I remember where I was when I heard.
I was sitting in the Aj6 office when I logged into E2 to get some information to help in writing an educational programme. The front page's news section said that ephealy had died.
I'd been noding for a few months by then; I'd made level 2, and had a fairly good feel for the site. I'd also read quite a lot of ephealy's writeups, as many of them ovelapped into areas I'm interested in. I didn't always agree with his analysis of historical and biblical events, but I still thought they were worthwhile. I'd even got a ching! from him back in May.
I spent a long time staring at the monitor before someone in the office asked me what was wrong. I said that someone I didn't really know had died. It sounded strange then. But I felt that I'd encountered ephealy in his writing, and I really felt a loss. Like a part of something I felt was really valuable had gone forever.
I mourned, in my own little way. I kept the Cool Man Eddie message "ephealy just cooled your writeup on Cogito ergo sum, baby".
I put /me misses ephealy on my homenode. I made more of an effort to speak to noders in the catbox, and to comment on their writeups.
Yesterday evening, The Debutante mentioned that ephealy wasn't, in fact, dead. Rather he had faked his death in order to avoid harrassment.
This made me feel very weird. For a fleeting second I was angry, but that rapidly went away and left me feeling stangely empty instead. I didn't doubt he had good reasons. I began thinking that we each encounter hundreds of other noders every day. Lucy-S said in yesterday's daylog that we never show our true selves on E2. I think that she's wrong; we don't have anyone else to show. Sure, the E2-me and the everyday me are different, but they are both entirely me.
But noders are more than themselves. To quote John Donne:
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind.
When ephealy 'died', Everything2 was diminished and I felt that loss keenly. now he's back, we are in some sense restored, and perhaps we have grown too, learnt a little more of what makes this place what it is.
And so, gentle noder, learn from this that you make a difference to hundreds of people every time you write a node; remember that you are loved in ways you aren't aware of. And contribute to this great project of ours with head held high and a joyful heart. We're changing people -- including ourselves -- every day. It's what we do.