Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Day My Friend Became a Hashtag

I had just received notice that I had been chosen as a "Vaughan Garrett Favorite Find of the Month" for my confederate tongue buckle. I only vaguely remember writing the article, retelling the story of how I had found this rare piece of history.
One of my best friends, Kirk Keller, was with me that day and told me how happy he was to witness its recovery.  For a historian and relic hunter, this is the stuff of dreams.

"I actually found something with CS on it!" I shouted with utter excitement.

Kirk teased in response, "I've NEVER found something with CS on it you little stinker!"

A veteran detectorist, Kirk was the kind of guy that found joy in the achievements of others.  He celebrated along with me that day, as a mentor and a friend--his excitement matching my own.  And certainly a part of him will forever be attached to the buckle he once held in his hands.

When I wrote the article, Kirk had taken ill. I had received word that he had been transported by life-flight to the hospital.  I numbly wrote, in some odd attempt at positive vibes and feeling close to him as I tried to recapture the moment. Kirk had been retelling important facts about the land we were detecting--I always soaked in any knowledge he wished to impart--eager to learn and assist in his work with the historical society.  Our little team was in the process of piecing together civil war troop moments through the area and we spent long hours pouring over history and research.

"You are a natural at relic ID. You have a true passion for history and a heart for adventure." he would say, as if trying to convince me.

In the coming days Kirk passed away and was put to rest.  I had all but forgotten about submitting the article--too wrapped up in grief over the loss of my friend.  As I tried to focus on daily life, just as he would have demanded, I thought of him constantly.

The weeks rolled on.  I still missed him dearly but my sadness was now miraculously coupled with a smile; just as he promised would happen when discussing the loss of our friend Steve.

I take great comfort in little reminders of Kirk, so the announcement that my buckle had won felt like a much needed visit with my dear friend.  Reading over my words again, recalling the day, was bitter sweet, and I couldn't help but tag him as I posted the article to my Facebook page.

He would have been so exited over the win, taking the opportunity to "brag on me" in embarrassing enthusiasm.  I know it seems silly, tagging him, knowing he is far beyond the realm of social media, but I felt somehow spurned by his continued pride in me. So I "shared" it with him as I would have done in the past--my feeble attempt at connecting. I found myself looking over his Facebook page which continues to be filled with memories, anecdotes and messages expressing grief as well as happiness at the fortune of knowing this boisterous, fun-loving man.

Suddenly, I felt a stabbing in my chest over the thought that "Kirk the person" was gone and was somehow reduced to nothing more than a hashtag.  #kirkstrong I saw repeated over and over.  It was clear he left an indelible mark on the community with all of the lives he touched.  But I felt overly protective of his memory, as if somehow it was mine alone; arrogant, I know!

My fear was that Kirk and his life were being trivialized in some way

These misplaced feelings quickly turned to joy however, as I realized with each post, that every person commenting was doing so out of this same place of love.

As I pictured Kirk's reaction to his name in a hashtag I instantly began to laugh.  Who was I kidding? He would be "tickled" and certainly humbled, as was his way.

When you think of the impact Kirk had on everyone who knew him, the overwhelming tribute and the many ways he is being honored, it doesn't seem so silly after all!

It is plainly obvious that Kirk Keller is well-loved and highly respected as those of us struggle to adjust to this tremendous loss.  And while Kirk continues to live on through his hard work and good deeds, his legacy also carries on in these shared memories, stories, and yes... even though hashtags.


xoxo Siren Kimmie (HDIC Girls Rock Metal Detecting)
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