Last Night Google Told Me That My Friend Had Died.

Last night I sat in front of my computer screen and cried like a child. So ended weeks of concern about the silence of an online friend who has kept me company for a long while via my blog and his blog, "Hopscotch" but more so through our e-mail correspondence.

I knew nothing more about Louis Sellier apart from the facts that he was a fellow Trinidadian living in Seattle, Washington. He was from the same generation as my parents and had a similar background. Even though he no longer lived in T&T, he still cared enough to follow the news and to voice his concerns via his many letters which were published by the newspapers back home. He was a husband, a father, a retired person whose mind was more alert and curious than most, a gentle soul who found me through my blog and for some reason stayed close.

He never once asked me who I was. Unlike the people of the "flesh" and "show" who demand among other things that modest Muslim women remove their niqabs or that anonymous writers reveal their identities, Louis was secure and wise enough to be more interested in reading the more telling signals that identify the spirits of the persons with whom he interacted. I listened to his spirit as carefully as he did to mine and we were easy and contented with what our intuitions revealed.

In our e-mail correspondence, Louis and I discussed life, nature, politics, his travels, Trinidad and Tobago and finally in January this year he honoured me by sending me an e-mail to share with me the sad news of the death of his wife. Although we had never discussed his personal life, I felt his sadness as if Elena had been my life partner and I posted this memorial in response. It made me happy that he seemed to appreciate it very much. We continued to correspond but there was a very subtle difference in Louis. He had become quieter. I did not press him. I let him know that I understood that he would need time to come to terms with the death of his partner of forty-six years and the mother of his two children and I assured him that I was here for him whenever he needed to discuss anything that was on his mind.

On March 7 he wrote his last letter to me and he mentioned that his wanderlust was returning but that it was tempered by the awareness that it would not be as much fun to travel without the good companionship that his wife had provided in the past. I replied to that letter and suggested that he should maybe find a group with which he could travel. He never responded...I waited and told myself that I should not press him for a reply. Then I began to worry. It was not like him to remain silent. Weeks after, I again wrote him a gentle message, really worried about him but also just as worried about being too intrusive:

This was my last letter:

From: Guanaguanare the laughing gull
Date: Tue, Apr 12, 2011 at 5:47 PM
Subject: Just checking...
To: lmsell@******.net

I know that you must be very focused on making transitions and I don't want to intrude but sometimes I really, really stop what I am doing to just wonder about you. I'm just writing to let you know that I think about you and hope that you are well. I hope that you are on a trip around the world or soaking up the sun on a beautiful beach in Moorea or working on a gorgeous bonsai garden but don't you dare fall ill or leave this world without telling me !!! Wishing you life and peace and renewal with the Spring.
Hugs and blessings,

Unknown to me, my dear friend had already left this world.

Last night, desperate for any news, it occurred to me to search for him with Google. I entered his name within quotes and found among the results, on another Trinidadian's blog, "Sweetlime" the shocking news that he had died on March 16 "as a result of a tragic accident suffered during a trip to visit friends in Arizona."

Without ceremony, Google told me that my friend had died. In shock, I rushed automatically to communicate this news to another blogger and good friend of Louis in Malaysia who had been sharing his concerns with me about Louis' silence and then I wrote a message to his daughter who had supplied her e-mail with the news about her father's death.

Later I returned to the location where I had first seen the news. I stared at the screen, reading the words over and over, finding that I was comprehending less and less with each reading until just the immensity of the loss was all that registered and I began to weep with a sadness that was made much more bitter by the knowledge that it was a month ago that I should have cried. How could he have left without my knowing?

I never met Louis in person to hug him or see his smile. I just knew that he was a good person and he treasured kindness more than gold. It was enough that we were kind to each other, that we listened to each other. It was more than some people who work together in the same space share. It was more than some people who think that they know each other experience.

Thinking back on his quietness after the death of his wife, I am wondering if Louis was waiting, waiting patiently for Elena to send for him. I'm wondering if on March 16, only a couple of months after her death, he was not at all sad but extremely relieved to finally be freed to leave this world to join her.

Louis Sellier, my friend, thank you for your life and your trust and your friendship. I miss you and everything good and true that you represented.

Elena and Louis
No es un adiós, es un hasta luego...

16 April 2011 | 22:56
I am beginning to find the offerings that others have made in memory of the life of Louis Michael Sellier and I will continue to collect the links below as I find them:

Condolences. Catholic News | March 27, 2011.

Thanks to Louis and Skye. By Ric Hernandez | Sweetlime | March 29, 2011

A Final Letter to A Dear Friend. By Covert_Operations78 | Combat Loaded & Mission Ready! | Saturday April 16, 2011.

The Demise of Louis Michael Sellier of Seattle... By Pak Idrus | Pak Idrus's Post... | Sunday April 17, 2011.

Louis. By Pat | The English Cottage | Monday, April 18, 2011

You may also wish to visit this site to share memories of Louis with others.


~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Guanaguanare,
Many thanks for this heartfelt and moving obituary for Louis. Like you, I too wrote to Louis when his silence started to worry me. And like you, I cried like a child last night. I don't think Louis ever realised how many lives he touched. He was just happy to be himself and to be a friend, and happy that we are who we are. He didn't patronise. He didn't expect recognition or favours or gratitude. He was, and still is, one of the kindest, gentlest, humblest soul I have ever had the pleasure to have known.
Thank you for sharing my sorrow, my friend. I am glad to know I am no longer alone in my grief.

Pak Idrus said...

Guanaguanare, that was a great write up of Louis. I could not have put a better words for he is a very special person in our hearts.

He seem to love Malaysia and kept coming for visits after visits and he has seen more of the country than some Malaysia do. He told me that whenever they feel like they would fly to Malaysia and stayed for one to two weeks. He even thought of making Malaysia his second home but destiny has other choice for him.

We met first in cyber space and when I was living in Boston in the Summer of 2008 my youngest daughter, Asmah and I flew the whole length of the Continent to get to Seattle and there we met them. Elena and Louis came to the hotel and pick us up as though we were ald friends; to sightseeing Seattle and had lunch and took us to their beautiful home. He even ask us to stay with them. All the time we was there he would telephone me and ask whether I need transport to get around and since we had to meet other friends we just thanks him.

Like you said Elena and Louis touches our hearts like we were more than friends. The two were special, beautiful people full of love.

It all started in cyberspace, I told him once that since that we are a spiritual being perhaps we communicate in that plane too. To me they have only gone physically, spiritually they are still with us. Memories does not fades, it linger there and I believe forever. That my friend Guana is the reality of living, we sow loves and loves blooms giving us all happiness always. Take care.

Guanaguanare said...

Thank you Covert Operations'78 and Pak Idrus for sharing on your own blogs and for visiting and commenting here. I apologise for the delay in replying. I hope that you will understand. It really helps to have your company and to hear another voice say:

"I don't think Louis ever realised how many lives he touched. He was just happy to be himself and to be a friend, and happy that we are who we are. He didn't patronise. He didn't expect recognition or favours or gratitude. He was, and still is, one of the kindest, gentlest, humblest soul I have ever had the pleasure to have known."

That is exactly it, Covert.

And Idrus, thank you for sharing some of the details of your friendship and meeting. I never knew that Louis had a special love for Malaysia. Everything that you said about reality, about communication on the spiritual plane, about harvesting the love that you sow is very thought-provoking and comforting.

I feel Louis smiling through both of your comments. There are many lessons here from which I intend to benefit. Thank you so much.
Always blessings!

Pat said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful tribute to Louis.

I am another of his blogger and e-mail friends, and like you, I had to wonder at where he'd disappeared to, with a sinking heart. One month to the date, I would find out that my worst fears were realised: he had died.

I say a small farewell to him here.

Like you, I will dearly miss Louis.

Guanaguanare said...

Thanks Pat,
I think Louis would have appreciated all the tributes and also would have understood all the ways in which we are now attempting to work through our grief. This table of remembrance will invite and welcome both our laughter and our tears.

Maximilian C. Forte said...

Dear Guanaguanare,

I am terribly sorry to hear this news. I had only the briefest of passing interactions with Louis on this blog, I knew he was a regular presence here, and he struck me as very gentle and calm.

The loss is something that I can feel in your words. It reminded me a little of when our mutual friend, Roi Kwabena, passed on back in 2008. I didn't learn about it until a month or more later, just accidentally, searching online, and it struck me very hard.

This is very sad, especially for those who remain behind. I am happy that you and his friends have marked his presence by posting these wonderful tributes online, where hopefully they shall remain forever.

Very best wishes, and condolences, to you, Louis' many friends, and Louis' family of course.

God bless.

Guanaguanare said...

Thanks Max,
Louis' voice was you said, calm and gentle and thoughtful, although he was not above becoming very passionate at times, especially about what he perceived to be wrongs done to others or to societies. He always took the time to really think about whatever it was that he was adding his opinions to and I always welcomed his input.

I am very proud to read all the warm tributes to Louis. Like Roi, Louis proves that sincerity can extend a long and lasting embrace.

Unknown said...

Dear Guanaguanare,

I am moved to tears by your post; you have such a way with words. To know that Dad's gentle nature did not go unnoticed by others brings a touch of much needed warmth to my heart. Peace be with you,

Lise Sellier Fitzpatrick

P.S. We wish we could have brought news to you more quickly so as to spare you the angst of not hearing from him; unfortunately, we were unable to gain access to Dad's blogsite and email.

Guanaguanare said...

Your presence here means a lot to us all. These tributes are our earnest attempts to share with each other and anyone else who knew and loved your father, what he meant to us. There is nothing that could have prevented or postponed these expressions of warmest appreciation for his life and friendship.

Lise, there is no need to apologise for not being able to contact us. It was in fact your having shared the information on "Sweetlime" that led to our being informed eventually. Realising that our online interactions create another bunch of relatives, I expect that we will all be considering making arrangements for our online families to be notified of events in our lives which may remove us temporarily or permanently from interaction.

Louis is making me think long and hard about the power of touch - a word, a sound, a physical gesture, an online greeting, a vibration that does not end even when the sender is no more. We can and do change the world by what we choose to share with it.

When I think about your father, what I feel and hear is "Om."

Peace and blessings to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

I'm Louis' granddaughter, Morgen. I was just googling Granddad's name for a school project when I ran across your post. Thank you for your kind words for my Granddad. Hearing about him makes him feel much more present and makes me feel better in my heart. I don't remember hearing about you before, but I'm glad I found your blog and your words.


Guanaguanare said...

Dear Morgen,
I am very happy to hear from you. It makes me smile to think that someone so close to Louis' heart is communicating with me.

We all loved your grandfather and a part of me tonight would like to imagine that he is pleased that you found me. You are Louis' granddaughter and the kindness that is communicated in your message is so much like his graciousness. You are his continuation on this earth and in that sense he will always be a part of you. He is never far from my mind and I continue to talk to him.

Morgen, I wish you a wonderful year filled with joy and including all the successes that your grandfather would have wanted for you. All the best also to your family and thank you again for your kind and comforting message.