As I sat on the train heading to the airport last Friday I read a few of the brief notes that friends of Michael O'Connor Clarke were leaving on Twitter. Michael had been quiet on Twitter for a good few days and those last tweets that he had left were markedly more touching, particularly those to his father. As the English countryside scrolled past the train window I could only read between the lines of messages that once carried hope and resolve but which were now darkened by a note of sorrowful resignation and I sensed that he might be slipping away from us.
And sure enough, Michael passed away last weekend from the cancer he had only been diagnosed with three months earlier.
On a number of occasions in the last couple of months I've been moved and, frankly, challenged by the profound public intimacy Michael was happy to practice with his closest family and friends on Twitter. I often found the exchanges uncomfortable reading not just because of the moving nature of the messages, but reading them sometimes made me feel like I was secretly listening in on a private telephone conversation.
I can well imagine that someone going through what Michael was going through might have easily chosen to clam up and maintained what we might instinctively think of as a dignified silence.
Fortunately for us, dignity meant something else to Michael O'Connor Clarke.
For Michael - dignity was living his ordeal in public in order to remind us that in the end, the love of those around us is all we have.
Michael leaves behind Leona and their three children, and the world in a better state than when he found it. I'll miss him.