I am sometimes amazed how the years have a tendency to pass by quicker with each passing year. Today marks the sixth anniversary of Gary’s passing. I am willing to wager that some of my (few) viewers will have no idea who I am talking about; the intent of this blog was not to delve into my personal life but I felt a need to pay tribute to the best friend I had never met. The Internet was a very different place back in 1999. Having a personal webpage on Geocities (regardless of whether your content was original or not) was the epitome of cool. Back then I was obsessive about Mega Man and stumbled across his webpage, “Ice Man’s Ice Palace”, and was impressed enough to contact him on AOL Instant Messenger. The rest, as they say, was history.
I was a completely different person back then. A teenager with anger issues and a chip on my shoulder that belied an inferiority complex and deep insecurities; I assumed the identity from of Magma Dragoon of Mega Man X4 to sublimate that anger into fantasies that involved brutalizing villains and devastating cities. Gary was more a trickster in the vein of Coyote and Raven that went against his own insecurities. His life was not an entirely happy one; his body began to fail him about eighteen months after we first met when his kidneys failed due to a hereditary disease on his mother’s side. That necessitated dialysis, which meant he had to work in the trenches of the service industry to pay the bills, an especially grueling task when taking his health into account. Gary’s lungs began to deteriorate a couple years later, and then his heart, and his relationship with his parents were strained at best. Luck did not smile upon Gary Martin.
Despite all of his misfortunes, Gary always went out of his way to make me smile with his silly pranks and jokes. He also was a source of encouragement and told me to keep writing. He wrote in a card he sent to me years ago, “Always believe in yourself, you’re destined for great things, so keep up the hard work. You’re a great friend that everyone needs to have.” I still have that card and I keep it close to me when I grapple with my own demons. Gary, whether he knew it or not, helped me through a tumultuous time in my life and was one of the few people that could make me smile. If there ever anything that could convince me to believe in fate, it would be Gary. Somehow I believe our shared insecurities made gravitate towards each other and in that friendship I found a kindred spirit.
My life is poorer without Gary and I do not believe I will completely recover from losing him. Time may heal all wounds but it always leaves a scar. While I may slowly come to accept that Gary is no longer a part of my life, I know there will always be a piece missing. Perhaps it is serendipity that the music of James Blunt best describes my feelings towards a friendship and a life that providence cut short. “1973” will always remind me of the nights we spent embarking on crazy adventures through instant messenger. My mind will always glance back on those times, in spite of time marching on. And “Stay The Night” will always remind me of the happiness our friendship brought me.
You may be gone, Gary Eugene Martin, but you will never be forgotten.