May. 1st, 2017

tarotgal: (BookCrossing)
I woke up this morning thinking my day was going to go like this:
1. Get to work early
2. Work my ass off doing 8 hours of work in 4 hours
3. Take the afternoon off to clean my house (which I do the first week of May every year)
4. Feed cats
5. Head to Hot Topic to pick up my shipments (yes, plural)
6. Go to Barnes & Noble for a discussion with my Harry Potter group about wizarding goverments, magical law enforcement, and shady judicial systems

And while I technically did most of the items in the above list, my day unfolded a lot differently from what I was expecting. Within fifteen minutes of being awake, I was on a multi-person email chain with a friend asking if any of us had heard from a mutual BookCrossing friend of ours. I hadn't. About 3 minutes into my breakfast it was discovered that our friend had died in February. We found her obituary online. I was in shock. I don't even remember eating the rest of breakfast. I do remember Ozma kitty jumping into my lap while I was watching the photo slideshow tribute. But mostly I was just crying and trying to process this sudden loss.

By the time I was settled at work, a member of the group discovered a news article explaining our friend had been hit by a car while crossing the street and had died. She was 58. So I fell apart at work several times. Then I got home and slipped into self-care mode instead of spring cleaning mode. I went through all my photos and put up short little tribute pages for her and for another one of our group members who passed away a few years ago. I have a very good track record of feeling better during the grieving process by looking at happy photographs. It wasn't until I did that for Cassie a few weeks ago that the weight I've been carried around lifted.

I still feel shocked and devastated about the loss, but the photos absolutely helped me remember the good times. She was my roommate when we went to Dublin, and therefore also my morning breakfast buddy and my outside-the-hotel adventure buddy and my "which bus do we even take to get from the airport to the hotel?" buddy. We had a lot of wonderful moments together during that trip. She's been a fixture in our local BookCrossing group for as long as I can remember. And one thing I love about my local BookCrossing group is how we rarely talk about books when we're together--we talk about ourselves and each other. Every month I get to see these friends again in person and get caught up on their lives and their thoughts. I got to learn about her many cats and her house (which sounded like quirky old construction, though I never saw it in person) and the trips she took and the Halloween decorations (I will never forget the image she put in my mind of skeletons in her front yard wearing dollar store fairy wings--anyone who thinks up a yard full of fairy skeletons is my kind of weird!).

The nature of the group, outside of a few members who have become some of my best friends and one who I see semi-regularly at my Harry Potter meetups too, is that we just don't share our lives in-between meetups. And sometimes people can't make it to meetings, so time might pass before you see the person again and find out how they're doing. We talk in our online group, but mostly only about book festivals or future meetups or the occasional article or local event. So they're sort of my online friends and sort of my real life friends. But, to me, they're just my friends. And I love them. So it hurts when one passes. And it hurts even more to find out 3 months after one passes. I feel like I should have known somehow. I did think it was strange not to hear from her in April, but I thought maybe she was just away on a trip and not able to go to the book festival. So I feel like I was robbed of something... I don't know what. I don't think it's closure. It wasn't time. Certainly I"m robbed of her--I'm going to miss her a lot. But I guess I feel like I missed out on being able to grieve with her friends and family and tell them how glad I was she was a part of our group and a part of my life. That's partly why I made the tribute page today; I needed to get my thoughts out and needed to process. And I can leave a message on the funeral home page. But it's not the same as being there in person for a service to really celebrate someone who touched you, who you respected and cared about. It's not the same as getting to see in person all the other people who loved your friend.

I don't blame her family; they didn't know us and didn't know how to contact us. The last thing you want to think about when something like that happens is how to contact people you've never met in order to give them the terrible news of the loss. But this is going to happen more and more now that so many people have friends online. I have a document in my fire safe that explains what sites/blogs to post messages on and which people in my different groups to contact upon my death (several people reading this now have already been notified that they're point people for this; I sincerely hope you never need to act upon it).

The toughest part about this loss is that even though I know I'm not alone today--that all of my other BookCrossing friends are sharing in this strangely delayed state of grief--I'm not there in person with them. I can't hug any of them and console any of them. We're all going through this together but entirely separately geographically. But we're talking online about things we can do. We're going to do a group donation to a cause she cared about--a local feline foundation. And we're going to have a special section of books at the book festival in a few weeks in her honor. And we might do a Halloween book release challenge in her honor. For me, it's those traditions that help me cope and remember best. It's an excuse to remember my friends--and I do so every time I see a book that reminds me of them. I have specially marked boxes of books in my basement for each of my BookCrossing friends I've lost and I put themed books in each throughout the year. If I get a a book about Pooh bear or soccer or horses or hugs, I put it in the box for Becky's annual memorial release. If I get a book about cats or the Civil War or by Pat Conroy, I put it in MaryZee's box to take up to Maryland the first weekend of November. If I see a book with a raven or penguin or motorcycle or historical markers, I put it in the box for TCM. And I guess now I'll be starting a new box with crazy science fiction/fantasy and cat books for my dearly missed friend FURBALL.

I wonder what kind of books they'd release in my memory? Probably Eeyore, Harry Potter, and gay romances. That's a pretty hilarious mix. But that's me.

About

Contents of this journal include: sneeze fetish references and lots of hurt/comfort, short fics and/or WIPS, everything from gen and het to slash and femslash, everything from G to NC-17, random ramblings about my life and fandom obsessions.

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