I'm very sorry to report that John Hannah, a fixture in the Hit & Run comment threads under the handle J sub D, has died of lung cancer. His earliest comment on the site -- or at least the earliest I can find -- is here; his final one is here.
The last years of Hannah's life were hard ones, to judge from this Mitch Albom column. Albom's article describes a veteran who died alone, his body waiting for someone to claim it; the column is as unaware of Hannah's witty, politically charged life online as we on the Web were unaware of J sub's unhappy personal circumstances:
Hannah, as near as I can piece together, grew up somewhere in Wayne County. He served years in the Navy, reached the relatively high level of E8 (in the Navy, that would be a senior chief petty officer). At some point, perhaps a decade ago, his wife died, and he took it hard. He didn't want to live anymore.
"He just dropped out of sight," said Jim Hoffner, who oversees the kitchen at Pilgrim Church/I Am My Brother's Keeper Ministries in Detroit, where, for the last five or six months, Hannah had been sleeping among other homeless men, on vinyl mats beneath wool blankets. "He was a helluva nice guy. Intelligent. He helped with the chores here. At some point every day, he would walk up to the library at Wayne State. I think he used the computers there."
He thinks. Someone else thinks. There are snippets of John Hannah from people he encountered in his final months.
He was Caucasian, thin, 5 feet 5 or so. He smoked and had lung cancer, which he accepted.
"He said he came here to die," Annette Covington related. She is the wife of the church's late pastor, Henry Covington. She knew Hannah as a quiet, decent man, who, after the kindness shown him at the shelter, said he changed his mind and wanted to live.
It was too late.
Jennifer Abel, who interacted frequently with Hannah on the Grylliade forum, points me to the post there where he reacted to his diagnosis:
My spirits are good if somewhat subdued for the time being. Swallowing the news was both harder and easier than I would have expected. I know that makes no sense but that's the way I am. I haven't cried or gone into woe is me mode. I'm certainly not embracing the situation but seem to be accepting the reality fairly well. Someone once said "Life's a bitch and then you die" which is only half true. "Life's a joy that has to end" might be a better way to put it.