When I first started blogging, I learned quickly the importance of networking. I began visiting random blogs and following comments to find writers (and possible readers) who meshed with me. About a year and a half (or so) ago, I saw Rachael's link on a Five Question Friday. I read her post, found she was new to blogging, and left her a comment to help her get started.
Over the next few months she became one of my 'bloggy friends.' I don't read a ton of blogs, and I don't follow a ton of people on Twitter. I reserve that for those that I really connect with, or the ones I interact with often. She was one of those. She always had an encouraging comment to leave me, or a sweet tweet.
I remember when she gave her recipe for pulled-pork, and though I had never considered cooking with root beer, I gave it a whirl, and it's the recipe I use to this day. One of the last times she tweeted, she said she was making it and wanted to know how many places to set. I told her to set one for me, I'd be right there (she's from the East Coast, so we knew that wasn't going to happen).
Soon she was talking about her upcoming vacation and how excited she was. She would see her mother in Florida, then head to MO to see a brother. We fancied the idea of having a chance to meet in person while she was here...though it never came to fruition.
Time passed, as it does, and being busy I didn't notice her missing at first. When Kailyn was born I was surprised not to have heard from her, but dismissed it, thinking she could still be on vacation. I looked at her blog, seeing her last post in March, and figuring she was having a dry spell (don't we all). I had already read that entry, so I didn't click on it.
Months passed and as tends to happen, she slipped from my mind. I got used to not seeing her. And out of sight soon meant out of mind.
Then the other day someone tagged her in a Facebook picture.
"THERE she is! She is still alive!" I thought to myself. Using the old cliche, and ready to go comment on the photo to ask where she'd been.
Unfortunately when I did that, I saw the caption. The tagger speaking of her as if she were gone. Talking about missing her and always being with her.
A knot formed in my throat.
I began hard-core creeping, and found that she had passed away. She never made it to Missouri. She was my age, and by some freak illness she died in her sleep while visiting her mother.
My heart was full and heavy. For someone I'd never even met.
I started thinking about all of my bloggy friends. We aren't "close," I guess, but I know what they're up to. I know how their days went. I think of them when I read certain things, or when the weather changes, or when someone mentions Canada. I didn't really realize what a structure these people were in my life, and how truly REAL they are to me.
I've been mourning this loss all week, and realizing that losing a blog friend doesn't hurt any less than losing a 'real' one must.
Goodbye, Rachael. You've been and will be dearly missed.