I suppose today marks a kind of “first” in electronic life, as today I learned of Karen Furstand’s death via a friend’s livejournal entry, and surfed subsequently to several other livejournals and a blog to find out what I could of what has happened. I wouldn’t call Karen a friend, but we did no each other, and she always made a point of saying hi to me around campus. If we hung out it was at a debate event, mostly at last years Calgary pro-am tournament. I can attest to the many good things being said about her, they are certainly true and not simply the niceties of eulogy. She was in no way a stereotype of the Greek system; she had time to speak with anyone, and spoke with intelligence sufficient to interest my most demanding of friends. She was also incredibly beautiful, perhaps I should be embarrassed in some way of mentioning this attribute, but I don’t see exactly why.
To me, this loss is shocking, in the sense that I have been in a state of shock and can’t seem to balance properly in my chair since I learned of her passing some thirty minutes ago.
Death is normal, it happens every few seconds. There are a thousand deaths which have occurred since I first learned of Karen’s. In fact, I would on some days argue that my shock and bias towards being concerned over this death even in this moment is in some important way racist and emblematic of some important social justice issues. But now, I think there is something very profound that we can discern from the loss of a colleague, that being the incredible importance of social relationships. I hardly knew her, I knew her mostly through others, I knew her through a society (debate) which I have entirely eschewed. And yet, I am shocked at her passing. I am deeply saddened at the loss of this one colleague who bears many special individual attributes, and I would be similarly saddened should I loose any other colleague who I knew to a similar extent, and considering how little I knew her, that group of people would be large. Anyway, this is really a long winded way of stressing the importance of Others in our lives, expressed here in the reaction to the sudden permanent absence of an Other.