So I fully believed Josh was dead. Maybe in the World That Was I would have held out a little more hope, seeing as how it was only three days between the automated post and Josh letting us know what was up. But this isn’t the World That Was. This is the World in Which You Get Eaten or Shot or Both and Then Get Up Again. It was driving me crazy that I didn’t have any information. The truth is I haven’t been in Haven. Josh had mentioned that there were noncombatants who were evacuated to an undisclosed location. I’ve been with them. There were a number of reasons for this, none of which, thankfully, were due to my previous living address. I’ve mentioned before that I am a miserable shot with firearms and just as bad, if not worse at the bow and arrow. So unless the UAS soldiers were kind enough to lay down their guns and let me run up and go all peanut butter jelly with my baseball bat, I was kind of useless. Plus, the Powers That Be thought it might be a good idea to have me with the noncombatants. Stress is high and it seemed like a good idea to have a therapist on sight to help talk people down and keep things calm. Particularly if that therapist, as previously mentioned, sucks at shooting. And it was a good choice. When news of Josh’s untimely death came through, people went nuts. A good number wanted to rush out and tear the UAS apart with their bare hands. And these were noncombatants, remember. Another good portion of the group sank into a depression and was just waiting for the end to come, convinced that Haven was burning and Josh’s broken body was on a UAS pike somewhere. My work was cut out for me.
Due to all that work and the time I’ve been spending on a pet project cataloging how the symptoms of mental disorders have been affected by The Fall, I didn’t get a chance to complete and post the eulogy that I was working on. And that’s good because I would have felt pretty stupid if I’d posted that tribute, more maudlin than a Hawkeye-centric episode of M*A*S*H*, about the good Josh had done for us, only to have Josh reply to it in the comments. And be all sarcastic about it. Because you know he’d get a special Tom Sawyer-type joy out of doing that, even if he’s still being held together by stitches and gauze.
But the truth is that a lot of what I had to say is still applicable because Josh is leaving. So I’m going to post most of the eulogy anyway. I’ll just do a quick edit to remove all the references to untimely death.
Even though he’s not dead, Josh leaving is still a loss. He was the face of this community. And we all owe him a lot. Many of us would be dead right now if it weren’t for Josh. Patrick, for one, might have died in the early days of The Fall if Josh hadn’t been there to warn him. It was Josh who helped liberate some of our citizens from torture and death at the hands of marauders. It was Josh who sat here documenting the new mutations of the zombie population. How many of us would have gotten blindsided by the smarties when they first appeared, not realizing that there were zombies who could plan and take us by surprise? Josh was the one who trusted Will Price when everyone hated his guts and was all for treating him like a leper. You think that Will would be the head of the council if it weren’t for Josh? And personally, I know I’d be dead. I would have tried to escape the UAS once their motives became clear and would have done so without the transportation arranged by the Haven council, informed by Josh, who realized that I and some others wanted to defect. You think I would have survived? Sure I got to UAS territory, but it’s nothing short of a minor miracle that I got there without dying. Actually, my entire survival has been a lot of dumb luck. But without Josh arranging my escape, I’d have been walking as the UAS soldiers swarmed forward, ready for war. Yeah, they’d have loved the lone defector wandering in the wilderness. Of course none of that matters because without Josh, there would have been no Haven to begin with. He was the one who fortified his neighborhood in the first place.
Josh, quite literally, created this world we live in. And now he’s leaving. He may come back and visit, he may keep posting when time and conditions permit, but for all intents and purposes, he will be gone from our daily lives. His legacy will remain, however. It stares us in the face the moment we wake up in the morning. Everything around us, we owe to Josh. Yes, there were others who have built their homes and made Haven the community it is today, never doubt that I don’t recognize that. But we’re making our lives in the midst of the legacy of another man. And the really interesting thing is that he never fully realized that. The guy saved more people than I can count, and even now he’ll act like it was nothing but a thing and talk about how he’s haunted by the extreme things he’s had to do to survive.
Josh’s leaving will be hard on all of us. He may not be dead and gone, but he will be just straight up gone. It’s still a loss. And I know I’ve lost a lot of people since The Fall began. People that I cared deeply for. I lay awake at night sometimes, just thinking about what my life would have been if the dead had never risen. Would I still be in Pittsburgh? Would I be married? Would I have kids by now? There are days I can’t even remember what it was like to wake up, go to work, and do my therapy thing. What it was like to sleep or cook myself a clam pizza. Dear god, I haven’t even seen a clam in over three years, canned or fresh.
I know I’ve said a lot about Josh here, but the best thing I can say is that when I talked to Josh, when I got to share burgers with him and Big K, when I got to read about how his heart bled for the misled, frightened people of the UAS or talked about the shame he felt at having to kill sociopathic marauders, when I heard all that, suddenly I could remember what it was like before The Fall. I can remember those lazy days when I sat around the house and watched Food Network. When there was law and decorum and order. When you talk to Josh, life seems brighter. And that’s what we’re going to be missing once he leaves. And while I’m happier than words can convey that The Voice of Haven isn’t dead, it’s still a tragedy that he’s leaving. But it’s his choice and he’s got his reasons. And I know we’ll all miss him.