Many of you likely remember Spleen. While perhaps not the most prolific member of the GWJ Community, he was an active contributor during the days of BF1942 and Battlefield Vietnam, and then later was a very active member of the GWJ Horde in World of Warcraft.
Many of you may also recall that Spleen shared with GWJ some time ago that he had been fighting cancer for many years, but was still pushing ahead and maintaining a positive frame of mind.
I have known Dean (a.k.a Spleen, or Spleeno to his friends) for many years, first making friends with his younger brother Chris. When Chris moved to Vancouver, Dean and I began to socialize more and I found a friend with great wit, warmth and kindness. Dean was one of my best friends, and while we lived in the same city we rarely saw each other face to face due to distance in the city and busy lives. We predominantly hung out online, games being our social exercise.
Dean was diagnosed with cancer as he turned 30 and has been fighting it for six or seven years. There were many close calls but each time he fought back and it looked like he defeated the cancer. But months later, each time, it would return and punished his body further and further, leaving him in a great deal of discomfort and pain.
As he suffered further we saw each other less frequently. The LAN parties weren't as frequent, and Dean's gigs with his band faded. Some of you may know that Dean was a true musician, a great guitar player and a fantastic singer. My wife and I would go to see Dean and his band play at local bars whenever we could.
My main contact with Dean in the last few years was Instant Messaging, E-Mail and Skype. Unfortunately as life is prone to do, I got busy and found myself playing far fewer games and was only able to exchange notes with Dean every few weeks. He began to find it too difficult to sit and play games at the computer, finding his mobility and comfort limited. Through it all though, each time we touched base it was like we spoke yesterday and we would swap stories of the families, games and common interests.
I would always feel guilty that we hadn't connected more frequently, but Dean would brush it aside as if it was no big deall and focused on the conversation we would have at the time. As time went on, however, Dean was less frequent in his contact/responses to my notes which always concerned me.
I last saw Dean just over a week ago before my family and I headed to Mexico for a winter vacation. A close friend and I dropped by Dean's house to visit, bring the Nintendo Wii for him to see and Guitar Hero for Dean to jam with. Dean was weak and had lost a dramatic amount of weight. He was no longer able to eat and had a hard time playing games. He fell asleep briefly while we were there and was very apologetic, but my friend and I didn't mind -- we were there to hang out and keep Dean company, to cheer him up.
I bought Dean a laptop so he could stay in contact while staying in bed. Before I left for Mexico he sent me an email and then called me later that evening. He was enjoying the wireless Internet access and remarked that it felt much better to be in contact and able to surf the Web and visit GWJ. We planned on getting together on my return from Mexico, where I would bring over my Xbox 360 for him to see Gears of War and to play some Guild Wars together on his laptop and my own. We had a good chat before we let each other go, and in typical Dean fashion he was apologetic and making good spirited jokes about having fallen asleep during our last visit. I promised to connect with him as soon as I returned from Mexico so we could get together. I returned home Friday night and tried contacting him this weekend but wasn't successful, and planned on trying again this morning.
It brings me more sadness than most of you know to share news that Dean passed away early this morning, January 22nd. Dean is survived by his wife Sarah and his two young kids, Miles and Adam. He leaves behind him a loving family that exhibited great strength during his long and unfair battle with cancer. He also leaves behind many caring and loving friends who feel richer and better having known him.
I will miss Dean, my gaming buddy and good friend.
Cheers and Happy Trails Spleeno.