You guys know my cats have blogs, and that pretty much puts me right smack dab into the middle of Crazy Cat Lady territory. In my head, Max writes his own blog entries. He writes his own books. I just type the words out for him.
Cat blogging, as funny as it sounds and as odd as it seems, got huge in the last few years. When Max started, I couldn’t find any other cat-written blogs. Afterward, I found two, Prince Muddy Paws and Timothy Dickens, but it was a while before I found anymore of them. People found Max, and began their own cat blogs. People found those people…now there are so many that I only know a relative few of them. I have nearly 300 in a newsfeed, but that’s a fraction of the cat blogs out there—and that doesn’t count the cat-oriented blogs that are written by humans about cats.
A funny thing happened while the cat blogosphere expanded. People started peeking out from behind their cat facades and began talking to each other. Sometimes in email, sometimes in texts or chat rooms, but when Facebook exploded, the people behind the cat blogs really started to connect.
You can’t convince me that real friendships cannot be developed online. You can’t convince me that people have to meet face to face in order to sincerely care about each other. I have friends—not necessarily cat bloggers—who met online, then in person, and eventually got married. I have friends who have found their BFFs online. I have made some of the best friends of my life, people in whom I have a considerable amount of trust, and I have reconnected with old friends.
Sandy, Ian (aka Murf, aka Undr), Char, Michelle (aka DKM), Roberta (mom to the Grate Jeter Harris Hizzelf)…I have come to know and love a whole bunch of people I never would have known or reconnected with if not for being online.
Being online, and being a part of the cat blogosphere, has given me some solid relationships that have endured and undoubtedly will endure. Hell, Sandy and I met on Prodigy over 20 years ago. Remember Prodigy? It was one of the first online services, with its Crayola-colored pages and black and white message boards; it was the first to usher out a web browser. It was slow and clunky, but it predated AOL and people began to connect there. It’s been gone for years, but Sandy and I are still friends. We still email each other nearly every day.
The cat blogosphere has given me Michelle and Roberta and Karen and so many other friends. By extension, it’s given me the 3 Day, and all the walking that goes with preparing for that. And that has given me back mobility I was surely losing.
So to keep beating you over the head with it…the online connections matter. They are every bit as real as friendships fostered IRL.
That realness, the very tangible emotional threads that people use to bind themselves in increasing degrees to others, has made the Cat Blogosphere a sad place this week. There is a rawness of sorrow, grief mixed with both relief and puzzlement. There have been genuine, gut-wrenching tears, as we find ourselves having to murmur “See you on the flipside” to two wonderful people.
One loss was expected, a battle against cancer hard-fought and surrounded by whispers and prayers of hope; that the end was expected didn’t diminish the profundity of sadness or volume of tears shed. She was treasured and she was loved by so many people who never had the chance to meet her face to face. Her loss will be felt for a very long time.
Another loss came like a slap in the face, a cold wet hand swung unexpectedly in the dark, the sting such a surprise that at first there was numbness, that electric tingling that blankets a person before the pain sets in. It was a loss that will forever engender questions of “Why?” and “What did we not see? What could we have done?”
I admit, I did not know either of these women well, but their passing has rocked the CB, and deeply affected people to whom I am close. I ache for them; my grief is largely for them. There are no words adequate enough to act as a salve for their wounds; there is nothing I could say or do to really lessen the pain.
I knew their cats. That seems like an odd thing to think or say out loud, but I read their blogs and developed affection for the furry kids they loved. I will not pretend my feelings sting as much as do those who knew them well, but there’s an honesty in the tears that form in a lump in my throat and the ones I try to blink back.
I hurt for my friends, for their enormous losses.
I ache for the questions that will be left unanswered.
Death by any means just sucks. It doesn’t matter if someone passes in degrees, pushing back hard against a disease that is picking away at them piece by piece. It doesn’t matter if someone dies by his or her own hand. It matters that they are gone, and there are deep, black, empty holes where their laughter and smiles should be.
It’s a pain I understand; I’ve lost too many friends over the years—IRL and online--and I can feel the losses still. That pain will always linger in the back of my mind, and when a week like this happens, when the losses are huge—even if I did not know them well—I can feel it pushing back at me. I can taste the memory of loss, the bitterness that can’t be covered with a hot drink nor spit out like a bit of bad food.
Two very wonderful women are gone in this last week; hundreds of people who never met them in person are feeling grief that is every bit as real as the grief felt by the lucky few who did.
The cat blogosphere may be a quiet place for a few days; instead of our cats chattering about the misery of having to live with people, there will be tributes to both bloggers, women who will be sorely missed. There will be worry over their families, and worry over their furballs. There will be wishes for peace and the relief from pain, and prayers offered out of genuine love and affection.
I have doubts about many things involving religion and how we perceive God and God’s love, but I have no doubt that there is something after this, something wonderful.
I also have no doubt that both women will find their way there, and there will be someone to greet them, and to offer them the warmth of a tight, loving hug.
It does not matter how you die; what matters is how you lived.
JudiBug and Jan…they lived well and were loved, and even those of us who did not get to know them well will miss them.
And you can be sure, if I know you, even “just online” and something happens, I will feel every stab of grief there is. And if I have come to treasure you—and there are so many people that I do—I will be gutted.
Please don’t die.