For Meg. (And, If I’m Going To Be Honest, For Me.)
When writing a blog, some of us put a literal — yes, literal — piece of ourselves out into the world, like a fish tossed to hungry gulls. Sometimes it’s nonsense. Something silly, with the intent to entertain. And sometimes it’s real, an investment, a feeling exposed. And sometimes, at the end, we’re left feeling like that carcass picked clean — tugged and torn with bones laid bare and yet strangely, still, immensely loved.
It’s the reason most of us do it, really, for the sense that we’re connecting with someone — affecting someone — and making them feel different than they had a moment before.
For a while, I had a fan.
I think she’d be okay with me calling her a fan, though I don’t know for sure, because I didn’t know her. I didn’t know her at all, really, even though we exchanged casual pleasantries with each other for well over two years. Our mutual friend Kevin introduced her to Domestiphobia, and for some reason or another what I had written resonated with her and she decided to stick around. She commented frequently, and after a time started emailing me directly in response to posts after subscribing to have them sent to her inbox. Most often it was a word of support, and sometimes a word of advice. Sometimes she’d just write to tell me that I’d made her laugh or that she agreed (or sometimes disagreed) with everything I had to say. Subtly, distinctly, Meg became my cheerleader. My reality check. My much-needed vote of confidence. As an artist, she served as the voice in my head urging me to think twice whenever I felt tempted to throw money away on meaningless kitsch to fill a meaningless shelf.
I guess that’s what I consider a “fan.” Someone who doesn’t really know you, but feels like she wants to.
Without me even realizing it, she’d worked her way in. I pictured her as a friend, and yet
I don’t even know what she looked like.
When her emails stopped, I’m ashamed that I didn’t notice. I’ve been writing here less frequently, have felt less attached to the idea of sending my voice out into the void, and subconsciously I must have felt like that was why I hadn’t heard from her — that she’d picked up on my detachment. Ironically, it hadn’t even occurred to me that maybe it was the lack of her voice — of her encouragement — that that fed the detachment to begin with. (Not that I’d put that on her. That’s unfair.)
As a reader, you know, you have far more power over a writer’s motivation than you think.
Last Friday night I was having a kickin’ time perusing Facebook when someone slapped me in the face.
Our friend Kevin had posted a painting of a sea turtle. It caught my restless internet eye, and so I read the caption. He said that the artist, his dear friend Meg, had recently left this world to fly free in the universe.
And I thought, My Meg?
And I thought, No, because we email.
And I thought, But did I hear from her after the last post? The last post was pretty good. She would’ve liked it. So I checked, and she hadn’t. And she hadn’t responded to the one before that. Or the one before that. Or even the one before that.
And then I emailed Kevin, but already I was crying, because already I knew.
She had been sick. In response to the last post she emailed me about, she suggested a shampoo that would help keep my hair from falling out. I thanked her sincerely for the suggestion. It didn’t occur to me to ask her why her hair was falling out.
And maybe that has nothing to do with anything. Or maybe it has something to do with everything.
We weren’t close. We were strangers who conversed online, sometimes. But to me, that feels close. An extended effort we make because we want to — not because we’re obligated. But she didn’t tell me anything. My selfishness astounds me. I’m angry with her, and that makes me feel worse. But
Meg broke my heart.
I miss someone I didn’t know.
And I didn’t even know that was possible.
And when I do this thing, when I hit publish to send my voice out into the void that feels even emptier now, I’m going to wait for an email that’s never going to come. My message will sit unread, unanswered, in her inbox indefinitely. I don’t have what it takes to unsubscribe her. I will feel sorry for myself.
And then, once again, it will be about me.
But also, Meg, thank you.
May Meg’s family and friends know that her life touched more than they even knew. Rest in peace.
Thank you, Tamara!
My dear friend, your voice out here in the void is something that many of us look forward to and enjoy. You bring a light and bit of levity to a world that desperately needs it. You do this because it’s who you are. You have a gift and you choose to share it with the world. You shine that light out and it reached places you may not have been aware it even could reach, and that is a wonderful thing.
Meg would have been elated to know you cared enough to react the way you did. The fact that you didn’t know about her illness isn’t any fault of anyone, least of all you. She was a VERY private person, and she preferred a veil of secrecy to protect herself with. But I’ll tell you this: your writing brightened her life. You gave her something that she could appreciate and relate to. I’m sure she was proud to have you as a email pal, but please don’t berate yourself for what she wouldn’t tell you. Few but her immediate family knew much, and those of us outside of that circle knew only that she had been ill.
Even though this article made me cry, and even though I’m hurting for you and everyone else affected by her absence, I am, as always, proud to know someone as kind, caring, talented and soulful as you. I think Meg was too.
I’m sorry this made you cry. :( But I’m also glad it was helpful in a way, to know she touched others. I just wish I had the chance to tell her that.
:( I don’t have anything of substance to say, just that I am so sorry. I understand who Meg was to you and how this must make you feel, and I am sorry. She sounds like a truly beautiful person and a blessing to those who crossed paths with her.
She was definitely a presence I’ll miss around here, that’s for sure. :(
Katie, thank you for your blog about this. It was more than uncanny that we all felt some part of the blog. It resonate with all of us in how meg enriched our lives as well. Kev shared this blog in our game group page. And the persons in the group knew Meg in some form or another.
I wish I could have known her better, but I hope this helped some of you as well. Writing this was definitely cathartic for me.
Aw…. Well if nothing else, you give me reassurance about how we touch people, even when we don’t know it or plan to. I’m sorry you’re hurting over this. I think I would feel the same if I lost any of my online friends. It’s a kind of grief we, as humans, don’t really know how to sort through…
That is very true. It’s hard to know how to miss someone you’ve never met, but I’m learning it’s very possible.
Oh Katie, I’m so sorry! I can really relate to much of what you wrote, and I can say that I have experienced something this traumatic, for lack of a better term, when I was a social worker. As human beings, our attachments to others happen in so many ways and we can, and do become connected to those who we may not even know in person.
I was supposed to place a 7 year old little girl into a foster home once, and waited for the call from the DSS worker, which never came. I called the foster mother about midnight and told her to go to bed and if the call came during the night, I’d let her know. The next day at the office, my supervisor came in and I could tell by the look on her face that something was horribly wrong. She informed me that the little girl was killed by her parents the day before. I knew her name, I had her paperwork on my desk, she was to be in my care, but it never happened.
I’m so sorry about Meg.
That is the saddest. :( Justin and I have talked about becoming foster parents once he retires from the military, but I’m wondering if I’d have the strength to handle that kind of heart break.
Katie I also knew Meg but never met her, you’ve expressed so much of what I felt when I found out she’d passed. Your words are very powerful and really touched me, thank you.
Thank you, Emma — writing this was definitely cathartic.
I love the post so much! Have a wonderful weekend:)
Thanks, Irene. :)
Lovely tribute post….RIP Meg.
Thanks, she was really special. I’ll be missing her emails for a long time, I’m sure…
Ah Katie, that sucks. I know you meant well, those things just happen, but I totally get how it would make you feel like shit. I am sure somewhere out there Meg understands.
Yeah… I still wish I had a chance to tell her how much I appreciated her. I hope she knew. :)