I'm sitting here reading these posts, and I find myself crying again.
Like many others, I'm not sure exactly when I met Will, but I know it was when I was still living in Greenville, SC, well before I ever moved to Atlanta. I remember hanging out with him many times at Subaru events and autocross weekends in Asheville, Charlotte, and elsewhere. He couldn't have been more than about 18 or so at the time, if I haven't screwed up my math too terribly.
Will was one of the most genuine and generous people I've ever known. I don't think he ever fully realized the value of his friendship, his time, and his impact on other people, but he was an amazing person to be around.
It's hard to articulate what I'm feeling right now, but my relationship with Will was something like having a brilliant younger brother, who occasionally drove me insane. I have great memories of him, from the early days when his hair was in full wacky 'fro mode, to the time I knew him best in his early 20s when he really grew into himself.
I remember when he lived with Matt and me in Atlanta, we used to sit up at night having retarded arguments about technical stuff, he used to drive me crazy sometimes but we had a huge amount of mutual respect and love. For me, he was particularly fun to be around when he was aggravated or frustrated with some automotive issue, because I loved brainstorming with him. And also, rather wickedly, I loved playing the straight-faced devil's advocate to every random topic that would come up, whether automotive or sci-fi or cultural or political. I know it made him nuts at times, but through every heated discussion we both usually had smiles on our faces, because it was one of the ways that we connected best.
I loved collaborating with him, when he worked for us at TopSpeed we would often noodle through technical challenges together, with each of us making stream-of-consciousness suggestions until we figured out the best way forward. It was one of the best working relationships I've ever had, even when we were occasionally frustrated with one another for whatever reason. It was at some point during his time working there that I think he really transformed from a "professional tinkerer" into a serious mechanic. He learned to slow down, and respect the process, and execute things cleanly. Never slow in action, of course! He was always a blur of activity, but his process became much more deliberate and I think it became a sort of meditation for him. His love of the speedwrench was part of that immersion, and I loved to see him in action with it.
Will's passing has really floored me. I just want to punch him on the arm and shake the **** out of him and try to get it through his stubborn head that he was loved. I did it more than once when he was living with us. And now I won't ever have that chance again, and it just kills me.
I'm basically a poster child for those of us that knew him and cared for him, but didn't make the effort to stay in touch the way we should have. I have thought about Will often, and fondly, and wondered how he was doing with his family and his new phase of life in Florida, but I didn't do what I should have to let him know that. I think a lot of us are suddenly realizing that of each other... I had a long talk with Kent on the phone on Wednesday and I think there are a number of us that will reconnect through this. If Will's death did anything positive at all, maybe it will serve to save and renew great friendships that otherwise may have faded away forever.
To give everyone a heads up, Matt and I have been talking about putting together a large event again at the Dragon, in the form of a Will Maham Memorial. It's my hope that we may be able to get many of us that knew him well back together again for one big bash to celebrate his life and his friendship. The intent will be to raise money (hopefully a lot of it) to put in trust for little Charlotte's college education. I want her to know, in some small way, how much her dad meant to all of us. I'd love any thoughts and input on that, if anyone would like to help.
My best to all of you, and to Will's family, and to all who knew and loved him. He will be deeply and sorely missed.