Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Finding friends, losing friends

Ever since I signed on to Facebook a few months ago I have been overwhelmed by the number of old friends, past co-workers and distant (geographically) relatives I’ve been able to reconnect with, even if it is just to find out where and what they are doing some 20 to 30 years later.
But an added consequence of finding old friends is that you lose some as well. By that I mean that I have learned that some old friends from long ago have passed away. One person died in a car wreck, another had a heart attack. Although they died years ago, I had been oblivious to their passing until just recently when I reconnected with old friends who had kept up with them better than I had.
But perhaps the most wrenching experience has been the very recent death of Steve Damm, who I hardly knew at all. Steve passed away over the Labor Day weekend from a form of brain cancer.
I knew Steve mostly through his wife, Tyra, when we worked together for a short time at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. They were a young couple without kids and went to the same church that we did. I met Steve maybe half a dozen times at various work-related social functions. Then they moved to Dallas and we moved to San Antonio. End of story.
Except that when I got onto Facebook I hooked back up with a bunch of my old A-J co-workers, including Tyra, and in that way learned of their nearly two-year struggle with Steve’s brain cancer. Tyra is now a columnist with the Dallas Morning News and was documenting their ordeal through her columns, blogs, Twitter and Facebook. It was all quite remarkable. You couldn’t help but be pulled into their daily struggle. And what really hit home the hardest for me was that they now have two young children, nearly the same age as my own - a boy just entering second grade (my son just entered first grade) and a girl in pre-K about age 4 (my daughter is 3).
You can follow and retrace Tyra and Steve’s remarkable journey here.
Funeral services for Steve are set for this Saturday in Dallas.

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