It's been a rough couple of weeks for my virtual friends. I detest that expression. It makes them sound like they're imaginary or somehow less than real. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I've been a member of JoAnn Ross's online community for the last seven years. It's a diverse group of people who support and encourage each other in their writing endeavors. It's a close group of people who share in each other's triumphs and tribulations. There's even an off-shoot group for those of us concerned that sitting on our butts all day while we create little worlds of our own may have a less-than-attractive impact on those same butts. I truly cherish the friends I've made from that group. I've been privileged to have met several in person. Over a cup of tea while we gathered some supplies to send to another member of our group.
Ruby struggled with congestive heart failure but you'd never have known it from her cheery posts to the group. Her voice was one of the loudest when it came to cheering others on. Her sense of humour was unwavering. She was determined in so many ways. To be a great writer. A wonderful mother. A loving wife. A good friend. Maybe not in that order but those were her goals. When I think of all the emails she sent encouraging me to turn the music up loud and dance across the room, I smile. Her soul was a beauty. I miss her voice in the group with a sense of loss that is incomprehensible to people that think Ruby was a virtual friend.
Still reeling from that hit two weeks ago, I'm in shock over the second loss from the CB community. Bob Mayer and Jennifer Crusie had no idea what they unleashed on the world when they started their blog to promote Don't Look Down in 2006. Neither did we. People cruised by to see what the fuss was about. Left a comment. Responded to another person's comment. The next thing we knew, there was a party, some fast friendships were formed and enduring relationships forged. Margaret was there from the beginning, a silent lurker until someone lured her down to join us at the party. Margaritas shared, road trips survived and through it all a loyalty to each other that superseded our ethnic, political, religious and cultural differences.
There's a strong CB contingent on the left coast. They'll travel four hours to have lunch with each other. And they all did their best to keep Margaret connected throughout her battle with cancer. Even though I kept up with that fight through her blog, it never occurred to me, she wouldn't triumph. She was strong and brave and funny and crazy like the rest of us. She was quick to praise and share in our accomplishments and her laughter managed to transcend the written format. I can't believe she's gone.
Despite my geographic disability, I've managed to travel with and to several CBs over the past year. In a strange quirk that I only discovered after Ruby's death, she lived in the same hometown of a CB I visited frequently. My two online communities linked.
I never had the privilege of meeting Ruby or Margaret in person. But that doesn't make their losses any less painful or diminish the significance they had in my life. They were real women whose friendships I cherished.
And they would both hate the fact that my grief has kept me from writing for three days. I'm going to crank up the music and dance across the room, then sit back down to honour them both by putting words on the page.