Thursday, July 23, 2015

All Our Friends

Friends come from different places. 
Back in 1996, an Internet friend said I had a "big back yard."  I love that image, leaning over the fence to chat, commiserate, gossip, vent with all the friends I have all over the world.  That's what the Internet has brought me.  Oh they say that the Internet has brought us new worlds, made the global village much smaller, and introduced us to new wonders, new technology.  And I surely agree.  But friends...that is the greatest thing I take from the Internet.

My introduction to the Internet was in 1994 when I first bought a little computer--a little "pizza box" Mac with a 1200 baud modem.  It came with a disk that introduced me to Delphi, a UNIX-based online chat.  I joined that forum and found it great fun.  Not long after, I joined the "real" internet (Delphi was a closed group, like AOL was) and began chatting on Internet Relay Chat (IRC).  It was there that I found a great group of friends on (channel) #41plus.

Over the next few summers, I drove across the states and met and stayed with many of these people who had become friends. My driving across the country, meeting online friends is how I came to have the nickname "roadbabe."  Over the next 10 years, I would have met face-to-face thousands of #41plus people.  I dated a few.  I even married someone I met online; we just celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary.  Many of these wonderful people are still good friends, even though they are often many miles away.

In 1998, I started writing on an online diary site, Open Diary (OD). It was the first interactive diary established on the 'web.  I soon found that the appeal was greater than having a place to post my thoughts, but that I would become friends with many of those who posted comments to the entries.  Again, I traveled and met many of the OD friends; some I would never meet but we stay close and in contact through other social media.

In 2000, I started visiting forums on Delphi Forums, first as a web writer for a beginning website, and later as a social outlet.  I would post to an online tavern and eventually became a "barmaid."  I discovered quilting and began learning different things from a couple of quilting sites.  Again, this became an important aspect of my social interactions.  And again, I have visited some of my Delphi friends, but generally we are online close, only.

A typical Wilma quilt: warm and full of stars
This past week two of my bestest friends on a Delphi Quilting forum have died.  Both deaths were a shock.  I loved them so much and my heart is broken.  I just feel numb, not wanting to do anything.  The loss of these friends is as hard, or even possibly more difficult, as the loss of any close friend.  I say perhaps harder because there is no opportunity to attend their memorial service, share our love and stories.  See, these two women lived thousands of miles from me.  One I had met face-to-face.  We spend two vacations together--one in my state and one in her state.  The other I had never met in person, but we were soul-sisters.

Typical Kathy quilt: bright and fun
One friend had not been online for nearly a month and we on the forum were worried.  Another forum member who lives in the same state drove an hour or so to this woman's house and found mail unopened in the mailbox.  She called the police for help.  They entered the house and found she had passed while in bed.

This is almost unbearably heartbreaking for me, for us, but one thing upsetting my friend who drove and to me, who was calling, writing, emailing, was the police report. "The police were notified by strangers."  Like many, the officer did not understand that we were her family, too.  We knew her better in many ways than her own sister.  We knew she was in trouble because she wasn't in contact with us.  And we were worried enough that someone drove 100 miles in order to check.

I have many many friends--some online, some in town, some out of town.  Some we never get physically together and some we get together in person.  And I love them all.  I know them well.  Face-to-face friends or on Internet friends--it's the same.  Don't let anyone kid's the same.

Take care of yourselves, my friends.


Anonymous said...

Love you Doris.

Lora S. said...

AKA anonymous

MLEH said...

This hurts my heart. I've come to love so many of the folks I've met on the 'net. We've encouraged each other, ranted about injustices together, teased each other, helped each other, cooperated on charity projects, exchanged quilt blocks, fabric, gifts, and helpful hints, laughed together, cried together. Without exception, those I've also met IRL are wonderful people, every bit as charming as their online personae. (And that includes you, Doris. That magical week on the Oregon coast remains one of my fondest quilting memories. Didn't we have fun, though! I'd love to do it again.)

To everything there is a season. It appears that now is our time to mourn for the dear friends -- not strangers -- we've lost. It's also our time to draw together more closely and speak our feelings for each other. Peace and comfort to you, my dear friend.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, I didn't realize Peggy found her. That's even worse. How awful that is. Of course she was not a stranger! How would she have known to go check on her, had she been a stranger? That's dismissing the whole nature of friendship, and makes it that much sadder. FebDeb