Last night, I read something on Twitter that made me laugh enough to visit the poster’s profile. Once there, I decided to click through to his web site, where I read the following, dated May 11:
“I regret to write that Jamie Leigh Dyer Dordek, known to many of us as yellowsuitcase and @jamield, passed away on Sunday. Her death appears to be related to a blood clot from her fall in Ireland.”
Having recently seen false “reports” of celebrity deaths on Twitter, I looked for @jamield, half-expecting to find her actively posting. Instead, I felt a knot in my stomach when I saw that her last update was just after noon on May 9:
Driving to Dana Point to spend the day on a boat. I know I just got home, but I really need another vacation.
I clicked on the Web link on Jamie’s page, ORD to LAX, which turned out to be a dialogue between Jamie and her friend, Marc. The most recent post directed readers to a memorial page on Facebook, and also to Marc’s flickr album with pictures from her last weekend. The Facebook page was a group with more than 500 members, and the album included pictures taken on the aforementioned boat.
In the course of a few minutes, I went from laughing at a witty post to crying over pictures of a laughing, vibrant woman ten years my junior, whose life ended the next day. I read more of Jamie’s words and found myself grieving over the loss of a friend I had never met and questioning my own mortality.
The more we embrace the “What are you doing?” mentality of sharing our real-time minutiae with the world, the harder it is to differentiate between immediacy and intimacy. We reach across continents and touch others, sometimes before we even finish our own thoughts, and then we become so accustomed to their daily (or hourly) updates that we are significantly impacted when the channel goes blank.
Jamie’s Twitter page lists nearly 700 followers; she was following 542. After seeing her pictures and reading more of her words, I know that several hundred people are experiencing a real sense of loss. Had I been fortunate enough to have known her, I imagine I would have clicked on her profile several times, still refusing to believe she had nothing more to say.
My heart goes out to Jamie’s family and friends, and to everyone who is dealing with grief and loss.
When I was moving from Twitter to Jamie’s blog and back last night, I read a post by Seth Simonds that resonated with what I was feeling:
Let’s say you’re given 10 secs to call out the top five priorities in your life or die. Could you? Do you know what’s most important to you?
I believe that Jamie could have done it without hesitation.