Why do I feel as though I have no real right to speak up? Do I actually have anything to say?

After all, I didn’t know him, really. I read what he wrote. I thought when he wrote. My little world expanded when he wrote.

Over the past year and a half, his writing introduced me to political and social issues I may never have heard of otherwise, much less pondered. He introduced me to Ani DiFranco’s music. He was quick to respond to my e-mailed request for (socio)linguistics authors to start fanning my blooming curiosity about the field. His passion for recognizing and pointing out social injustices piqued my interest and helped me step out of my computer-geek-bookworm-anti-social box into a more world-conscious box.

I never met him in person. I never held an Instant Messaging conversation with him because I didn’t want to bother him. No phone conversations. I eagerly awaited his newest posts, curious as to whether I would find something new to stretch my mind a little; hell, one of these days I was going to screw up my courage enough to leave a comment. I sent him a couple of small e-mails. I saw him rather scantily clad (or completely nude) in photography on a former SO‘s site.

I have no real idea how he thought, or lived, or what he must have experienced to be able to write what he did (and how he did) in his more serious posts. Or why, in anything other than extrapolations from my own experiences with pre-suicidal despair, he is now dead.

Jen touched my heart at 02:00 this morning as I took a brief break from Probability to read “my corner” of the web. I can only second Bernie‘s comments on the situation. I have been rocked into a pensive, sad mood that I can’t really quantify.