Wednesday, 12. March 2008 21:26:16, by Halari


Ronan was an Immortal on Avatar from its beginning. In Avatar terms, he came at the beginning of time and left before his time was due. He died, at the age of 21, on September 3, 1999.

Tim, the man behind the Avatar Elder Immortal Ronan, was born with neurofibromatosis, widely known as "the elephant man's" disease.

He fought his condition, in all of its various incarnations, with courage and grace. He was able to attend school until junior high, when it became necessary for him to be hospitalized more and more often. After he had been home-bound for several years, even his most steadfast friends visited less often and he turned to the internet for social contact. He found good friends and a special niche at Avatar, becoming a respected coder and an integral part of the Immortal staff.

Despite thousands of tumors, literally too many to count or remove, that attacked his hearing, sight, vocal cords, and internal organs, Tim worked for Avatar, coding, and interacting with players. As the disease progressed his vision clouded, tumors attacked his vocal cords, his hearing, and his ability to sit comfortably. He had blinding headaches, and still he sat at his screen, laboriously typing with one finger, reading the largest type he could find, keeping his connection to Avatar alive.

In the spring of 1998, when he was 18, he was scheduled for another "routine" surgery for three particularly invasive and troublesome tumors. He was more apprehensive about this surgery than any I can remember. He made a point of talking to all of his friends before the surgical date, and left for the hospital with serious reservations. He was right; he never logged on to Avatar again.

Complications from the surgery led to a difficult convalescence: pneumonia, a coma from which he ultimately did wake, lengthy hospitalization, and a permanent need for nursing-home care.

Avatar rallied to communicate with him while he was in the convalescent home, sending cards, books, joke toys, and gifts. Tim knew his Avatar family continued to care about him, and our letters, cards, and presents meant a lot to him. His brother, his mother, and his aunt kept us informed about his condition until nearly a year after that fateful surgery. At that time he was stable, but deaf, nearly blind, on a feeding tube, and unable to sit up or even move without help. Because of vocal cord damage he could not speak, but had enough movement to spell words out, letter by letter on the palm of a hand.

His condition deteriorated, and we lost contact with his parents, as they literally spent all of their free time at his bedside. He died, at 21, near his home in Los Angeles, California, on September 3, 1999.

We watched Tim grow into a mature young man. He helped build the Avatar we inhabit, and we have missed his presence. Free of the restrictions of failing body, he will live on in our memories and in our hearts.