of them looked not unlike a
miniature version of some of the art cars we have seen out on the
playa. Little glass curlicues stuck on here & there, colored ribbons
strung through them, some years' bottle wilder than others.

Well I sat there and listened as each of the Blintzes, young & old,
took the bottle, told of a memory they had of Melise, took sip from
the bottle, then passed the bottle on. Those who were too young to
remember her related a way in that she had touched their lives.
Brothers, Sisters, Cousins, Daughters, Friends. Each took their turn.

Eventually the bottle came down to where I was sitting next to one of
my Blintz friends. Feeling like somewhat of an intruder of sorts, I
politely went to pass the bottle to her and she said no. She wanted
me to partake. She said that I was part of their extended family and
could say anything that I wanted to share whether it related to Melise
or not. The entire group (all 25 or so of them) nodded in agreement.
I, who am usually not at a loss for words, cannot adequately express
how deeply moved I was by this.

So I took the bottle. And I told, as best I could what sitting there
with them at this gathering meant to me. I was honored that they
invited me to sit & share with them. I told them how I had realized
just a few minutes before, that Melise had died just a few weeks
before I came to my first Country Fair. I had never met her in
person, but I knew her, or at least a part of her through the
reflection of her that shone off of the people that she had touched in
her life. I now knew, from listening to the folks who had spoken
before me, things about them that showed the reflection of Melise,
like the fact that one of those Blintz kids that I had watched grow up
- who's laugh that I loved so much - was Melise's same laugh... that
much of the Blintzes spirit that I loved was a direct expression of
Melise's spirit. And that a part of what I had experienced with them
had been a part of Melise showing through.

I told them that what it really came down to is that through them a
part of Melise had become a part of me through them and that I would,
and do cherish it.

We do carry parts of each other's spirit on with us. Whether friend,
family or stranger, the people who have an effect on our lives, no
matter how small, become a part of our consciousness. It's not
necessarily a mystical thing and you don't have to be a Shirley
Maclaine / mysticism fan to be able see it, you just have to look. I
know that my Daughter Sofia who met her Great Grandmother, "Nonny"
only once when she was very young, carries a part of Nonny's spirit
with her. It shows in her stubborn streak. :
I know that I carry part of my Great Grandma Harriett's spirit with me
- it was handed to me by my Father, who she raised when he was a boy
in the Georgia Backwoods. She died 15 years before I was born, but the
part of her that I carry with me will be here always -I will pass it
on to my daughters Sofia & Isabel and they will pass on part of it to
their friends & family.

So even if it is just the small effect of an enthusiastic email or two
that you read from someone far away, it makes a difference.

Anyway, y'all probably know all this stuff, and I'm just goin' on & on
to the point of being preachy...

But just so's ya know, I care about you all in that strangely
disjointed-but-still-connected way that we be what we are.....

-Chef Juke

ps. I found the lyrics to that song...

The song is called Down To a River by Connie Kaldor:

Down To a River

There are dinners, there's music
There is laughter there were tears
There are memories that go back
Over the years
There are the marks made in a life
Like only good friends do
Now I must choose to make a mark
For the things I loved in you

I'll go down to a river
And plant a tree
Something strong, wild and living
Those are my memories
And I'll go up to a mountain
And sing to the stars
Can you hear me
Where ever you are.

And there's phone calls and there's crying
And there's clutching to the chest
And there's singing songs and throwing dirt
And laying down to rest
And there's carving words on stone
And making church bells ring
But the river when it freezes over
Still thaws and runs each spring

So I will go down to a river
And plant a tree
Something strong, wild and living
Those are my memories
And I'll go up to a mountain
And sing to the stars
Can you hear me
Where ever you are.

Do you hear the ones who loved you
And who were glad they knew you well
Do the hearts you left that miss you
Ring like a bell

I will go down to a river
And plant a tree
Strong, wild and living
Those are my memories
And I'll go up to a mountain
And sing to the stars
Can you hear me
Where ever you are

Can you hear me
Can you hear me
Can you hear me
Where ever you are