With our ability to record language, sounds, and visuals, we can, without even thinking about it, see, read, or hear someone who is no longer alive. Their words and appearance give no sign that they’ve shuffled off this mortal coil. Given how used to books and recordings we are today, this doesn’t even really faze us any more.
I say this because I read something today that affected me a great deal. Blogger Andrew Olmsted went to war in Iraq last year. He was killed last week. Fully aware of this possibility, he wrote a final entry, and made arrangements with a friend to have it posted should he not return. You can read it from the Internet Archive Wayback Machine as his site is sadly gone. It’s one thing to see Fred Astaire fly across the dance floor with Ginger Rogers. It’s entirely another thing to read a dead man’s final goodbyes and musings about death, written just before he put himself in a situation from which he was fully aware he might not return.