A very close friend of mine, John Nichols, died of pancreatic cancer two and a half years ago. It was tragic, though mercifully shorter than it might have been with some other drawn out disease. No one should go at age 50 though. His death was one of three that year that made me feel mortal, sad, and more alone than I’d felt since getting married and having kids. So you can imagine my shock when there was an email from John this morning. In the way your mind is sometimes confused by reality and desire, my heart skipped a beat seconds away from reconnecting with my old pal.
Of course, in the meanest of tricks, it was a spammer, using my friend’s email to convince me to click on “overweight cure” or “cheap viagra,” as well as a few others I got in quick succession. The spammer, using whatever program he has, is of course unaware that he is digging for emails among the dead. It’s just one more of millions of emails to use in the hope of selling just a few Nigerian gold schemes.
For me though, it means something I never thought I’d do. It wasn’t something my friend John did or said. But after 25 years of shared jokes, put-downs, late nights, and frank talks, I was about to mark his email address as “spam.”
Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll wait and see if the spam trickles off. If it does and I get a funny reminder of old Nichols every few weeks or months, it might be a kind of inside joke we’ll continue to share over the years. I’ll just have to avoid the temptation to click on the link and see if there’s something more there, speaking to me from the other side.
Rest in peace, John Nichols, but keep sending me mail.