In the age of highly curated social media presences, it’s rare you find someone who speaks legitimate truth to their lives. Those who unmask the blemishes of society and punch up tend to hide behind a bombastic persona wholly unlike their typical demeanors once the cameras shut off.
The 53-year-old disabled veteran joined the video platform over a decade ago, posting reaction videos and delighting in tabletop games, music, podcasts, and “whatever weird thing pops into my cranium.” One of the biggest forces of support in his life has been his pet hamsters. It’s been a rough journey for Roeben, who says he lost his wife in 2014 due to complications from treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Roeben has been unable to sustain himself since. He says he suffers from fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, and carpel tunnel, among many other complications. He says his finances took a massive hit after his wife died and he lost his house, forcing him to relocate to a partitioned off room in a garage without a bed, kitchen, or single real amenity. But at least he had his hamsters.
On Thursday, his oldest hamster, Patches, passed away. “She was one of my older, older more favored hamsters,” Roeben explained in the video. “She was Patches. She was about a pound and a half. And she passed away this morning… This is the bad part about pets is that they die before you do, especially hamsters.”
He said he was wrecked, that he’d post more videos the next day, and that he was going for a walk.
Between posting the video and getting ready to get up on Friday and get back to his channel, viewers sent his missive to the top of Reddit‘s r/videos and there’s been renewed interest in a GoFundMe from last year that was helping him get back on his feet.
Donations have been pouring in and Roeben’s subscriber count on YouTube and followers on Twitter have continued to rise. A redditor reached out to the Shelton, Washington, man: He’s yet to respond directly to the support following the death of Patches, but he is thankful for all the new friends.
Hokey Smokes! Thank you ALL so much, and I sincerely hope I do not bore all of you to tears! :) Take care everyone! pic.twitter.com/E2agha4AbG
— Nerly Señor Citzen (@william_roeben) November 11, 2016
The fact that the internet has come together to help Roeben work through his grief and potentially help him be able to live the life he deserves is perhaps the only feel good story in a lackluster week of tragedy. Though down a family member, his candor, humor, and vibrant personality has given Roeben a global community firmly in his corner.
And Patches would be delighted.