Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Yesterday I found my way into Jesse's email account and was halfheartedly deleting all the junkmail, looking for possible posts from friends and former debate students who might have written him (I do this about once every six months). I stumbled on his "sent mail" file and found literally hundreds of little emails of his. It was a side of him I didn't often see: casual, relaxed, trading jokes with friends, and responding to requests for time, or asking for help finding a job, or for a referral from a professor or friend. Of course there was the occasional personal complaint about "Mom" too, but nothing terrible. What struck me was how much his personality reminded me of my closest childhood friend. The dry wit, the innate kindness underneath it all. And I began to think, had I unintentionally built another version of my friend? Right down to how he complained about me-- my friend has said the same kinds of things about his mom over the years. Of course I emailed him (we are still friends, 48 years later) and his response was: The lad was very smart, had a logical mind and little tolerance for bullshit. How could he avoid it?

I wish they had known each other better. Which is to say, I wish I had known him better, and he me. I have a feeling at some point, he might have found less to complain about.


  1. What an unanticipated (to me) blessing from this seemingly cold and detached technology.


  2. I sort of knew, early on that I would find an unknown number of his emails, IMs, posts and so on as time went by. It had bugged me that there was so little writing, when you can see from his blog that he had a gift for it. I guess he was as bad as I am about putting it down on paper.

  3. Do you print them out? It may be astounding to gather them in hard copy, and put together a compilation.

    I'm a visual person, so that's where my mind goes. Seeing them, gathered.

  4. I have the IM history printed out, and his facebook page. Facebook was really shitty about letting me keep his page open. They refused to even let me in it Fortunately, one of his best friends gave me his facebook addy and password so I could access Jesse's as a friend. I can't find the printout at the moment, but I really want to reach out to his friend list for a birthday gathering on what would be his 25th bday.

  5. I think that would be an awesome thing... and getting some of them involved would probably be something they would enjoy doing .... making sure that people knew, finding people, stuff like that.

    Do you still have his computer? With the hard drive intact? I bet someone who knows what they're doing could get lots of stuff off of it for you.

    If you have his friends list from Facebook you may also be able to find pictures that you haven't seen that people have posted to their own pages. If you join as a friend, and let them know your FB name, they can tag YOU and then you can find the pictures.

    I have a friend who died and his daughter is now tagged in any pictures that he is in. It's neat to see her post, she's all grown up now. I remember when she was a little girl.

  6. Not only do I have his computer, I got rid of my own and switched to his. I even use his wallpaper. It's a group photo of the high school debate team he coached in Michigan. One of the reasons I patrol his email is because those sweet kids will occasionally email him to see how he's doing & I don't want them to go off believing he had forgotten about them.

  7. Yeah. I would do that too. All of it.

    Do the birthday gathering. I think it sounds like a great idea.


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