It was one of those things that is so unexpected, it's hard to conceive it possibly being true. That's how I felt on Friday when I saw a post in facebook indicating Terrence Wing had died. After all, Terrence was only 42, and seemingly in very good health. In fact he was tweeting and making facebook updates as he always does, mere hours before a heart attack took him from us much too soon.
I did not know Terrence as well as others, having only connected with him online in the past few years, and meeting with him at a few conferences. I would have liked to have gotten to know him better, because I found his passion and energy for the work that he did contagious.
One of the things I most respected about Terrence was the curiosity he put into his work. While many people would talk about the potential of one tool or the possibilities of another, Terrence just went out and tried it. He was always experimenting with using social media and tools in the field of learning. While he was looking to do something new and valuable, he wasn't afraid of failure. He played with tools publicly, sharing what he was learning for all to see, inviting the world to join him. I always admired that.
Terrence was always sharing what he learned, and it seemed to me that this was just a natural extension of a genuine love of connecting with people. I recently attended the DevLearn Conference, and had the pleasure of spending some time with Terrence. What struck me most about him wasn't our talks, but the way most of them started.
It seemed that every time I would find myself walking through the conference halls, there was Terrence chatting with someone new. This would usually be followed by a smile and a wave as he said "Dave, come here. I want to introduce you to someone...". That's another thing I admired about Terrence; he had one of the best smiles I've ever seen, and it always seemed to be present.
Terrence may no longer be with us, but he will definitely live on in the lessons he shared and the people he connected with. Everyone that was touched by Terrence should honor his memory by transferring some of that passion and energy into their own life. I know that's what I am going to try to do.
From a certain perspective, I feel somewhat cheated by Terrence's passing. We had only known each other about three years, and I would have enjoyed getting to know him even better. Those who were closest to him likely feel similarly cheated, having such a warm presence abruptly stripped from their life.
I encourage anyone who has been touched by Terrence to visit his facebook page, and post a comment to his wall about Terrence and how he impacted you. A number of people have already done this and I saw a comment from Terrence's wife mentioning how much she appreciated reading the stories.
As painful as the loss is, I also encourage those touched by Terrence to resist the urge to hang your head in sorrow at having your time with Terrence cut short. Instead, hold your head up high and smile as he always seemed to, and celebrate the gift it was to have him in your life.
Other posts from those remembering Terrence:
Remembering Terrence Wing by Paul Signorelli
When one loses a friend... Terrence Wing by Rick Zanotti