A little over a week ago I learned an online friend Elaine Banno, passed away. A post from her sister on Lainey’s Facebook page is how the news was broken to us. Actually, that is not quite accurate. Those who got the news first could not believe it, thus a couple of hours of has anyone heard from Lainey? type posts happened on her page before the inevitable truth was accepted. Through our various groups we had a general sense of where we stood physically, emotionally etc, still she and I had not “conversed” one-on-one in a long while. I had come to her page that day to message her, to say “hi” ask about the blog she had not posted in a long while. That is how I learned the news of her passing. I read through over forty-eight hours of posts (from her last post to the time I came in) on her wall in disbelief.
Lainey was not the first death I’ve gone through on social media. However, she is/was the first of someone I cared for, yet had never met in person. This odd global village that is the internet indeed makes strange bedfellows and friends. Having “met” in an online forum and being mutual members of various online groups since, our quick wit, combined with rapier tongues made us fast buddies. Hers is a voice and a beauty uniquely her own. That’s not to say we did not have our disagreements – oh we did and the private messaging that went on behind the scenes between us were doozies at times – still whether we came to agree to disagree or have a mutual understanding after considering one or the other’s viewpoint, unlike most tenuous online relationships we always came away still speaking.
Another mutual friend created a Remembering memorial type page for those of us who want to honor, remember and grieve for her away from the family nonsense that tends to flare up during such times. I’ve barely been able to browse through it, only popping in once of twice to peruse the posts. I have perused posts on her blog and in other places to read her words. I also done so with this blog where I remembered she responded the posts, just to read her words and “hear” her voice again. I feel her loss, I really do. Yet not enough to try to make arrangements to attend her funeral. I thought about it. I considered who I could ask to get to and from the various points it would take to do so. It would not have been easy for me to arrange, but not impossible. Yet I chose not to and feel just a small sense of guilt because of it.
In this techy age we have never Skyed or Facetimed. To my semi-defense, I don’t Skype or Facetime with anyone else either, but I could – perhaps should, yet I haven’t so far. All of the interactions between Lainey and I have solely been online, either through direct emails or the various groups we both where we were both members. We have exchanged gifts and cards. We have laughed and cried. We have checked each other. We have encouraged each other. We have shared secrets and gossip. Aren’t these the basic things that most friends do? Yet we have never hugged. We have never shook hands. We have never broke bread together. Then again, we have never truly tied to always thinking on that someday. Perhaps it is those missing links in our connection that is the invisible barometer of where I was not comfortable/willing to make the extra effort to give her my personal good-bye, I do not know. As I tried to explain to a good friend who, like I, is also taken aback by Elaine’s passing in her own way, it’s an odd sense of limbo.
The Beatles Penny Lane popped up on my iPod this morning. It is listed among the classics of “misheard lyrics” of its time and now. Even though I know the correct lyrics, I still thought “And Elaine is in my ears and in my eyes…” which for the past few days very much holds true because I do miss you Lainey. It’s been over a week and I’m still having a hard time accepting you won’t be regaling us with tales of your cats, later on today. That we won’t have your always perfectly timed scathing snark or cracking wise or soothing encouragements. It still won’t compute.