07 February, 2024

Death of a Friend

Crayon art by Jon Gronberg.
I didn't know Jon Gronberg as well as I could have. We met online in 2021 when a mutual friend introduced us, and we started playing games, sometimes weekly, over the next three years. I never saw Jon in person. I always interacted with his multitude of screen names: metatroid, antocitizen, arkanoid, etc.. I never saw his face; we only spoke via voice chat on Discord. But he was a friend, nevertheless, and life is now less with him gone from it.

Jon was a consummate gamer. In a condolence letter that Katherine and I wrote to his mother after his death, we talked about the games we would play, and how skilled he was in various genres. This was the Jon I knew: a fun person to play with.

We also wrote about the conversations we would have over Discord. As Katherine put it: "He strongly advocated for what he believed in during our many and varied talks, and he liked to have extensive and deep discussions on philosophy, politics, ethics, and even just jokes while we played." This was also the Jon I knew: a debater with strong communist beliefs.

And, of course, I cannot fail to mention how helpful he was with charitable work. He volunteered his time to problem-solve technical web stuff for me on a regular basis. He was always ready to lend a hand. Looking at his professional website, I see that he worked with lots of various charities over the years, not just mine. This was also the Jon I knew: a kind, giving person who loved to do good.

We didn't always see eye-to-eye. Our politics differed; our choice of how to relax differed; sometimes even the genres of games we preferred differed. But he was always, first and foremost, a friend whom I enjoyed playing regularly with.

The mutual friend who introduced us knew Jon as a close friend for twenty-five years. This loss has truly hurt him. He mentions it briefly in his latest blog entry. I don't know how to best be there for my grieving friend. They were close in the ways that only decades-old friends can be. The loss of such a close friend is hard for me to fully wrap my head around. Our mutual friend (whom I've known for 11 years) is now at a silent retreat for a few weeks. Hopefully it will help him to clear his mind and process the grief well, but it does mean that I have no way to contact him nor help him through this grieving period. I feel inadequate to the task.

I will miss you, Jon. Thank you for all the good times.

No comments:

Post a Comment