The next day, in order to keep calls to the family at a minimum, a member of the chat list was designated to act as go-between. I checked in every hour to see how Gary was doing.
There were constant updates. First:
The surgery is taking longer than expected, but that's not necessarily a bad sign.
I have just spoken with the nurse's station, and Gary has been returned to surgery. I am hoping things are going well, but this may be the time to start praying.
It got worse.
Gary is in very, very critical condition. Please stop what you are doing for just a moment and pray however and to whomever you do it.
By 4, it seemed a corner had been turned.
Gary is out of surgery. His heart is being supported by a left ventricular assist device. He is much improved. He is currently in intensive care and will be in the recovery room soon.
But at 5:
I just spoke with Lois. Gary has been taken back into surgery for the third time. She does not know for what. We all continue to hope and pray.
A couple of minutes later:
I just spoke to Gary's brother Michael, and Gary's condition has taken an unforeseen turn toward critical.
After that, a maddening silence. I found things to straighten up around my desk, staying late and doing busy work in between logging on to check for news. Finally, just after 7:
Gary Holleman left us half an hour ago. We all loved him.
Messages flew back and forth as the news spread. It seemed everyone had been doing just what I had been doing--staying close to the computer to check in. The next day--Oct. 22, 1997--was declared a day of silence in Gary's honor. We took up a collection for his children and--this being cyberspace, again--someone added a tribute section to his home page where anyone who wanted could write a note about Gary. (If you want to visit, it's still up: http://www.churchstreet.com/co/gary.htm)
Just like anyplace else, we grieved for a friend we'd lost and knew that our little community had been changed forever.