The Death of Jenn See Illuminates the Evolution of Love

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.

13 comments on “The Death of Jenn See Illuminates the Evolution of Love

  1. Carl V. says:

    Very nice thoughts and indeed a nice tribute to both Jenn See and to online relationships. I have fantastic, wonderful friends in my life. Two in particular heavily share my love of comics, of art, of films….but there are aspects of me and things that I enjoy that only online friends share with me. Anime for instance. I know no one in person who I share this interest with. And several authors that I love are people that I shared with Jenn See and Mysfit only. Online friends are just that way. And as you encourage each other to be creative and reach your potential you develop a connection that comes from communicating, regardless of the medium of that communication. I know how much Jenn See touched my life…it hit home quite strongly as I wept that Friday night, for her, for Oldben especially, and for her family. It is a loss that is palpable and one that I still feel. These feelings are in no way trumped up or done for attention. They are very real and at times unwelcome…who wants to feel grief after all, it sucks! But I’m glad I do. Jenn See was worth grieving over as will other friends both online and in ‘reality’ who will eventually pass. This was a very hard ‘first’ for me and many others and I appreciate your sharing in that despite not ‘knowing’ Jenn See.

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  2. rusvw says:

    Thanks, Carl. This has been a lifelong project of mine to define love and relationships, and I genuinely believe that something extraordinary is happening because of blogs, groups, and chat rooms that has never happened before….

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  3. Carl V. says:

    Indeed, I’m sure there are both positive and negative effects to building relationships with people over the internet and the whole thing is quite fascinating.

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  4. Caryn says:

    What a beautiful–and true–post. I didn’t know her either, but I read about her passing on a friend’s blog, and visited hers because of it. When I did so, I was struck by the posts on there, both by her and by those who loved her.

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  5. cynthia walker says:

    Thank you for your beautiful comments about my daughter. I continue to check for her everyday. Seeing these comments keeps her spirit alive. I keep waiting for her to show up and maybe this is the only way she is able to communicate with us. Look how she has still talking, thinking and just creating. I miss her sooooo much.

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  6. cynthia walker says:

    P.S. Stay in touch. We are creating a scholarship fund in her memory which will be devoted to the arts. Creative writing, poetry, music, photograpy, all of her favorite things. Sorry about the typo in the above comment. Tears in my eyes.

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  7. oldben says:

    i really can’t thank all of you in the blogiverse enough. it’s been really tough for me and mysfit and for all of jenn’s friends and family these past few weeks. i’m pretty much out of my head all the time. i can function, but the cracks are there and i fall apart fairly often. the toughest part is that there’s nothing i can do. i can’t go and get her and bring her home, and i hate not having any options.
    i have no choice but to listen to the news everday. it’s on all day at work. there was an item on the lebanon-israel situation talking about how blogging is the best forum for the public to circumvent the government and connect on a real person to person level to effect a change. physical proximity is not a concern. this is the direction that the internet has been moving in since the mid-90’s, so far as i can recall. jenn really got involved with the fish and she was doing great. she looked forward to the comments and the responses that she got and there were never enough of either. so thank you all for that. for hearing and recognizing jenn’s voice. there was nothing she hated more than being ignored.

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  8. rusvw says:

    I will certainly do everything I can to assist with supporting the scholarship fund and keeping Jenn’s memory alive. The power of writing is so strong; it can bring us closer to healing, and it can move mountains in social and political ways. That’s why Jenn’s words are so important to us all, because she put them out there, through her posts, through her comments, and even through her photography.
    May we all continue to capture our thoughts, our lives, in writing and let it serve as the important historical and artistic document that we were here, and we mattered.

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  9. mysfit says:

    “nursing a Jack and Coke” – you have no idea, that’s just my poison – jenn disliked whiskey however 😉

    “there was nothing she hated more than being ignored”, as oldben says and a truer word has rarely been spoke. we all miss her very much and am sad that you never got to know her in life. however, thank you for the lovely sentiments and yes calr v.: you were, are, continue to be a dear friend.

    there are few things that jenn believed in more than love and friendship. and to those of us who did get to “hold her hand and kiss her cheek”, we are very grateful to learn that there are so many of you out there who continue to realize what an amazing person jenn is. but that was her gift – the ability to reach out and to touch no matter the distance or the means, no matter the effort, as long as there was a response, she was filled with joy and never gave up.

    so thank you, i love you even though i do not know you in the flesh, as it were. i regret that you never knew her in life, but i am grateful that you can come to know her by her words and pictures. thank you for taking the time to write this and thereby helping to spread jenn’s love and our own.

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  10. mysfit says:

    wow – i wrote a long comment and it’s not here. i will try again. for the moment though thank you for you sentiments.

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  11. MrGonSings says:

    Really great post to express what it’s so difficult to explain about our friends in the blogiverse… I loved -and love- dropping by her site and I miss her deeply… Beautiful words!

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  12. cynthia walker says:

    You ALL have no idea how comforting it is to continue to read about Jenn. It helps me believe that she is still around, just not in a state I can “see”. I will keep on checking for her. Miss her, love her and want her back. Oh well, c’est la vie.

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  13. cynthia walker says:

    Hi,I am back. Still checking in. The sch. fd. is moving fast forward. Lots of paperwork for the gov’mnt but still plodding on. I miss her so. Please stay in touch.

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