There are two different angles from which I want to muse, however briefly and poorly, on the recent death of a friend.
First: social media has made the experience of friendship, loss, and mourning weird in ways that I don’t yet know how to articulate. I don’t go on Facebook much, but about two weeks ago while scrolling my feed I noticed a post from my old friend Ariel. The post was pretty unremarkable, but it made me think of him for a moment.
I wondered what he was up to, what he’d been working on lately – it had been a few years since we last communicated. But social media gives us a sense that people in our lives are just there, anytime, waiting to be reached whenever you feel like it. So I continued scrolling my feed and instantly forgot about him. Today, I learned that he died a few days ago.
Second: our relationship went back about a decade and a half, when I first got myself involved in a production of a musical he wrote. I remember many conversations about music: learning it, pursuing it as a career, doing it as a side hustle, etc. A few years after that, we reconnected when he needed someone to help him record his musical.
We met up many times over several weeks to arrange and record 20 or so songs – he was very glad to get me on board at that time because I was a couple of months away from flying off to Singapore to study music. We had many more conversations about composing, piano playing, musicals, etc. Even after I left, we stayed loosely connected, and occasionally he’d get my help on something he was working on. I gave him advice about notation software.
He was a self-taught musician, which always took a backseat to his real job, and he picked my brain at every opportunity because I was the “real” composer. But I think he loved music more than I ever did, and was so humbled by it in a way that I don’t often see in people, which showed in how gently he always acted and spoke. I admired him for these reasons, and regret not getting his own advice. May his memory be eternal.