I did not know Maj. Andrew Olmsted.
I had never read a single word he had written until today.
Here's how I met him, in the first sentence of his final blog post: "This is an entry I would have preferred not to have published, but there are limits to what we can control in life, and apparently I have passed one of those limits."
He died in Iraq Jan. 3.
I love to read. I've been a full-time journalist for eight years and have spent almost a third of my life working at newspapers. Point? I've read an awful damn lot of posthumous profiles, obituaries, reflections and tribute stories.
Maj. Olmsted's post - I don't feel comfortable referring to him as "Andrew." It somehow seems rude, given that 24 hours ago, I had no idea he existed - is none of those, really, but it has hit me like few of those pieces of writing have.
He was 37 years old.
I turned 37 just before Thanksgiving.
The guy was my age. However our lives differed, we grew up in the same bigger picture. (Case in point: When I was six years old and seeing Star Wars for the first time, somewhere out there was a kid my age named Andy Olmsted, and guess what he was doing?)
And he was a good writer, too. Oh, he covered the deep stuff, the political and the war-related, obviously, but in his final post, he references Babylon 5 and Seinfeld and Greg the Bunny and The Princess Bride and requests that in lieu of mourning people "put on a little 80s music (preferably vintage 1980-1984), grab a Coke and have a drink with me."
It was a bizarre January day here in Northeast Ohio, almost 70 degrees, windy and rainy as the sky darkened during my evening commute. I listened to Nena's 99 Luftballons, some Michael Stanley Band, a little Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and some Psychedelic Furs, and thought about a guy I never met.