I've written about my former guild before, Celtic Siege.
I have many fond memories with them, including countless Heroics at a time when we were undergeared newbies and each run was a fun, challenging affair. I can honestly say that while I had read hunter blogs & studied my class intently, it was only through these guild runs that I became comfortable and fully aware of the ins and outs of the hunter class.
One of the constants in these runs was our paladin healer/tank, Battleground. Battle, or BG for short, was one of the older guildies (in real life), with two teenage/college-age sons in the guild. He was present in my first encounter with Celtic Siege, when I pugged into their group to complete Hail To The King, Baby for Children's Week.
He wasn't the most well-geared or experienced player, but it was always great running with him because he never got discouraged or upset, would always listen to and try new tactics, and emanated a welcoming, encouraging aura. We all ran countless dungeons together; a great deal of my group experience today is from learning the ropes while Battle tanked or healed.
He was also extremely generous with his own time, and would always help run a lower-leveled guildmate through a regular dungeon, or fly all the way over to Zul'Drak to tank the Amphitheater of Anguish, etc. We often had to encourage or force him to take upgrades, because he was so eager to let others gear up, even at the expense of his own advancement. That was just his way.
When I left CS to join TTGF to raid, it was an agonizing decision that troubled me for days. I knew that my current game desire - to raid current, progression content - no longer matched up with Celtic Siege's, and I knew it was the right decision. But I still felt ashamed, like I was betraying and abandoning all the great friends I had made in CS.
I randomly ran into Battleground in Orgrimmar around Christmas, and we stopped to exchange greetings. Good old Battle was his cheerful self, asking how I'd been, how the raiding was going, how my brother was (who had also been in Celtic Siege). It was nice to talk to him, and inwardly I was secretly relieved that he didn't resent me for leaving. He was 84, so I gave him a pre-emptive congrats on 85. I also saw from his Violet Proto-Drake that he had completed What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been, so I popped mine out and we shared a funny /cheer at each other before parting ways.
Two days ago I logged onto my priest, who is still in Celtic Siege, to see how Discipline's Smite-spec was for leveling. Battleground's son Sneaky was online, and I was shocked and horrified to hear that Battle had needed heart surgery, and wasn't doing very well. Sneaky had just come from the hospital and was attempting to play for a bit to take his mind off things.
This morning I learned that Battle had passed away.
Celtic Siege has always felt like an online family, and Sneaky was logged in to share the tragic news. He told us he would be taking over his dad's paladin, now 85, to run the Cataclysm dungeons since Battle hadn't gotten the chance.
I really don't know much about Battle in real life, except that he played WoW with his children. I don't even know his real name. But anyone who has ever known him in-game has lost an amazing person today. He cared so much about his kids, about his friends in Celtic Siege, and about everyone he met. I never heard him say a negative word about anyone, and in WoW's world of trolls and terrible pugs, that is saying a lot.
I urge you to take a moment and think about your in-game/online friends, and realize that even though if you've never met, even if you don't know their actual names, how much it would hurt if they were suddenly torn away.
Battleground was a loving guildmate, a great player, and a wonderful person.
He was my friend.