Death is… difficult. It’s the waiting and the news and the disbelief. It’s the silence oh the silence the silence that no one can break. It’s that hole where someone used to be and the ones left behind. The ones, not quite whole, left behind. It’s confusion and anger but with no one to blame but maybe yourself because you should have done more but what could you do? The world has stopped and gone too fast.
We got the news last Sunday night. A guildie of mine, by the name of Hammerstein, had passed away. He had been fighting Stage Four small cell lung cancer for months and the whole guild had been rooting for him. But then he has dropped communication for a couple weeks and then the fateful text on Sunday.
Hammer was one of those people who quietly made the world a better place. He wasn’t flashy or dramatic but he brightened the world just a little bit for everyone he talked to. Hammer helped anyone with anything- he aided another guildie set up her entire gaming rig over the phone. He was there, supportive, cheery, and optimistic.
Hammerstein was a good guild member, but he was so much more than just that. He was a human being, thinking, feeling, suffering. Hammer was a part of us, the human part of us. The part that found joy in all aspects of life. We supported Hammer with his medical expenses and difficulties and he supported us against our every day toils and troubles, a listener to confide in. Hammer was real.
And in pain. The little bit that Hammer described to us seemed almost unbearable. He couldn’t stand, couldn’t move, and was undergoing intense chemotherapy. And yet he still found the time to log in and chat with us.
We set up a Go Fund Me account to help with transportation (since he could not drive) and sent him all the support we could. And I hope that what we did helped, if even a little.
And then that fateful Sunday.
There seems to be this misconception that the immediate response to the news of a friend’s death is big and dramatic. The waterworks come out and the world seems to end. In reality, it’s… it’s not like that.
It’s emptiness. This feeling of vast, wide, and unmovable emptiness. Like all you do is futile. It’s quiet and private but it hurts more than anything else in the entire world.
And then you see the messages from the other people in your guild. And that’s when the tears come. But they aren’t satisfying. It’s like the emptiness manifested. Streams of nothingness down your cheeks.
It’s a problem but there’s nothing you can do to fix it. You can’t talk it out, reach a compromise, nothing. The worst part, you can’t talk to the friend. And in my case, I never got to say good bye.
I’ve been blessed in that I’ve never experienced death first hand. It’s always been people I knew of or people I knew distantly. But this one was close. This one was someone who I used to talk to every single day. And now, this horrible feeling of nothingness and lack of closure.
The following week was rough. I was dealing with my personal feelings but on top of that, I also had to break the news multiple times to multiple people. How can you tell people something like that? What could you possibly say? I was also very worried about another one of my friends. She was closer to Hammer than anyone else. They had called each other almost daily. When her and I were talking about it, it was the only time I’d ever heard her cry.
More bad news, we learned that Hammer didn’t have very many family members. They were trying to track down his step brother, who he had never met, to help put together some sort of burial service. It was beginning to look like we were the only ones who could give Hammer some sort of memorial.
Back when, as a guild, we had first started offering moose carries, one of the first people we wanted to get their moose had been Hammerstein. We knew about his condition so we wanted to do something nice for him, something to cheer him up and show him how we were rooting for him. Unfortunately, we never got a chance. Hammer never logged in and his spot remained reserved. We ticketed a few GMs about this but there was nothing that they could do.
Then suddenly one night, my friend who used to talk to Hammer all the time gets a call. It was from Hammer’s cell phone. Just a bit apprehensive, she answered and found out that it was the step brother. He had been tracked down and had found the texts from her. The two talked for a long time and a plan was decided upon. We were going to get that moose for Hammer. His step-brother would log on and we would carry him through a Heroic Archimonde kill.
Saturday night arrived and Hammer’s brother logged into his toon. The majority of the guild was informed that this was not Hammer, this was his step-brother and we were going to finally get Hammer’s character the moose. Led over phone by a woman he had just met, playing a video game for the first time in his life, carried in a raid by a team of 20 people, cheered on by a guild of over 1000 people, Hammer’s step brother defeated Heroic Archimonde and earned the Grove Warden. Hammerstein the Dwarf Hunter mounted up onto his majestic moose and leapt into the sky, never to come back down.
This was the most beautiful thing I have ever been a part of. It didn’t magically solve all the problems, didn’t revive Hammer from the beyond. But it provided closure. It was the final salute to a brave man who fought so valiantly and touched the lives of so many. It was our final good bye.
Our lives are like sound. We come into contact with each other and resonate uniquely and then eventually fade away. We create beautiful chords and melodies and songs with thousands of emotions but in the end we end like we begin. Loved.
In memory of Hammerstein <oTQ>
There will be a memorial service held at 8pm CST (server time) tomorrow on the realm Nesingwary/Nazgrel/Vek’nilash in remembrance of Hammerstein. If you would like to say a few words, please contact me or any of the other officers before the service. The service will be held both in in-game chat and in the guild’s mumble.