While I mourn Aaron, I'm not sure my post about his death is a form of grieving. Or maybe it is. Not sure. I just want it to be a service to people who knew him and cared about him and what he lived for. The private correspondence that accompanies the post is also important more important than I expected when I first put up the post. Lots of processing, together, much of it involving people who hardly know each other.
I wonder if what drives talented and promising young people like Aaron to suicide is a crisis of identity. Gene Kan considered himself a failure. I don't know aobut Ilya Zhitomirskiy, but I do know that Diaspora didn't live up to any optimist's expectations. I've been told that Aaron didn't want to be considered a felon, or a burden to others.
Self-definition is so huge for young people. And yet, it's not so important as it seems. I was fifty before I realized that I was none of the labels I carried, but simply my self. One result of that realization is that nearly everything I'm known for is stuff I've done since then. It's good to be liberated from the burden of expectations.
We'll never know exactly what drove Aaron to do what he did. He left no note. But I respect his family's claim that Aaron was hounded by a Javert-esque proscecutor who refused a plea bargain and wanted to make an example of Aaron by sending him to prison for a long time. This Wall Street Journal piece (alas behind a paywall) says pretty much the same thing.
I agree that the dead are dead. Their absoluteness of their absence is undeniable. We have no proof of life after death, and yet the dead remain present with us in many ways.
I remember one time, after my mother died, thinking of something I wanted to share with her. Immediately I sensed her presence, and heard her voice, telling me death is life's way of making sure we pass love along. "It's important that you can't give it to me," she said. "I gave my love to you. Now you pass some along to people who can use it."