In the fall of 2010, Chris Guillebeau came through Columbia, SC on his nationwide book tour. The host for the event was Rick Stilwell at Jamestown Coffee in nearby Lexington. Rick and I chatted for awhile prior to Chris’s talk and I immediately felt a bond with him.
I began following him on Twitter @rickcaffeinated and later on Instagram. He was a great follower to have around because I think he “liked” almost every Instagram pic I posted and often retweeted or responded to some of my tweets. I, in turn, often retweeted or replied to his stuff – especially if it related to a Saturday afternoon Gamecock football game.
Knowing that Rick shared the same faith, I sent him a copy of The God Robbers a month or so ago to get his review on Amazon and to maybe get a recommendation from him to his followers. We swapped a few emails and he promised to give it a look.
Rick was one of those guys that liked to sit down and talk over a cup of coffee. I’d told myself that I would try to call him for one of those coffee house talks the next time I went to Columbia.
Well, it’s too late. I can’t do it now. Rick passed away last Friday. The report is that he apparently had a “medical event” that caused him to lose control of his car. He was 44.
Rick’s passing broke my heart. The funny thing is I only talked to him in person one time. For maybe the first time, it struck me that the power of social media has allowed us to have friends that we rarely or never meet.
I know. I know. People strike up online relationships all the time. I know about eHarmony.com, Match.com, and ChristianMingle. I’ve even performed weddings for couples that met online.
I met my wife over 30 years ago so I’ve never needed to strike up a serious relationship with anyone online. But I have developed a kinship with several bloggers and tweeters over the years. I didn’t realize how close you can get to someone online until Rick’s death. I truly lost a friend Friday.
I am only one of thousands who feel the same way. Many of his followers have added the hashtag #LiveLikeRick to memorialize him on Twitter. Rick was a great husband and father. I’m sure he was a stellar employee. He was obviously a good friend to many. It would be good for us to live like Rick.
He was also a man of faith and while I’m sure he would be honored to know that there is a hashtag in Twitterworld in his memory, I believe Rick would tell you not to live like him, but rather live like Jesus. That was Rick’s foundation. That was why Rick was such a wonderful guy. That is why Rick’s passing is so devastating to his followers. Rick made a difference in this world because he placed his life in the hands of the One who makes all the difference in the world.
I would ask you to pray for Rick’s wife and his two children. They must be crushed. They will need lots of love and friendship.
Rick’s quick departure is a grim reminder that life is short. We must take advantage of every day. We must give and receive all the love we can. We must pursue our God-given dreams and passions. We must cling to Him in the good times and the bad times.
Farewell, @rickcaffeinated. Keep the coffeepot going up there. I’ll eventually sit down with you and have a talk over a cup of java. I’m sure there will be a long line of followers like me waiting for our turn at your table.
You can read more about Rick here.