This age of email groups, Facebook, Ravelry, Kaboodle, Goodreads, Twitter (yes I am on all of these but use them in the most basic of ways) means that we are connected to people in new ways that are hard to define. I never knew how people felt connected to celebrities that they tracked, without actual exchange of thoughts, experiences and anything resembling conversation. Yes I thought it a tragedy when Princess Diana died but it did not hold any resonance for me personally. Yet, there are people I have never spoken to on the phone, or seen their smile who I consider my friends. Some of them I hold in my heart as close friends because of what we have shared of ourselves over the ethernet.
I have been fortunate to meet many of my online friends from a group I have been a part of since about 1995 or 1996. Some people have left the list and I miss them still, even though a few of them it's literally been at least five years since I was last in contact. Many of us have lost a parent, sibling or grandparent. A number of years ago we lost a member and even though we knew she was ill we always held out hope that one day a liver transplant would rescue her. It did not. Her death blew me away even though she and I were not close, and did not have any off list conversations that I can remember. One of her children went to live with another member of the list. That's the kind of list it is. We have had a neonatal death that devastated us all. A quilt was made by a number of us. A member in another country lost her son in a terrible car accident. Her grace, her wounding, and survival has taught us valuable lessons.
Yesterday we lost another member, in another country, Susan of Israel. Most of us had no idea how sick she was and as we exchange information it appears that she was never clearly diagnosed. What we do know is that, in an odd twist of reality, she too was waiting for a liver transplant. She leaves behind her partner and their twin children who are twelve years old. I read a number of messages, feeling a bit numb with a thin veneer of sadness shining through. Another member of this list wrote the loveliest note which finally washed away the numbness and tears leaked out. When Sunny was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago I wrote Susan asking if I could impose on her partner, an oncologist to review the biopsy results and suggested treatment. We corresponded off list on and off over the years and held a great deal of admiration for each other. This time I do feel like I have lost a friend, a hard to define type of friendship but there is an empty space in my sphere now.
The way we lack words to express all the different forms of love, it seems like our language is sorely missing ways to describe all the types, degrees of friendships. There are people on the above social media formats that seems to collect "friends" with their numbers of connections 500, 750, or over 1000. There is no way to truly or deeply know that many people. Sometimes we feel like we express ourselves a great deal over this media but tone, touch, movement are all missing and with that lost there is often a connection missing. However this does not mean we do not bond with some of these people deeply and meaningfully. I would be less than I am today if I had not connected with some of these people on the internet.
Susan, you will be missed. Your passing has left a hole in our hearts.