When the tiles stop

When I was laid off from my old job a little over three years ago, one of the things that helped me kill time was Scrabble on Facebook. I still play a lot. I’ve taken up Words with Friends, as well, but the competitive bastard in me prefers Scrabble because it keeps win-loss stats.

However, one of the sad things, aside from the fact that my losses still outnumber my victories, is that in the three years-plus that I’ve been playing the game, three people who I knew pretty much exclusively through Scrabble have passed away, with the latest occurring last night.

I actually knew the first person to pass away well before Facebook, from the days when AOL was actually the closest thing we had to a social network, and not just a company for Arianna Huffington to mismanage into the ground. We met in a chat room about sports, and stayed in touch via IM and email, but never actually met, or even spoke on the phone. She had brain cancer, and after it appeared that she had beaten it, the disease came back with a vengeance. I found out because her sister posted it on her Facebook page.

The second happened a few months ago, and I found out the same way, but I have no clue what happened, and I don’t even know if the guy was sick. Other than occasional chit-chat during Scrabble games, we didn’t really interact with each other at all. I was still stunned to learn of his passing, even though I barely knew him.

This morning, I learned about the third Scrabble friend to pass away. He had been battling Crohn’s disease for some time, and was in and out of the hospital, often unnecessarily apologizing when he went days without making a move. Much like the second, I didn’t really know him, other than the same type of in-game chatter, but reading the news this morning still made me pause for a bit.

Death is a strange thing. It always seems to make people stop in their tracks, no matter how remote their connection to the deceased was. Even though I never really knew any of the three people I just wrote about, I hope they are resting easy.

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