I first noticed a disturbance in the force at the start of the month.
Not a full-on twitterite, I follow less than 100 @handles, however by the aggregation of mentions, retweets and metatweets it makes for a fairly steady stream of commentary. I can watch the flow like one would watch a busy streetcorner from a window above, every so often a face or snippet of conversation registering to my eye or ear as the crowd passes.
Sometimes I would gaze through my twitter window hoping specifically to catch a certain character or other on their way past my vantage point. Happily I could reach out and rewind and fast-forward the stream, scanning it for insights or sometimes just for the assurance that my daughter or a friend was simply still there, still ranting or enthusing.
Just as you might smile and wave at the barber on your way to the office, I made it a habit this summer to check every day to see how my friend @michaelocc was getting on. Stricken with cancer, bedridden and often silenced by medications and procedures, he carried on a daily conversation with his family, friends, and the rest of the twitterverse. Occasionally I would say hello, more often I would quietly observe the heartwarming and uplifting banter he would trade with all comers.
When his feed fell silent last week, I feared the worst, and today I hear from many grieving friends and colleagues that indeed, Michael died last night. He was a giant of an imp of a man and I shared many a hearty laugh with him. We started our blogs one day apart from each other back in 2001 (his was first) and crossed paths many times. I shall miss him greatly.
As I watch the flow of my feed, the grieving and the fond memories of Michael rise above the hubbub. I know that these will become fewer and that they will fade into the daily hustle and bustle. Until then, I will cherish the opportunity I have to rewind the stream just one more time.