In Memory of Sean Hartter: 1973 – 2013
The internet is an amazing thing. Not only are you able to access an almost limitless database of knowledge and factoids, listen to music, watch television and stay up to date on current events, but on certain occasions, you may also be privy to meeting someone whom you wouldn’t otherwise meet, and having that person touch your life in a dramatic and surprising way.
Sean Hartter was an artist. He was a musician, a friend, a husband, a father and he was more imaginative than 5 regular Joe Schmoe’s put together. He had a constant influx of ideas, and all he wanted to do was share them with the world, and to use his art to inspire other people to create their own. He was full of the kind of compassion and enthusiasm and warmhearted openness that most people only read about , and he displayed these incredible qualities with a grace that was unimaginable considering the circumstances.
Sean spent the last few years battling a rare form of cancer. He went through the treatments, the medications, the hospital visits and living with the open ended question of his survival, and he did it all with love in his heart, a smile on his face and a joke or two for his closest friends. Despite the odds stacked against his health, he didn’t let anything slow him down or stop him from doing what he did best — Inspiring other people worldwide with his creations.
During the early hours on the morning of April 27, 2013, Sean suffered from a horrible asthma attack, which resulted in his heart giving out. There is no sense to Sean’s passing, there was no warning or time to prepare for such a thing, if something like being prepared for the death of a loved one can ever be prepared for. Even just hours before it happened, he was sharing his plans for the future and his art on Facebook. His loss is the truest form of tragedy.
I had the pleasure of getting to know Sean, although very briefly, through my relationship with Nick. They met through DeviantArt and worked together on a couple of different things. Sean was a huge source of inspiration for Nick, and despite having never physically met, Nick would spend countless hours going through all of Sean’s older work and showing me different alternate universe movie posters that he had created, or listening to his Brothermaniac music project.
When Nick and I moved to Boston last year, one of the main things we were planning to do up there was spend time with Sean. We didn’t have many friends up north, and before we even moved away we were a little worried about the consequences that leaving Orlando would have on Nick’s art. Luckily, we found out that Sean lived pretty close to where we were staying, and we even planned on moving to Raynham, which was only a few minutes from the Hartter home. We envisioned weekend barbecues, bearing witness to Sean’s incredible talent and getting to know his family; he had a beautiful wife of 21 years, Allison, and two sons, Gabe and Griffin, whom he bragged about constantly.
Plans were put off on both ends — First because we weren’t completely situated, and then because Sean was dealing with some things of his own at home. Still, Nick and Sean chatted frequently about hanging out and Sean let us know that we were more than welcome to bunk up with his family if we were ever stranded without a place to go — That is the kind of guy Sean was. Despite only knowing us on the internet, and never having met us, he opened his door and offered a safe place for us to live during a really rough time in our lives. Just the simple act of offering such a thing is amazing, and is not something that most people would have been comfortable doing.
I try to live my life to the fullest, and I try to operate under the simple notion that everything that happens, happens for a reason. There are very, very few things I regret from my life and my past. The biggest thing I regret is that we did not make more of an effort to visit with Sean and his family before we moved away. Had we had a bit more time, had we not spent so much time working and trying to get on our feet, had we not been forced to leave so unexpectedly in the middle of the night to rush to a hospital in Rhode Island because both Nick and I were ill, we would have been able to solidify our friendship with Sean and get to know him on a different level than a lot of the people whose lives he’s had such a huge impact on.
So many people knew him, and so many people loved him. His loss is not just a loss that affects a small group of people, but one that is felt across the entire country by artists and musicians and regular people alike who happened to stumble upon his work. By friends, family, strangers and acquaintances. The world losing Sean has been a horrible tragedy, one that will be felt for a long time to come. Such a huge loss is not something that will heal easily; it’s something that will be endured and that we will carry around with us for the rest of our time spent here.
My last time speaking with Sean was about something silly — I told him he should draw a particular Pokemon, and he turned it into a perverted joke. Just thinking about that puts a smile on my face, and I’m sure that many people can relate. Sean was a charismatic genius, and he put his entire being into sharing his ideas and art with the masses. Those who knew him loved him and those who didn’t know him, wanted to. He was the kind of person that you could talk to about anything, and was always there to offer guidance or encouragement, every single time.
Regardless of your personal beliefs, please take a moment to honor a life lost that shouldn’t have been, and that will leave a Sean shaped hole in many of our hearts. Please send your prayers, well wishes and good thoughts to Sean’s family, whom Sean loved with all his heart and who need strength and compassion during this horrible time in their lives. If you have any sort of allowance in your budget, please consider donating to the Sean Hartter Memorial Fund, to assist his family in paying for his funeral arrangements. You can do so by following the link below.
The day Sean died, I found this quote and I shared it on Facebook for him. I’d like to think that he’s still around, somehow, and that he still lives on in the hearts of the people who won’t forget him.
“You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.”
Thank you, Sean, for the kindness and generosity you offered to Nick and I. I’m sorry that we didn’t get to meet you; I can only imagine how awesome it would have been to try Allison’s fried chicken and joke over dinner about Batman with you and your family. I’m grateful I was able to get to know you while I did, and I will never forget you.
Rest in peace.