Os has suspended HNT for this week due to the tragic and untimely death of one of his friends who was a big participant in HNT. I've seen several other posts regarding Betcha's death and to those who knew her well I offer my heartfelt condolences. It is so very painful to loose a friend in the prime of his/her life. It's hard to grasp the reality. It's strange to add to the pain the inability to express condolences to the deceased's family because a relationship was limited to online interaction and a certain anonymity was retained for whatever reasons. There seems a lack of closure.
Some would say that friendships formed online can't possibly reach the depth they do face to face. Some would question why or how a person can become attached to another who is only ever represented by a bunch of digitized bits and bytes. My grandmother had a penpal in England for 20 years before they ever met face to face and yet they considered each other dear friends. Mind you, this 'relationship' started in the days when paper and pencil letters took a couple weeks to make it across the Atlantic. No one thought that was a questionable manner of making friends. I know married couples who became engaged after meeting each other through programs that encouraged civilians to write letters to soldiers overseas. These are strong marriages with partners who have endured lovingly for decades. People hear that and say, 'Awwww, how romantic.' But speak to people of your online friend and they look at you like you've gone mad.
I've read some of you when you've shared about various trials and tribulations. More of you than I can recall have said things to the effect that the sharing and support you've received online has been of immeasurable benefit and blessing to you. Some of you have even said that your online friends were of greater comfort and help than the people surrounding you. I know I certainly have received my share of kindness, compassion, laughs, and encouragement from all of you at the times when I've most needed it most. For that I am truly and deeply grateful. I don't think we are all manufacturing this out of thin air.
I'll admit, in my 3D life I don't mention many of you to the people around me because I've gotten the 'gees what kind of desperate person must she be' response. Mr. Lime and my kids have a vague idea about a couple of you (actually, my kids have more of an idea than my husband) but he has said he has no interest in hearing anything about the people I correspond with because 'it's not real.' Now, I told him when I started this blog, but when discussing it a couple weeks ago he said, 'What's a blog? What do you mean you have one? Why?'
So I have two lives, the 3D one, and the online one. There are points at which I wish there were some intersection and points at which I wish to keep the two entirely separate. Regardless, a friendship that nurtures, sustains, encourages the best in another person, and shares the good and bad is real...no matter the context. I thank all who have extended theirs to me. I offer my sympathy to those who are grieving now.