Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Facebook friendships by Lise Milligan

Jamie and Cole

Everyone says that Facebook friendships don't mean much, or not as much as your "real" friends. This is a story about one that did, and how Facebook friends can mean so much to you.

A lot of us here on Facebook have met through playing Lexulous. I've made many good friends there, including Jamie. Jamie and I hit it off quickly and bonded over chocolate, music, movies and a shared sick sense of humor. He was 25 and a lot like the kid brother I'd never had. We would trade recipes and compare notes on hot men. I helped him plan a nice surprise for his boyfriend Cole, and he helped me plan a romantic pre-Christmas weekend with my husband.

  I'd whine about snow and he'd ask to trade places, as he didn't get to see it much in California and he missed it, being originally from England. Over the course of time, he confided in me and told me that he was off work as he was trying to build his immune system up in preparation for cancer treatment. It was his second bout with leukemia. It made me feel kind of small for complaining about a cold and when I said as much, he laughed and told me I was his ray of sunshine.

"you are the apple of my eye, and forever you'll stay in my heart"

Once he was in the hospital, for the first while he was in isolation, so not even Cole could go see him. He couldn't get any infection in preparation for a bone marrow transplant. He was going crazy with boredom, so he asked if I could start a few multi-player games with some of my other Lexulous buds, which I did. Brian Arsenault was nice enough to be one of those friends.

No matter how awful he was feeling, Jamie would never complain. Finally Cole was allowed in to stay with him, but as Jamie's immune system was still low, no other visitors were allowed in, and Cole couldn't go out. So over time, I got to know him as well through Lexulous. I'd ask him for updates on Jamie, as I could rely on him to tell me straight. I expressed frustration over not being able to be of more help, and he said, "Jamie listens to you. when you tell him to eat, he tries. if you plead with him to rest, he does. so you're helping". That touched me.

Jamie had the operation, and was slowly recuperating. He boasted about getting Starbucks hand-delivered to him by his doctor.... but the poor kid could barely drink his lattes. His appetite was almost nil, and so his strength was low. Still, he wouldn't complain. Cole was worried to death, and so was I.

 But slowly he was improving, to the point that he was allowed other visitors. In the meantime, I had just managed to land a position at a lab, and I was tickled pink. Jamie and Cole were two of my biggest cheerleaders through the whole process, and they were thrilled for me. We had other good news to celebrate: once Jamie's strength was up sufficiently, he would be allowed to go home. We were stoked.
February passed, and he was still in hospital, but still improving. Things were sounding more hopeful. Jamie threw a birthday party in his hospital room for Cole in early March, and it was a nice one, with friends and family around. in our Lexulous game, he told me how much he was looking forward to going home "to my pillows, my own bed, my own love-filled home". I was so happy for him. Then I got an e-mail message:

"I regret to have to inform you that Jamie passed away today.
We must take heart in the fact that he is not suffering anymore and is free of pain.
He passed away snuggled tight in Cole's arms which he described as 'perfect'.
He fought long and hard and spent months in the hospital battling cancer. A truly brave young man.

Please inform anyone whom you feel needs to know. You're receiving this email because you're part of a list that Jamie had personally handed over to me.

Take care.


 I was stunned and devastated. I cried so hard that my eyelids were chapped. My husband was a bit bewildered as to how I could grieve so much for someone I'd never met, but to me it was like we'd known each other for years and I wasn't alone. A bunch of his other lex friends were also distraught. We gave our love and support to Cole. He shared with us the instructions Jamie had left in the pics shown here. 

Apparently things worsened quickly, and knowing how little time he had left, in typical Jamie fashion he wanted to reassure his friends. He'd left even more instructions for Cole, and we all honored his wishes. Cole said for months later, he found little love notes tucked in pockets of his clothes. Jamie was just the sweetest, most thoughtful kid. When it snows, I'm reminded of my young friend who was taken way too soon. it was a year ago on March 11th.

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