The Last Time You See Someone

I had no idea that the last KPLUG meeting we had in December was the last time I'd see Bruce "Renigaid" Kingsland. The membership knew he was battling cancer, and had been for a while. It sounded like things were looking up. Obviously, they took a turn for the worst. While I wasn't particularly close to Bruce, he did add a great deal to our little Linux community and he will surely be missed. The long-time KPLUG members are planning to go up to Port Hadlock for his funeral this weekend.

I suppose I can take some solace in knowing that the last time I spoke with him, I helped him with something. It was related to his Linux box at home. He kept a Linux box nailed up to the Internet through a dialup modem—yes, there are people that still do that. He was trying to reach this box from the Internet. He had set up dynamic DNS so that his machine would be reachable. His machine had stopped being reachable and didn't know why.

Network troubleshooting is something I do fairly well, so of course I dug in and figured out that I didn't have enough information to help him. I told him I'd send him an email when I got home asking for the things I needed to go deeper into this. He sent the information, and lo and behold, I figured out what the issue was—his dynamic DNS wasn't updating properly.

It does make you think, though. If you knew that this was going to be the last time you saw someone, would you act differently towards that person? Would you say some things to that person?

I actually did see someone just before they died. In fact, they keeled over in front of me, quite literally. I was living in Hawaii at the time and was having lunch with Ray Beak, an older man whom taught me a lot about amateur radio. In fact, he had helped me get my amateur radio license (which I have since let expire). I did various things to fix his computer and we were going out to lunch after a session of beating the computer into submission. We were having lunch at the local Sizzler in Kona. We were sitting at the table waiting for our food and, all of a sudden, he gurgled and keeled over.

I ran up to the cashier to ask them to call an ambulance. An ambulance ride later, we're at the hospital and the doctors are checking him out. I wasn't family, so I wasn't allowed in with him or anything. I don't remember too much about it as I was very much in shock. But I do remember the doctor coming out to let us know he died. I also remember that a classmate of mine at school had committed suicide at around the same time.

Even though I knew it was the last time I'd see him alive, by then it was too late to actually say anything to him. Not sure what I would have said to him except "Thank you for everything." Maybe that's what I would have said to Bruce, too, had I known.