Written by John P.
This is a pretty personal piece about my life, it feels kinda weird to share really. I’ve been processing emotions about friends and family passing lately, and I like to write in a journal about my feelings, but for once I felt like talking about it publicly is what I should do. My reaction to someone passing is not the “usual” reaction. I don’t break down and become inconsolable. In more recent years it’s more like a very empty feeling, I don’t know if someone will read that and feel validated but you’re not alone in that reaction.
The first time I ever experienced loss was at a pretty young age. I had an Uncle who is literally the reason why I’m into technology. Being that I was young when he passed I don’t remember much, just that one day he was gone. They say it was a heart attack, but that side of the family always debates whether that was true or not. I do remember every time he came over he would ask for black coffee and wore a black newsboy cap. I honored him with recreating his hat in Team Fortress 2.
The first time I experienced a loss of a friend was shortly into my freshman year of high school. I had a good friend in middle school, we sat near each other in English/Social Studies, and as a result we would talk quite a bit. We both had the same goofy sense of humor and would make jokes all the time. Moving onto high school was hard for me. I’m not good at making friends, and have pretty bad social anxiety. One day I came home from school to talk to the person I considered to be my best friend, only for them to drop the news that they were going to different high school.It was hard to understand, I almost didn’t believe it, even though I knew it was true.
I memorialized her in TF2. There was a set of pins that would let you put whatever you wanted on them. I re-created a pin that she had in real life. It was a jar of peanut butter and jam that said “We Be Jammin'” on it.
The most recent family member I lost was my Grandma. It’s hard to know where to start with talking about her. She was the most caring person I knew. She was a second mother to me. I feel like I’m basically just a clone of her and my Mom, like for example one of the last times I talked to her she was joking about the situation with her health. I’m always joking about trauma and difficult things in my life. I used to visit her every summer, until I got a little older and not being around my friends for the summer started causing me to be really depressed. Even when I was really bad about talking to her she still asked about me, and kept me in her prayers. I regret not spending more time with her while I had the chance. Over the past few years her health was getting worse and worse. During the last few months of her life we got to talk again like when I was much younger. I believe that you only a few people in your life that will unconditionally love you, and losing them is painful. I don’t have anything that memorializes her in a way that I personally feel satisfied with, I’ve ruminated on the idea of changing my last name to her maiden last name.
The most recent loss I’ve experienced is my good friend Vlad. Vlad and I met through a mutual friend, and eventually started playing games together. I think the first game we played together a lot was Destiny 2, he was a Titan main. We put so much time into Year 1 even though it was honestly a pretty dry period for the game. Vlad is the reason why I love MMOs. It started with our group playing through a WoTLK-era WOW server. He had an incredible amount of knowledge when it came to the game and was our tour guide since the majority of us had never played before. He led us through the best quest lines and the coolest areas. He would help each of us individually if we had any literally any issue, he taught me how to play Shadow Priest when I felt like I needed something aside from a healer. We then started playing the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV which has an expanded free trial which y-,… you get it. Any time I needed help queue skipping or just wanted company to join me in dungeons he would be a ping away. Outside of games he was exactly the same, constantly checking on me when my mental health declined and less and less people would hear from me. He would be so excited to tell me about games he played. Before he passed I had came up with a really fun idea of our friend group getting together and hanging out and some of us playing Rock Band online together, because he loved to sing I knew he would jump at the chance to do vocals. Unfortunately that never came to be. I’m working on him in TF2 too by renaming one of my items after him, a fuck off giant axe because that’s something that’s very much him.
Using TF2 to make memorials of people has been a constant all my life, it being a game that has always had a cool level of customization, and I love being able to express myself. A game where you can paint, give a custom name/description, and way way more to many items feels like a no brainer to use to dedicate to people you care about. It’s also a game that has been a constant in my life for over a decade — I’ve been playing since 2009! I love being able to have something that shows the importance of people in my life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my mom and loved ones. I’m a sentimental person, I attach memories to things. Even if they’re just pixels in a video game, those things are my little way to honor someone who meant a lot to me.