On Saturday night, Dark-Hunter posse member Maggie Mae Short was watching fireworks. She posted about it on Facebook. Apparently, her town had a bunch left over from the 4th of July, so they were setting them off in honor of some local event. She looked out her window, was surprised by a professional light show in rainbow colors, and shared that magical moment with us.
This morning I woke to find friends posting that Maggie Mae was gone.
I hope to be able to say a little something about this before the Hour With Sherrilyn Kenyon at Dragon*Con next Friday, but we don't always have that lovely block of time beforehand in which I can put on an impromptu Princess Alethea Preshow, so I wanted to make sure I said this here.
It is still strange to me when one of my friends passes away, but it is no longer strange for me to mourn someone I barely (or never) knew in person, but with whom I conversed online almost daily.
Being a writer is odd, in that you constantly wobble back and forth over the line from infamy to obscurity (until you're someone like Sherri or J.K. Rowling). I decided back when my friend Andre Norton passed away that I would always strive to make as many friends as possible, even if that meant crying like my heart was broken every time one left. It was worth it. It's always worth it. That was the origin of that thing I always say: Strangers are just best friends I haven't met yet.
Nobody says that authors and fans can't be friends. I'm a person. You're a person. We met because we like the same things. Seriously--I still go to Sherrilyn Kenyon book signings because they are like three-hour cocktail parties during which I meet the most fun people. I keep in touch with those people. They make me laugh with the things they say, and they stop by to leave a hug when I'm feeling down. When I feel passionate about something, they're part of the conversation. We hang out together at conventions. Sometimes we even play Words With Friends at 2am.
Some of the Dark-Hunter fans are closer to me than members of my own family. They cheer me on and inspire me from every corner of this globe. Some are new (Britany) and some are old (Lisa). Some I met simply because they recognized me and screamed "Oh my god, I love you!" in a crowded food court full of people (Sammi). Some I met because they simply showed up, with their red hair and lovely accents (Bernadette). Some I got to know because we just kept meeting at Dark-Hunter signings from the beginning of time (Marie, Kat, Dee, Afifa, Penny, Judy, Eddie...the list goes on). We make the effort to stay in touch.
Sometimes, that's all friendship is.
I can't tell you how many people in my life have said to me, "Remember me when you're famous!" and then never spoken to me again. I do remember those people. I have nightmares about them. We were closer than sisters and we don't talk anymore. I send emails and texts and get nothing in return. It's incredibly sad. People will come into your life and leave it because they choose to. There's nothing you can do about that.
But it makes us treasure the people who DO make the effort even more.
Maggie Mae was always part of my global conversation. She was pleasant and shiny (and a breath of fresh air when some people who post comments have no social skills). I am sad that she will never know what seeing her there all the time meant to me.
I know I'm not great about being on the internet. I try to comment when I can--it's like the luck of the draw if something comes across my news feed in the ten minutes I sign online to see if there are any old-world synonyms for the word "gnome." But I would like everyone who posts on my FB wall, and on my blog, and who messages me on Twitter to know that I see you there. I'm listening. I'm smiling, or laughing, or following a link you just sent me. I appreciate the hell out of you, you mean the world to me, and--above all--I consider you a friend.
It really is just that easy.
I will miss you, Maggie Mae, and I will think of your smiling face the next time my night sky lights up with pretty colors. Thank you for being my friend. xox