Wednesday, January 20, 2016

When Our Online Friends Are Gone

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.

41 comments:

  1. So true about friendships here, and SO sad to hear of her passing. We do make some real and true connections through our shared interests. Take care.

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    1. <3 Love you both. This was beautiful, Andi. Or as our dear friend Nancy says, Andiloo. :)

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  3. Yes, this is so true. Online friends are close ones. So sorry to hear this.

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    1. Thank you, Mel. You're another onliner I've known forever. Hugs to you, my friend.

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  4. Oh honey, my heart hurts for your loss. I've only been doing the blog thing for a few years but the friendships are REAL and I'd be DEVASTATED if I lost one of my people. Hugs to you, my darling. (And real hugs. SOON!)

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    1. It is the weirdest terrible thing. The already big hole just gets bigger with the loss.

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  5. Having just begun my foray into online friendships (my blog is about 18 months old), I can already say that there are people that I would sincerely miss if I was not able to interact with them online. I have many introverted tendencies and the ability to interact and share more of myself with others through this method has been extremely helpful to me. I hate to hear this; I'm with you.

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    1. Me too! Introvert all the way, and this method of interaction generally comes way easier to me, with just as much sincerity, as in person interactions.

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  6. I am so, so sorry for such a loss to all of you who knew Tammy. It's a sad day. And I agree that sometimes the best friends of your life can be people who you have never or rarely seen face-to-face, but have shared many, many things over the years. I have 3 friends like that, one of them Les. We've all 'known' each other for almost 20 years and I've seen each of them exactly once. Andi, big hugs to you and to all of you who are grieving this loss. My thoughts and prayers.

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    1. Thank you, Kay. I've been fortunate to not lose too many of these people in my life...Dewey, Donna, and Tammy. I dread any further losses, for sure, and just want to hug my friends.

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  7. I am sorry for your loss. This is a very heartfelt post and thank you for sharing...

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  8. Oh Andi, I have no words that could possibly help. But I'm more sorry than I could ever express. I just so very, very sorry.

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  9. I'm so sorry for your loss. She sounds like a wonderful friend. I hope that you, and her family, find comfort in happy memories.

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  10. So sorry, Andi. Praying for you and the rest of the blogging community who knew her as you grieve her loss.

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  11. Beautiful, Andi. I'm still afraid of Game of Thrones. Will be hovering around when you crack the cover to see how it goes. Lots of love and hugs to you.

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  12. I was very sad to hear about her passing. Sorry for your loss!

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  13. Ohmigosh. I knew Tammy well, too. Or, I should say, I knew Taminator40 well when I got online. I didn't know she had passed away. She was wonderful. I think I met her through a Yahoo Group for fantasy fans, and she had so many wonderful recommendations for me.

    I always worry about losing blogging friends, too. One of my closest blogger friends, Heather from Raging Bibliomania, stepped away from blogging and is very sporadic getting in contact and I always worry about her, too. She, also, is a wonderful person.

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  14. Oh, Andi. I am so so so sorry. Many many internet hugs to you.

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  15. So sorry to hear about your loss. Sometimes people we don't see often and only hear from time to time leave such an impact. I look forward to hugging you at BEA! :)

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  16. So sorry to hear about your loss. Sometimes people we don't see often and only hear from time to time leave such an impact. I look forward to hugging you at BEA! :)

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  17. This is terrible. I can't imagine any of you not being around for a rapid-fire round of tweeting or an extra-long blog comment. I'm so sorry for your loss, and I'll be thinking of you. If I end up at BEA, you will get extra hugs from me!

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  18. So beautiful Andi. So many of my friends from the old Yahoo groups I have made wonderful friendships with, but I've never met them. Tammy was always so funny, quick with a oneliner, always made me laugh. I just cannot wrap my head around the fact that she is gone. Thanks for posting this, she will always have a piece of my heart.

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  19. I'm so sorry for your loss. Sending you loads of hugs xx

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  20. I'm sorry for your loss, Andi.
    The people I've gotten to know through blogging has such an impact in my life and are so special to me, I can just imagine how you must feel. Sending lots of hugs!

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  21. Sorry to hear this, Andi. Take care.

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  22. Oh Andi, I'm so sorry to hear this. :( *hugs*

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  23. It is never easy to lose anyone, but I think online friends hit a nerve with most of us. I am so sorry to hear about Tammy's passing. Hang in there, my friend!

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  24. Andi - I'm so sorry for your and everyone who knew Tammy's loss. You're so fortunate that you have made so many dear friends from this community and it's so sad to lose one.

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  25. Very true and heartfelt post. I believe some of our online connections are deeper than some of our IRL connections. I'm sorry for your loss.

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  26. Oh, Andi. I'm so sorry for your loss and the loss to the blogger/reader community. Tammy was only a couple of hours from me, and my heart goes out to her family. Those connections are so heavy to bear when they're broken for the whys of it all; we just fail to comprehend, sometimes. I'm sending you hugs, prayers, and good thoughts to help carry you. <3

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  27. My condolences. Such dreadful news and so sudden.

    I worry about my online friends. I worry that something will happen to them and they'll simply disappear without any word as to why. And I worry that I will suddenly disappear and my friends won't know why. I really need to get on with writing those instructions for my partner.

    Sending hugs and tea.

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  28. Aw, Andi, I'm so sorry to hear this. Sending you hugs xoxo

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  29. I often think that the fact that online relationships develop without actually being in daily contact help. It's easier to say things to people with you're not looking them in the face, when you're able to really be yourself and not worry what people think. If they like you, warts and all, you'll develop a bond. If they don't, you don't have to see them every day at work or home or in a group of friends. I used to scoff at my daughter when she talked about the close relationships she was making with people she had never "met." I don't do that any more. I understand. I'm sorry to hear about your friend and sorry that you never got to give her that hug.

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  30. I'm so sorry for your loss Andi. I didn't know Tammy but from the lovely tributes I've been reading she seems like a wonderful friend. Hugs to you!

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  31. I'm so sorry, Andi. I can't imagine losing such a close friend. I'll be thinking of you.

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