I wasn't really that close to Robby, truthfully, but that doesn't mean that he didn't impact my life. Robby was one of those people that was always around in the background - talking, offering wry humor, quietly encouraging others to pursue the same hobbies as himself. He was kind, quiet, and present, in a way that was entirely unlike omnipresence but was clear with a moment's reflection.
I met Robby through Belle, a friend of yore that I still can't quite believe is gone. She and Robby had worked together at Wolfram Research, and were (as far as I could tell) fast friends; certainly, he was a fixture at her parties, right up until the end. After that, I mostly saw him at Beer Tuesday, our weekly gathering at The Office (and later Crane Alley), where we would talk about cameras and politics and whatever else came to mind. He would come to my parties every now and then, and we'd run into each other around town; all told, our paths probably crossed every 2-3 weeks while I lived in Champaign, and I'd least glimpse him every time I later visited C-U later. And on top of that, we'd talk back and forth on Facebook every now and then...
...so, yeah, we weren't close. But we knew and respected each other, acknowledging each other as fellow travelers on our path through life.
But he never told me he was in pain.
I first heard that somebody had died through my friend Wendy's Facebook status, posted on Monday. I then found out how that person had died when she posted a link to the News-Gazette article later that day. But it took until Wednesday night to finally find out who had died, and to tie that into Robby's final status message:
Repeat to self "I am like the arrow that springs from the bow. No hestitation. No doubt. The path is clear." until unaware
I still don't really know what to think. I started out split three ways - 30% sad, 50% confused, 10% angry. Those numbers have evened out over the last couple of days; it turns out that getting to read the note (it's on the memorial site) makes a difference. I still can't quite comprehend his choice, but frankly, it was his choice, and I can respect that. But...
I wish I could have helped. I wish I knew how I could help others from getting into that situation, too. And I wish that there was something more to say than that.
Robby was a good man. I will miss him. And I hope that he was right, that he is better off now than he would have been.
May your afterlife offer all of the sights and lenses that you may need, my friend. Goodbye.