I came to the online book community through Yahoo Groups back in 2001. At the height of Oprah's Book Club, groups of readers were beginning to find each other online, forming communities around monthly discussions, with lots of daily book chat thrown in. A few years later, blogging started to take shape, and many of those good friends I'd made in groups, had their own sites to follow.
Heather, Amanda, Les, Nancy, Bellezza, Tammy, and so many others have been my friends online since I was 21 years old. Fifteen years of figuring things out. I was just finding books again after a drought of reading in high school and early college. Rare was the trip to a bookstore that I didn't become overwhelmed, having no idea where to start. It was through the relationships formed in Yahoo Groups that I started to know myself as an adult reader and explore my interests with the help of reading friends.
I found out yesterday that Tammy of Under a Blood Red Sky, and more recently What I Really Need are Minions, passed away from a swift and unexpected illness. I am heartbroken as so many of us are.
Tammy was the best kind of person. "A good egg" as Nancy said to me. She was full of good humor, sass, kindness. She was a cheerleader...as a parent, a teacher, and a friend. I will never forget her words of support over the years. How she always managed to be there when this or that was going on. How she always had a supportive word whether it was about relationships, reading, or the rocky waters of Greyson's schooling. She was level-headed and wanted everyone around her to be built up. She leaves a family behind, broken-hearted, students, friends. All who loved her.
Tammy bugged me to read A Game of Thrones for 15 years. She might've been hard-headed in the best way.
As I was hunched over my phone last night, desperately messaging my long-time friends and trying to find out what happened, fighting back tears, I was reminded in the most tragic, tangible way how much we mean to each other.
It's not lip service to say that I've made some of the dearest, most enduring friends of my life online. I am so fortunate to have met many of my online friends, but in these moments, I am absolutely heart-heavy that I was never able to hug Tammy. To experience her warmth in person.