My old school sends out newsletters to its alumni three times a year. The school has been posting them to my parents' place in Canberra. Mum has been saving them for me. It mostly contains information about graduates and their lives since leaving school.
In the latest issue, I found out that a guy from my class had passed away earlier in the year. We were never friends but it was still a shock. I immediately thought back to the first time I met him. It was the fifth grade. He and his family had arrived from Darwin. The teacher assigned him to the desk next to mine. After we graduated high school, I never saw him again. I still occasionally would bump into his mum at the local shops. I can't remember how I know her to be his mum but she was always very nice to me. I immediately thought of her and how she must be feeling.
The newsletter was extremely vague about his death. At around 34/35 years of age, I wondered how he died. Was it illness? An accident? Suicide? I decided to do a google search. And much to my surprise, I found some information.
First, I come across a tribute written by someone on their blog. The blog posting describes a much-loved, loyal young man who had many friends. It spoke about a guy who was witty and funny, and had no qualms about stripping down to his underwear in public when drunk.
Next, I see a youtube tribute showing a series of photographs...images taken on holiday in exotic locations...photos with mates at the pub...pictures of street art (he was a graffiti artist?). The person who made the tribute chose Michael Jackson's "Gone too Soon" and Robbie Williams' "Angels" as the accompanying sound track. I wonder about the choice of music. Would someone who enjoys spray painting public buildings enjoy listening to Robbie Williams?
Lastly, I read an online news article about an Australian who was found dead in his hotel room overseas. Staff at the hotel had seen the guest returning very late the previous night looking highly intoxicated. He was discovered in his room the next day - with blood coming out of his nose. The police say that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.
So...over the course of a 20 minute search on the internet, I had found out more about this guy than in the eight years I had spent at school with him...his life and his death played out on the internet for all to see.