I know this writeup is rather long. It is exactly as long as it must be. Please bear with me.
Real names are used in this writeup because we are all real people, and none of us is innocent.
I first met Adam on a warm August night in New England. My flight arrived late into Boston due to storms in the Northeast, and I was delivered to Will's house in Chelmsford late that evening by Narbey and Miller in Narbey's Saturn. The gathering had only just begun, and Adam had driven up earlier in the day from Maryland in his brand new jet-black turbo Volkswagen Jetta. As I began to meet everyone there for the first time, Adam and I made an almost immediate connection as friends, as we both shared a sarcastic quality to our senses of humor. His wit, intelligence and smartass demeanor sealed the deal: I knew this was a guy with whom I had a lot in common.
Adam was a charmer. He was from Texas, but you would have never guessed that about him in a million years. He had a bartender's appreciation for a well-made cocktail, and a smooth style when interacting with the ladies that I was only witness to in a peripheral sense. He exuded a casual manner in his short pants and bare feet, which was oddly offset by his overt choice of wearing all black. All black. Maybe it should have registered with me then, but it didn't.
After a good amount of "getting to know yous" and drinking (we were in BAP territory, where it's compulsory), hunger found several of us taking a road trip to Nashua, New Hampshire with Adam at the wheel. As we sped north on Highway 3 at 90+ MPH with all the windows down, I realized that Adam was a man that lived life on the edge. He drove that Jetta like it was a Ferrari, and he gave the only other car on the road at 3 AM a run for its money — a high-end BMW that eventually left us staring at its tail lights. We managed to make it to the Denny's in Nashua without incident, although the squealing tires and blowing car horn in the parking lot seemed to irritate the police officer on duty in the restaurant.
That weekend was so special in so many ways. I don't usually write aftermath nodes because I could practically write a book about each of them, and I personally feel that this particular element of E2 is something that can only be adequately conveyed in real life. If you really want to know what happens at a noder gathering, attend one yourself.
When it was time to say our farewells on Sunday, it was Adam that drove me to Logan Airport for my flight home. We got sort of lost on our way there, as the highway system in Massachusetts can be difficult to navigate at many points. When he dropped me off at the Departures level, we shook hands and I took comfort in knowing that we would soon meet again.
A week later, we found ourselves together at Chris
' cabin in the foothills of North Carolina
. I had driven up from Tallahassee
, where I picked up Ted
and let him drive the rest of the way in my car
. We got there as the sun was setting over the mountains, and Adam arrived soon thereafter with Kit Lo
on board. Another noder-filled weekend
ensued, and while I did not get to spend as much quality time with Adam as I had the previous weekend, our friendship grew stronger nonetheless.
Adam was something of a perfectionist. Proof of this lies in his formula for the Martini of Death: a mixture and method that could not be compromised. He even brought his own Martini glasses with him to the party, as he had done in Boston. I sampled a sip from Andy's glass and found it to be exquisite. He took off on Saturday with Rosie and some others to seek out a source of humor he had found on his trip down, and the pictures and stories we have about it are an indelible memory from that weekend. I think back on it now and wonder if I was so busy cooking and organizing things that I missed out on a lot that happened away from the cabin. So many noders, off on their own adventures... it would have been impossible to join in with all of them. But we had the tunnel. We had the music, and the magic was all around us. I'm just grateful that I was there.
Adam and his carpoolers took off for parts North that Sunday afternoon. I remember well our parting moments, and standing in the gravel driveway... waving goodbye as that car he loved so much, which he had custom ordered from the factory, sped off down the hill toward the Blue Ridge Parkway. I didn't know it then, but that would be the last time I would ever see him.
Our friendship grew stronger in the following weeks. We would message each other on E2, and spend time chatting together privately on #everything
... not every day, but almost. I began to sense from him that the personal problems he had discussed with me face to face
in Boston and Sparta were weighing more heavily on his mind, and his daylog comments
about drinking more than usual began to worry me. I kept asking him if he was going to be okay, if he wanted to talk about it... but he always brushed off the subject. His response was "No, I'm not okay. But thank you, I'll be all right."
Then came the eye-opener. Laura's phone contact with Adam had been the saving grace it seemed, and I was awakened to a vast multitude of connections that existed between the community and Adam that I had been unaware of before. I also knew now that his depression was far more serious than I had previously suspected. I messaged him immediately with my toll-free pager number, asking him to please call me any time, day or night... that I urgently wanted to speak with him. He finally messaged me back, saying that he was sorry that he couldn't call me because he would become too emotional to speak to me.
Living over a thousand miles away, there seemed little that I could do to help him through this difficult time. As he was emotionally unable or unwilling to reach out to me, I tried to maintain as much contact with him as I could through E2 and #e. We chatted every day after the 6th, as I wanted to check on him and reassure him that everyone here loved him and would do anything we could to help him out. His response was always the same: "No, I'm not okay. But thank you, I'll be all right."
Our last interaction with each other was on Sunday night, September 9th. I logged on to E2 and discovered that he had chinged my monthly Editor Log. I went to #e to see if he was there, and he was. I was a little alarmed about his C!, as I had some irrational fears about my editorial work being brought so prominently into public view. He explained that he was proud of me for the effort that I put into my Editor Logs, that he felt every Editor Log should be so detailed. He especially liked the fact that I included the Klaproth comments with each nuke. I calmed down and thanked him for the recognition, and we spoke a bit more. I asked him again if he was doing okay. He gave me his usual response. I reassured him that I was here for him if he needed me. He expressed his gratitude... and that was all.
I awoke on Monday morning to the clock radio playing an old David Bowie song
, an acoustic cover performed by a band with a female lead singer. I remember lying in bed listening to it and thinking how lovely it was. Its significance did not register with me at the time. I got to work a little late, and logged on to E2 to check my messages. My inbox contained a single message from Hermetic
: "I am sorry, Dave. My password to E2 is"...
I immediately went to Adam's home node to see if he was still online. He had posted a note there... an apology, his home address and some other personal information that people do not usually disclose. His "last seen" time was six minutes ago. (Six minutes. I could have been there.) I logged on to #e to see if he was there. He was logged in, but his session had idled out. I sent him several private messages, but got no response. I kept checking back to his home node, and back to #e to see if he would log back on or respond. I messaged Andy on #e: "Have you talked with Adam this morning?" "No, why?" "I'm afraid he's actually going to do it this time." The gravity of the situation began to slowly sink in, and my mind raced for the answer of what to do.
I picked up the phone and dialed information to find the direct number of the 911 dispatch in Montgomery County, Maryland where Adam's home address was. When I asked for the number of the police department, the operator asked "Is this an emergency, sir?", to which I replied "Yes ma'am, it is." After several transfers and delays, I was patched through to the emergency operator in Damascus. I explained the situation, and gave the dispatcher all of the information that Adam had posted on his home node. I was assured that they would send someone over to his home to check on him.
I could go into more detail about what transpired after this, but I will not. I learned about an hour later from Peg that the police had found Adam at his home. She had driven up from Washington, D.C., and had arrived at about the same time that they did. I finally got a call back from Ken Penrod, a Montgomery County homicide detective, at 12:07 PM informing me of what I already knew... that Adam was deceased. Peg paged me, and I spoke with her shortly after that. A little while later I faxed Mr. Penrod the information I had printed out from Adam's homenode, at the detective's request.
I started writing out my memories of Adam on Monday
night, in hopes of coming to terms with my feelings about what had happened. As the evening progressed into the early morning, my mental exhaustion became too great and I had to stop and go to bed. When I awoke the next morning and got to work, I experienced another horrific tragedy along with the rest of the world that compounded my grief and feelings of loss to an almost unmanageable degree. While those events have nothing to do with Adam, they served to prolong my grieving process for him. I found myself unable to focus or function normally. Like so many of us, I was in shock and disbelief over the events of September 11, 2001
for days and days. It is only now, a week later, that I have been able to finish compiling my thoughts about my friend.
I find it incredibly cruel that my grieving process for Adam was so brutally interrupted by an act of terrorism. It may be selfish of me, but I feel cheated... my personal loss was immediately overwhelmed with a far greater sense of loss and fear the likes of which my nation has not known since its abrupt entry into World War II. The target of my anger and grief has been moving around like pieces on a chess board, and I have been left with a sense of overwhelming tiredness and anxiety. My grieving process has not yet ended as a write this, but the healing has finally begun. I can finally bring myself to focus on Adam's death, and the lessons to be learned by it.
Adam had suffered from bipolar disorder
for many years. Mental illness
is no different than any other treatable physical illness, although it is still widely perceived as something unnatural and undeserving of professional treatment. Adam could have continued to take the medication that had been prescribed to him, but he did not. So many of us here in this community tried to reach out to him and help, but we could not. From what I have learned about the history of his illness and his family's awareness of it, I know that so many efforts were made to get him the help he so desperately needed. They might have been successful, but they were not.
After my initial tears were shed, I was angry at Adam. That feeling is not uncommon, and from what I have read here, it was shared by many of you. My anger quickly subsided when I came to my senses, and realized that Adam's actions were not directed out of reason or malice, but out of illness. Short of actually being there to restrain him, there was nothing that any of us could have done at the time to stop him from taking his own life. All of us that knew him, and knew that he was in trouble... we all did all we could. There are so many "What if" and "If only" thoughts that haunt us, but in the end, we all did all we could. It wasn't enough to save our friend, but it was all that we could do.
Adam loved Everything2
. He had been here for years, and grew to appreciate the many intangible qualities of this web site. He knew that nate
and dem bones
had carefully crafted this place with a purpose and a mission, and he respected that tremendously. But he also knew that E2 was something more than the sum of its virtual parts. His own words are a testament
to the fact that Everything is a community
... Everything is a family
. We are all here, hiding behind our user names, pouring our facts and fantasies and lives into this database, feeding off the content of others and sometimes reacting to it. Adam loved daylogs, but he saw past their prevalence for being an exercise in recording the mundane; he sought to promote them as an opportunity for us all to share glimpses of our lives that carry meaning for others. He understood that, in the final analysis, Everything is here for everyone... not just for you. Everything is forever... not just for today. Everything is a common thread of global human consciousness... not just an American web site for you to post your two cents about masturbation and video games.
When a community like ours experiences a personal loss of this nature, it is only natural for there to be an outpouring of sentiment. I have been deeply moved by the many expressions of grief that have been posted here since Adam's death, even ones by noders who did not know him personally. When you choose to record a part of yourself in a forum such as this, you never know who may read it, or how they may react to it. It is possible to form deep emotional bonds with people here that you may never meet or even speak with.
I have always been fond of the expression, "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words cause permanent damage." Words can also heal broken hearts, cry out from the depths of the soul, lift lowered spirits, sing of joyous rapture, and convey ideas and feelings that transform everyone who reads them into better people.
If you were privileged to know Adam, or even if you've only read his words here, I hope that you will come to understand what he knew: Everything2 is powerful... it is important... it has meaning in our lives. Please do what you can to make Everything2 a better place for everyone. It will honor Adam's memory, and would have made him proud.
Godspeed, Adam. I love you too.