Monday, February 2, 2009


10 years ago, when a teacher at my children's school died in a car accident, I went to an online chatboard for people interested in antiques. I needed to talk to someone who wasn't grieving and the first person I met was really nice. I used to visit daily and discovered a wild group of folks, all about my generation and enormously creative. We all sort of created a town, with cyber jobs, silly adventures. It was quite wonderful. It might have lasted for a year or so, but that seems sadly short lived in retrospect. I don't know if it collapsed under the weight of it's own cleverness or perhaps 40-somethings with real jobs and kids and lives just can't sustain that kind of fantasy.

The chatboard still exists. The former ring-leaders are gone -- some have passed away, some have stormed away, some have drifted away. Some of the folks from those beginning heady days are still there and new people have joined in the conversation. Real friendships have sprung up (real as in they know each other's real name, what each other looks like), while some are just friends online. The talk is about the weather, pets, travel, families and even the similar interests that brought us there in the first place. I don't need it to fill the hole in my life as I did 10 years ago and it's not the wild place it once was, but I still meander over there sometimes to see what is going on and to say hello. Birthdays are celebrated. And sadly, so are deaths.

One of the regulars died in a car crash this past weekend. There has been a large outpouring of grief at her passing. There has been a large outpouring of support for her husband, her daughter the rest of her family. Her stories have been remembered. Here are people who never met her or her family, who are reaching out to them with love, with what support they can provide, with stories of her, with prayer.

I have always held a view of people as inherently good. The responses to this woman's passing just reinforces that view. It reminded me of the interconnectedness of all man and womankind. In the first Star Wars movie made, when the Princess' home planet is blown up, Obi Wan stops a moment and says, "I feel a disturbance in the Force." On this chatboad, this wonderful collection of friends is feeling a disturbance because a friend is no longer there and will be greatly missed.

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