Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Losing Friends

Back in early 2005, I went to a website dedicated to providing people with pen pals. I registered, just out of curiosity. Not long afterward, a received an e-mail from a gentleman in London, asking to be my pen pal. For the next four years, we e-mailed each other every few weeks until last December.

He told me he was a teacher in a private school in London. He was slightly younger than I was, and although he had had a number of lady friends, some of whom he had actually lived with for a time, he had always managed to avoid marriage.

He said he came to the U.S. as a young man, and went to college here, so he was familiar with this country and very interested in our politics, among other things. He was a fan of Maya Angelou, and had met her in London one time.

We had some very interesting discussions on all sorts of topics, sometimes becoming very philosophical, and as time went on, we became comfortable enough to talk about some personal details about our lives. When he met and fell for a woman in Budapest, he told me all about her and her family, and his efforts to keep a distance, at first, because she was much younger. He spent a lot of time going back and forth, and they took a vacation or two together.

He was stunned when, one day, she announced that she was pregnant. She wanted him to marry her and take her to London to live, and he came under a lot of pressure from her parents, but still he resisted. He asked my advice a few times, about the situation. He even sent me a photo of her, and my first thought was to tell him to run, run fast, and don't look back. But, that wasn't what he wanted to hear, so I remained noncommittal about his situation. Finally, she did go to London to live with him. One day, he sent me a photo of his son, and said that he intended to be a part of the child's life and provide for him, although he still didn't want to get married.

Then, last fall, I realized that I hadn't heard from him for much longer than usual, so I sent an e-mail asking if he was all right, something we had both done when it seemed too long between e-mails. Finally, in December, he wrote that he had had a serious heart attack and had been in the hospital for several weeks. He was at home, although he was still very weak and had to get a lot of rest. I wrote back, expressing my concern and my hope that he would make a full recovery. I haven't heard from him since.

I can't help but believe that he must have died, but don't know how to confirm my suspicions. I'm pretty certain that his lady friend wasn't aware of our long-time correspondence. So, she wouldn't know to inform me, or even care to, for that matter.

What I do know is that, surprisingly, I miss him. Or, rather, his e-mails. Although we never met in person, I felt we were friends. It's possible, of course, that he just decided to stop corresponding, but I find it difficult to believe that after such a long time, he would simply stop writing without any explanation.

I would certainly like to know if he is alive and well. Any ideas about how I can find out if he passed away?

Stay tuned.


Linda said...

Have you checked into obituaries in his part of the country, if they do obituaries? I don't know what the public records policies are in England.

This sounds fascinating. I would enjoy such a relationship and I'm married! I love my husband and am not looking for another man but I do miss academic stimulation since I retired from working in a university. I'd love to know someone like him to have intellectual conversations through email. Good for you.

I do hope you find out about his well being.

Kay Dennison said...

I think Linda is right. It sounds as if you had a really lovely relationship. I hope you find out.

Tincanman said...

Hope this doesn't turn out like you fear. On the chance that he did pass, I have to agree with Linda's suggestion. If you know the town he was living in, it might be possible to find an online newpaper or other outlet for that city and see if it lists obits. Hoping for the best, Betty.

Janie B said...

How wonderful that you had this interesting relationship for so long. I wish you the best in finding out his status.

Nancy said...


My BIL had a long term real life relationship with a woman who his Mother (My MIL) did not like.

My MIL made all sorts of trouble for them for years and they never married.

Eventually, she gave up, moved to California,met a man there ,married him and had a daughter. My BIL stayed a bachelor all of his life.

Then, she wrote him that her husband had died and they started a correspondence that lasted for more than 10 years.

On Christmas Day 1992 my BIL died of a heart attack and when we went to his house to take care of his affairs there was a letter on his kitchen table. It was sealed and stamped and addressed to this woman. I wasn't certain what to do with it. Was he telling her not to contact him anymore? Was he saying something in the letter that would hurt her?

After thinking it over I wrote her a letter telling her of his death and I put the sealed letter from him in the same envelope with my note. Then I waited to see what would happen.

About a week later I received a letter from her thanking me over and over for sending her his note.She told me that in his letter he said all the things she had waited years for him to say. He told her he had always loved her and when he felt better he planned to come to California to see her.

I know this is different from your situation but your post reminded me of this long term relationship.

I think the advice given by Linda is the best. Perhaps you can write to the Obituary Editor of the local newspaper and ask for his help in knowing what happened to your friend.

Good Luck...Let us know..

Betty said...

Linda, Kay, Tincanman, Janie: Thanks for your advice. He lived in London, and I have gone to the London Times website, but can't access their archives. Maybe there's a way to e-mail the Obits editor. I'll try that.

Nancy: How sad that she only found out about his feelings after he was gone. But, I'm sure she was relieved.

Arkansas Patti said...

Very interesting relationship. Perhaps his girlfriend found out about you and made him stop.
I would continue on your present quest to be sure he hasn't passed.
How sad for you to be so left in the dark. Good luck.

Sister--Helen said...

oh sister Fleta is good at this dead people thing....I will sic her onto this....

Betty said...

Arkansas Patti: It is my hope that he has just gotten too busy to continue our correspondence. However, I believe he is too polite to let it go without explanation. It is possible, of course, that he has been bedridden since his initial heart attack, and, if he recovers sufficiently, he will let me know he's all right.

The 4th Sister: Oh, good. I'll bet Fleta can get to the bottom of this.

Judy said...

I understand how you feel. I had a pen pal relationship with a wonderful man in Australia. We talked on the phone a few times, but neither one of us could afford the long trip to visit. He was in the hospital for a while and he had his daughter send me a message so I wouldn't worry. Eventually I got married and he said that he was going to give up his computer for a while. I often wonder if he is still alive, but it is harder than you would think to check death records and Australia is a big country. I'm sure it can be done if you are determined. Good luck.

kenju said...

I sure hope you are able to find out what happened. It must be so frustrating not to know.

Betty said...

Judy: Hi, glad you dropped in. I hope I can find out about him. Maybe someone can give me some ideas.

kenju: It is a bit frustrating, but I may have to just let it go one of these days.

倫音 said...

thx u very much, i learn a lot

oklhdan said...

I have a good friend in London and if you don't find out anything I can ask Perry who you should contact.

Darlene said...

It is so maddening to wonder what happened to a lost friend. I think it's like having the last chapter in an exciting book missing.

Somehow, unfinished business never goes away. I hope you are able to find the end to your story.

Betty said...

oklhdan: Thank you. I'd appreciate it if you'd ask him.

darlene: Yes it is. At my age, I can't afford to have friends just disappearing.

Grannymar said...

I have a blog 'friend' who has gone silent. Many efforts have been made to make contact have failed. I often wonder how he is, but must find a balance between making contact and invading his privacy.

I hope it works out for you.

Grayquill said...

You are one interesting lady! I never know what I will get when I stop by for a visit with Betty. Today, I see a more vulnerable side. I hope you find out some good news about your friend. A loss is a loss is a loss.
I am sorry!
Nice post!

Looking to the Stars said...

Betty, I've been off my blog for a week. Oh, dear one I hope you find out about your friend, please keep us posted.

Betty said...

Grannymar: I know what you mean about balance. I have been very reluctant to e-mail my friend any more, in case he just doesn't want to communicate any more. So, I'll just wait and see what happens.

Grayquill: Thank you. I hope there is good news some day, too, but I do fear the worst.

Looking to the Stars: I'll certainly tell you all if I hear from him again, and find that he has recovered. Welcome back to your blog.

Barry Knister said...

I can't help wanting details about the photograph you were shown. What you saw immediately shaped your opinion. How and why? If you saw a person that made you suspicious, I have to wonder whether this younger Hungarian woman was in fact pregnant by your friend.

Betty said...

Barry and Barbara: I was struck by the fact that she was much, much younger than he was, at first. That, in itself didn't make me suspicious. It was the photo, and I can't really explain why, but she got my radar pinging.

Actually, he is the one who brought up the subject of DNA testing, as though he wondered, too. I would never have suggested the testing if he hadn't expressed some doubts first.

Deanna said...

Betty, I feel for you. I had a friend I chatted with forever. We had even talked on the phone a few times. He never would tell any of us in the chat room his real name. Apparently he had been stalked once by an internet friend. He often went on business trips and one day did not return. None of us in the chat room has ever heard from him again and have no way of ever finding out what happened. So sad.

I would keep emailing your friend, letting him know you are concerned. I think it is interestig how your radar started pinging when you saw the picture. Please let us know if you find anything out.

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First time at your page. I'm in office now, and reading between lines of your blog. My heart melt at this one. Wish you good luck in finding him... and it is true that it is not necessary to see a person to have a beautiful relationship...well if people say that friendship is when you get together and party friday nights , then this one has no name yet. I guess you feel wonderful to have been a part of it.

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