Tuesday, November 9, 2010

guilty feet have got no rhythm

i am in deep mourning for someone i held very dear to my heart.  someone i'd really connected with, admired, loved. 

i never got to meet her in person, though.  and i'll always regret that.  she died last week after a ridiculously short battle with stomach cancer - diagnosed only this june.  and a precious five months later, she's gone.  i cannot believe it.  she left behind a wonderful husband, a doting father, countless other family members, and a big ol' group of invisible friends - like me - who loved her.
 
see, when the hub and i were planning our wedding, i spent a lot of my time on the mother of all wedding websites - the knot.  and while i didn't really utilize my local board much (since we were getting married in hawaii), i hung out on the national message boards.  a lot.  the one i loved the most was called "wedding woes."  at first, i lurked and read the posts and got to know the girls who were regulars on the board.  and then i decided to just jump in and play.

they were all so friendly, especially when they realized i was normal - at least, according to WW standards.  heh.  and while i had a blast chatting with everyone (all day long, every day that i was at work, heh), there was one girl in particular who i gravitated towards.  she went by the username "cinnamonspark," and she was just so witty, clever (i learned all about being a snarky bitch from this girl), and hilarious that i loved her instantly.  we really clicked, and with every day that went by, i felt as close to her as any "real life" friend would. we had a lot in common, and her wedding date was even on my birthday that year.

we all spent months chatting every single day about everything from minute wedding details to the most fantastically insane stories about her MIL-to-be to whatever was happening in the world at that moment.  there was a great group of regulars on that board, and i was happy to be part of it.  although the board was created to vent about problems with wedding planning, our group pretty much took it over and it was just a place for us to go and spend downtime together.  sometimes newbies would come around and get really sensitive and angry when their posts were ignored, or if we fired off responses that they didn't want to hear.  i guess we were bullies in a way, but sometimes the girls would read our replies and come to realize that we were right.  and in most cases, those girls would end up joining the group.

when cinny's wedding date came, we all wished her well and waited anxiously for photos and stories from the big day.  she was one hell of a storyteller, and she didn't disappoint.  and i still remember my first post after our wedding, asking if she was around that day, and she came in and said "i'm here, you fabulous married whore!"  that's just how we were, and it was awesome.

but then, in march of 2006, the "powers that be" at the knot started cracking down on us. a lot of those whiny newbies (they were dubbed "beebee brides") had been complaining about us, as well as a few of the other boards with groups just like us.  the "knotzis," as we called them, started banning users left and right.  in a matter of a couple of days, roughly half of our board was gone.  some returned with new usernames after the 72-hour waiting period that it took to receive posting privileges, but a lot started up a new board on a different site.

WW was never the same after that.  with the loss of so many regulars, there was little action on the board.  i joined the spinoff board for a while, but lost interest as it really wasn't the same.  we tried to get cinny to join us, but she felt the same as i did.  instead, she just kept going back to WW and chatting with those who stayed, as well as newbies who rolled in.  i'd pop in now and then, but with the board so quiet, i'd finally turned to my local board to meet new "knotties," ones i might actually be able to meet and get to know.  i don't think i've ever told her this, but i felt the same way about weezermonkey as i did about cinny - i liked her instantly and knew we'd be great friends.

a few weeks ago, i received an e-mail from one of the girls on the old WW board that told me that my dear cinny was battling stomach cancer.  i just couldn't believe it.  not her - no way.  but apparently,  the chemotherapy wasn't working anymore and she was hoping to get in on some clinical trials to hopefully keep up the fight.  they were putting a photo book together of her WW friends, old and new, and i was excited to participate.

but i was always too damn busy to sit down and take a fucking picture.  there was always something i needed to do, a project to complete, a phone call to make.  i kept sending her love and prayers, and my stupid optimistic self just never thought that it would ever be too late.  i can't believe i was idiotic enough to think that it would just get better and she would be okay.  i am so incredibly racked with guilt that i didn't make the time to do this, even though, as it turns out, it wouldn't have gotten into her hands in time.  i can't believe how self-involved i've been, even knowing the hell she must've been going through.

and then yesterday morning, as i sat in traffic, i happened to check my facebook account (i know, i know) and noticed an e-mail from one of the WW girls.  when i saw the subject line, my heart sank.  because i just KNEW, the tears came immediately.  and through the blur, i saw the words i was dreading:  "hate to tell you...cinnamonspark...WonderW1fe...passed away."

the phone fell from my hand and as it sank in, the tears gave way to full-on crying.  i sobbed and sobbed, and i couldn't stop.  not her.  not that amazing, fabulous woman who was going to make such an awesome mom to some beautiful children.  and i didn't stop crying on and off, all day long.  it was hard as hell to smile for the customers at work, and i fought back tears the whole time.  and when the teen noticed that i was unusually quiet, i started crying again and had to work really hard to get the words out. 

i realize how insane it sounds to feel that close to someone i'd never met.  i do.  but when you spend five days a week chatting with someone, you really get to know and care about them.  and it's actually really hard to find friends at this stage of life, i think.  the internet can not only find you a date (or a spouse, in many cases) - it can find you a whole group of women that you have tons in common with, who you never would've found otherwise.  i've made so many friends via the knot and the nest, and life has been so much fun with them in my life.

this girl had lived through a lotta shit - growing up with no mom, a tough childhood with a military dad, living overseas for a while, and still managing to emerge from it all as one hell of a smart, funny, beautiful woman who lived life to its fullest.  she and her husband seemed to be a match made in heaven, the perfect couple - and now he faces life without his "WonderW1fe" (the username she went by over the last couple of years).   obviously, i never met him, never said a single word to him, but man, how i wish i could give him a big ol' hug right now.  at least half of my tears have been shed for him, because she loved him so much and i know he's got to be reeling right now.


but i feel super lame.  as much as i admired and liked her, i hadn't "talked" to her in months.  granted, i haven't had much time to play online at all since i stopped working in an office, but still - i could've made a better effort to keep in touch.  i posted on twitter and facebook as soon as i heard the awful news, reminisced with other WW friends, accepted condolences from others.  and i feel like such a fraud, so fake, for it.  ugh.

i'm rambling, i know.  i'm sorry.  it's really effing hard to find the words i need to express how i'm feeling, and i'm doing an awful job of it.  it doesn't help that my thoughts are so jumbled and my emotions are just all over the place.  i guess, if nothing else, this inspires me to be a better friend.  to make sure i keep in touch with everyone i love, be more conscious about getting together, to tell them how much they all mean to me.  and to tell my current "invisible" friends - those of you who i've gotten to know, traded e-mails with, are facebook/twitter buddies with, but have never actually met or very rarely see - i love you and i'm happy that you're in my life.

rest in peace, dear friend.  i'm sorry i never got to tell you how i cherished our friendship.  i hope your close friends and family are dealing with your loss.  the world is less fun without you in it, but i sure am grateful for the time you spent in it.  i'll be wearing purple (the color for stomach cancer) tomorrow, the day of your memorial service, in your honor.  and i'm listening to wham! right now and thinking of you.

"careless whisper" will never be the same again.

edit:  i returned to WW last night after a long, long absence.  i wanted to be surrounded by people who had known and loved cinny as much as i did.  and i'm so glad i did - i found myself reminiscing and laughing as i read other knotties' memories of her. there were girls there who'd joined WW after a lot of us had left, and even more heartwarming was the return of an astonishing number of OG WWers like me.  i read posts from knotties i hadn't seen in ages, all back on the board as the word spread of our mutual loss.  there were a few who reposted some of her most fantastic stories, and links to some of her final posts before she got too sick to play.  it was fantastic to laugh all over again at a couple of her truly epic stories, and it really helped me to have people to grieve with.  and the most wonderful part for me was when a couple of them shared posts she'd written about me, long after i'd made my last appearance on the board.  it made me feel like maybe, just maybe, she'd felt the same way about me as i did about her.

i'd like to think she's up in heaven somewhere, reading our posts on a sparkly laptop and guffawing at the memories - just like we were.  man, i sure hope so.

25 comments:

  1. this post leaves me speechless! i used to lurk and post every now and again on WW back in the day. i remember everything you spoke about here.

    every once in a while i would still leap over to WW to see if it ever recovered to it's old fabulous form. it took me a little while to decipher the new names of the old WWers, but learned very quickly that wonderw1fe was cinny.

    it has been months since i had been to the board and had no idea she was ill. i remember her talking about her childhood and the crazy stories she would tell. she seemed like an incredible woman!

    love and prayers to her family and friends, real and invisible.

    (((hugs)))

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  2. Chills.....your post left with me chills and tears in my eyes. What a touching tribute to Cinny....I can hear her tell you "Girl, shut up", but would love every bit of it.

    *To Cinny*


    MotherBucker

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  3. This is amazing Wan. You know this whole invisible friend thing started back in the day for us, and well, I've always secretly hoped I could "grow up" to be like you. I just felt like you should know that now...just because Ww/Cinn is only hearing things like this from heaven.

    We all loved her. We all miss her. Wonderhusband is in our thoughts and prayers.

    Love.

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  4. :( I can feel your pain. I'm so sorry for your loss. I think everyone who posts on the nest/knot will know and understand the bond you shared with this person, even though you never met her in person. Hang in there.

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  5. Wan-
    You spin words almost as well as Cinny did. I know she knew how much she was loved, and I don't doubt she loved everyone from WW (past and present) just as much. Thank you for expressing so many of the things I haven't been able to put into words.
    ~mrsoh

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  6. I am so sorry. I have so many online friends who I've never met in person, or have seen a few times. I understand what you mean when you say that those friendships are just as important as "real life" friendships.

    You brought tears to my eyes with your post. I'll pray for strength for all her family and friends.

    xoxoxo

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  7. I'm going to conjure up WW and say:

    Damn it girl! My eyes appear to be leaking!

    This was a beautiful blog post. WW was the reason I was attracted to WeddingWoes in the first place. She kept me coming back time and again for her special brand of humor and wit. When my job blocked The Knot, it was WW I missed the most. And like you, I feel like I let life get in the way and did not keep in touch with her the way I should have. And I, too, missed the deadline for the photobook. I originally started to kick myself for that... but then realized that Oyana KNOWS how we feel about her now. Even if we didn't get to tell her as much as we would've liked... I truly believe that she feels an overwhelming pouring of love being sent up to her right now.

    Thanks for this post, Wan! Volumes could be written about this amazing, strong, hilarious, clever woman we called Wonderwife/Cinn.

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  8. Oh Wan, I completely understand how you feel. Invisible or not, met them or not these connections we have found online are very real. (((hugs))) I feel the same way about my knottie/nestie friends. My hub used to laugh at me about how I would talk about my girl pals like I know them, but I do. There are things we share that we might not even share with visible friends. Although I didn't know Cinny my heartaches because of the void she has left behind in her friends' hearts.

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  9. :*-(



    What a beautiful post and tribute to your friend. I'm sorry, Wan.

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  10. it's so weird the bond you can form with a person you've never even met in real life. you laugh when they talk about how they forgot to wear a bra to the gym,you cry tears of joy after hearing about pregnancy after struggling so long with infertility,
    you feel sadness for them when they lose someone dear to them. right now i feel that sadness for you.

    i'm sorry you lost someone that clearly meant a lot to you.

    my thoughts & prayers go out to her husband and family(who as i can see from all the posts about her on WW i just saw) was an absolutely amazing woman.

    ((HUGS Wan))

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  11. This post is just lovely as are you. I am so sorry.

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  12. :*( Big real hugs. I couldn't help but thinking about losing one of you guys, one of my MMers, my nesties, my Twirlies, and I was in tears. How sad this is for her family and friends. Sorry Wan.

    =*(

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  13. I wish I could express myself as well as you.

    I hadn't been on the board in a long time (since the bannings) but I would lurk once in a while just to read Cinns stories. I stopped when they changed the format the last time. I had no idea she was sick.

    I think all of us that "knew" her are all mourning her right now.

    Makes you appreciate all your invisible friends just a little bit more than you did before.

    Kristi

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  14. It makes me climb into the way back machine to think about the fun we used to have, first on RE then on WW. Was it really 5+ years ago?

    I feel like the people in our lives know how important they are to us, even if we don't tell them every day.

    I can honestly say that I never felt close to CS, but thinking about her journey makes me think about things that could still be affected by our actions today and in the future.

    You're a beautiful person, WannaBe, and I miss chatting with you regularly.

    ~Karibou

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  15. This was a beautiful tribute, Wan.

    Non-internet people just don't get it. But these friendships are very real. And the loss and sadness and grief is very real, too.

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  16. Thank you for putting these thoughts out there. I've been struggling to not feel insane for grieving this loss. She was too smart, too funny, and way too young to die and the world is a littler darker this week without her.

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  17. I'm really sorry you had to go through this. I know how close you can get to other girls on the Nest/Knot, because I have too. I can't imagine losing one of them. :hugs:

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  18. Of course she felt the same.

    As do I.

    <3

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  19. Oh my goodness, my heart is just aching for you. My heart is aching for your friend's family and loved ones. I am so sorry.

    If I were in your shoes I'd totally feel the same guilt, but I guarantee you that she knows how much she meant to you and what a wonderful friend you were.

    And yeah, internet friends rule. :::hugs:::

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  20. I'm so sorry...some of my dearest friends are my "imaginary internet friends" (as I like to call them) and I would be devastated if I were in your shoes. (((hugs)))

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  21. I'm really sorry for your loss, Wan. <3

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