Thursday, March 8, 2012

Still Reeling

I really shouldn't be here. The hour is late ... very late ... and I have to work tomorrow. But that is what happens when you spend a couple of hours floating around the internets, reading and responding to tributes to a man you've never even "met". But that you knew so well. Oh well, something tells me sleep will be a might bit difficult tonightt this morning anyway.

It's been over 7 years since I first discovered Lex's. 7 years of reading, laughing, crying and arguing. Of being entertained. Of being educated. Of being very, very educated. 7 years in which I became part of an international online family - a large majority from the US, it's true, but also from around the world.

Anyone who has read here any amount will have seen many items borrowed from Lex's  over the years (as was the previous post), usually marked with a tip of the hat and numerous posts interspersed here and there (more so in the past, I am sad to say) where I directed you back to his place. Had I thought of it, I could have, probably should have created a label that simply read "Lex".

Once, I even left him some advice. Here. He dropped by to thank me, which I thought was awful neighbourly of him.

I haven't been to his blog so much lately. I haven't been to any of my favourite blogs much lately, including my own. It's about all I can do to keep at least some content going on the special needs blawg. But I always managed to still drop by Lex's occasionally,

I no longer drop in numerous times a day, no longer read all the comments for each post and engaged in playful banner or thoughtful conversation with the others. But I did drop by occasionally, skimmed the posts, stopping to read with absorption those where he discussed my favourite topic - flying.

When I dropped by this morning, I saw this post from Whisper at the top of the page, with close to 200 comments noted on it. What? It couldn't mean ... I clicked on the comments to no avail, kicked off the page as sometimes happen when there is simply too much traffic. With a frown, I went on to other things, knowing I would return later and try again. Busy, busy day. Busy, busy week.

I did make it back a few hours later, clicked on the comments again, which were now up to about 350 (I see they are up to 686 now) ... I scrolled through them without reading ... what the hell? And then posted a quick comment, please tell me this isn't what I think it is, supplied my personal email address. Once again went on my way. But I really didn't feel so good. When I checked my email awhile later I had 5 different emails ... some from people I knew, some I didn't (or at least not by their real names). Yes, they said. Yes, it's true.  His plane crashed. Into the side of a building. A few links were left to news stories. I still haven't read them.

When I sat down, I intended to make this short, very short. I knew I couldn't go to bed without saying something but thought I could make a short comment and save more for another day. I think it's now time for that short comment ....

But what do you say about a man who was always the consummate gentlemen? Extremely intelligent, but never coming off as one of "those" people. Who had a gift for writing far beyond any I've seen. Don't believe me? Try Rhythms. [As an aside, I always suspected that young pilot who had such difficulty landing at night was Lex ... he pretty much confirmed that once upon a time.]

He was sweet. He was funny. He had his beliefs, as we all do. But he articulated his so well, that whether or not you shared them, you respected him. He had an amazing sense of honour and duty. He loved his country and served it well. Right to the end. But he loved his family even more. That fact always came shining through. He held himself to a very high standard. And yet always seemed willing to grant another some slack.

And he ran one of the few places in the blogsphere where there could be intelligent, insightful conversations (often among people who disagreed) that never denigrated into those swear-filled internet debacles we're all so familiar with. He simply would not have it at his house. And he garnered enough respect amongst his readers, that it rarely was an issue. Although on occasion, he did see the need to tell us to settle down. To attack the message, if we must, but not the messenger. Because we're all friends here. Funny how he only had to speak once and that was enough.

And yet, when trolls came by, it was a spectacle to watch - without ever attacking the messenger, they were very quickly put in their place. At which point, they generally decided to exit. Stage left. Which reminds me, he wrote a great post on trolls once upon a time...

He threatened to leave us once or twice, when life became too overwhelming (as it does for us all) but we would have none of it.

He gave us the Flight Deck ... where the longest running coversation on health care ever hosted by a naval aviator was held.

I did some searching through Neptunus Lex to find some of the links above. Came across posts that brought a smile to my face. Then a tear to my eye.

There's only one problem, you see. I don't really believe he's gone.

I actually think that might be an occupational hazard of having close internet friends, ones whom you rarely or never actually see in person. A close friend passed away last year. We met once for a wonderful weekend in Oxnard. But I knew her for ... I have no idea ... over 10 years online. We laughed and cried and supported one another through some of the most intimate, personal time in our lives, those involving the health issues of our children.

And yet, much as with Lex, I don't think it's ever actually sunk in for me. That she's. Really. Gone.

Fair winds and following seas, Captain. And thank you for all you've given us. Words are totally inadequate to express my sympathy to your family. I occasionally wondered over the years if his wife knew how lucky she was. But I know. She does.

I can see Lex's son carrying on in the Navy in his father's footsteps, throwing himself all the more into that life in the wake of this tragedy. But I can't see the future for his wife and two daughters. Daughters need a father and I will pray a wee extra bit for one of them. Wives need a husband. We often thanked her for sharing him, now all we can offer are our condolences. Just words but they're sincere.


Pinch said...

Nicely put, Michelle. He was a keeper, no doubt. The legacy he leaves behind, though, will ensure his memory will never fade.

tam said...

Oh MMC....I know how much he meant to you. I often hopped over to his blog through your links.

He will be missed.

Much love to you my friend. I wish I was closer....for so many reasons.


Pogue said...

Well said Michelle. I'm having trouble coming to terms with it myself.

Dave Harvey said...

Thank you for your post, though I know and understand how hard it was to write. I've penned my own tribute to Lex over at my site if you'd like to stop by and take a look.

-Dave "Padre" Harvey

Kris, in New England said...

I am bereft; feeling like I lost my brother. Oh how will the world ever be the same Michelle.

And then I recall posts about talking burrito's and sexy Ambien and I am reminded - that Lex would scold us to the ends of the earth to know we are carrying on over him like this.

His was well and truly a life well-lived and quite clearly, well-loved.

Jaimo said...

Thanks for sharing this. Your name is on the honored list of 'regulars' who's comments I enjoyed over the years as I lurked.

James T. (posted as Jaimo)

Paul in BarneyFrankistan said...

A lovely tribute Michelle - your links led to some posts that were my favorites as well and remind us, yet again, of what a fundamentally decent man Lex was.