to a mix of 127 JT songs…
I did not know Jenn See. She died at such a young age from an apparent heart aneurysm just a day or so after returning from Bonnaroo.
I learned of her death rather serendipitously following the links of one commenter, Carl V., who stopped by Janet’s site and left a comment the same day I made a visit.
The entire experience for me has been much like driving in reverse. Carl leaves a comment, I am intrigued that there really are other guy-bloggers out there. I go to his web site, scroll down through the posts, and find a eulogy written to a person I never knew.
But here’s the rub. He didn’t know her either. At least, not in the traditional sense. Carl V. knew her only in the online world, and his post on such virtual friendships sent me revisiting my own thoughts about online relationships and their unprecedented significance in our lives.
In his reaction to Jenn See’s death, Carl V. wrote:
I cannot begin to express my sadness. It is hard to describe what a relationship is when you do not meet someone in person but converse solely through the internet. Are they a friend, an acquaintance, what? There is an absence of completeness to a relationship in which you do not see the person face to face and yet there is a depth of relationship that is achieved when you share of yourself with others and have them do the same with you. . . .I don’t know what Jenn See was doing during her last hours on earth but it hurts to think of a book laying by the bedside table never to be finished. Poems not yet completed. Pictures on her camera that were meant to be posted. Treasure life people. And treasure your relationships with others in person and online. You never know how much you can touch people with what you say and do. That has come home so strongly today. Love those around you and live, really live, because no matter the years you have on this earth life is short..
Carl’s words hit home. For years I have struggled with this question of the depth of online relationships. Like he writes: …a friend, an acquaintance, what?
After reading his words, I felt as if I had known Jenn See myself, and so I had to read some of her own words and see her photography. I first went to to mysfit’s post that announced her passing. After reading the many comments left by friends, I went to Jenn See’s two main blogs, followingmyfish (which she kept with mysfit and oldben) and then to touristofeverything and scrolled down to the days just before and after she died. This was a first for me: A death in the online world, and oldben, mysfit, and Carl V., among countless others, shared their grief and celebrated her life with all of us, as if we were just in the next room, nursing a Jack and Coke to somehow stem the flow of the shock, the inevitable pain that was waiting to hit us all.
Like me, I am sure that it hit such outsiders in different, but personal, ways. One common feeling that has coursed through all of us, though, is this power of love that these people felt for her — not just those who knew her best in person or who took that last great trip to Bonnaroo with her, but to those who knew Jenn See through the power of her words, her photography, even her selflessness in sending CDs filled with music to make others feel better.
Jenn See’s death and the celebration of her life by the myriad people in this world who never held her hand or kissed her cheek confirms for me that we must all recognize the transcending power of love. Establishing friendships and relationships on line is not a superficial and recreational activity that can be compared beat for beat with the more traditional aspects of love we are used to. For thousands of years, it was all we knew, though, right? With the exception of the rare correspondence through letters between two once-strangers, most people know of each other intimately through physical meetings only — at least in the beginning stages of that friendship or romance. It was from that foundation that we kept our emotions grounded and called to them when our loved ones could not be around us. The adage that distance makes the heart grow fonder has always been based on the premise that, in the beginning, there was a physical closeness to establish that relationship.
This is no longer the case.
Love has evolved. It has freed itself from such a physical foundation that once needed to be built, and we are faced with understanding, embracing, and appreciating such love and opening ourselves fully to all it may mean to you, to me, to the world.
We keep looking for ways to bring a greater sense of peace and love throughout this world. Maybe the greatest power of them all — love — has risen to the occasion once again and is leading the way to better times.
I did not know Jenn See, and I do not know Carl V., oldben, or mysfit. But I do know this:
We have much to be thankful for in their shared experience of love for a beautiful and gifted young woman who passed from this Earth much too early.
And in her passing, may we all understand a little more that love knows no barriers, and to open ourselves up to it in ways that were once unimaginable is the greatest gift we can give to the generations of lovers and peace-seekers yet to be born.