Is it possible to love someone you've only "met" through the internet? I'm not talking about internet matchmaking or e-dating. I'm talking about learning to love someone who doesn't even know you exist, except for comments left for her to read. For the past several months, I have faithfully read the blog of a woman named Michelle, a young mother of two children, former university professor at UNC. "Former", because she has been fighting a debilitating, terminal illness called scleroderma. You may have read an earlier post by me describing her blog. If not, you can find it here.
Upon checking her blog for today's entry, I was very saddened to read that her journey ended yesterday afternoon. Sad for very selfish reasons. You see, I have indeed come to love this woman. As a mother, I cannot imagine how horrible it would be to know that you are dying and will leave your children motherless. I remember when Whitney was a little over a year old, finding a lump in my neck and the suffocating fear that I would die. Not because I am afraid of death. I don't WANT to die just yet, but I do not fear it. No, the suffocation that I felt was not my leaving my family, but that my child would never know me, nor the depth of my love for her. Thankfully, obviously, the lump was nothing with which to be concerned, but it took nine different physician opinions to finally convince me of that. At any rate, the thought of dying and leaving one's children motherless has to be one of the most frightening things I (and probably many mothers) have ever experienced.
Michelle has known for a very long time that she would die. She was a professor of public health at UNC, and her husband a physician, so their clinical knowledge of what she was facing was both helpful and discouraging, I would imagine. She decided to keep a blog/journal of her recollections of her childhood, her life's journey through college, marriage, diagnosis of her illness, motherhood, and finally the debilitating part of the disease and the suffering of the latter days. It is not morbid, as one would think. Her writing is very inspiring, often hilarious, sometimes of course sad, thought-provoking, and in general makes me want to be a better person. Most people just go through life "existing" from one day to the next. We are so wrapped up in our own worlds that sadly, when we leave this earth, it is only those within our own world that will miss us or even know we were here. Not so with Michelle. There have been so many "strangers" who have written beautiful comments on her blog, that it is easy to see that her words, her life, her experiences and her willingness to share herself so openly have indeed touched the "worlds" of many, many people. As I stated in my original post about her, her language is sometimes strong, and it is difficult to tell where her religious thoughts go sometimes, but if one can see above the differences in her life and one's own, the blog is an absolute life-changer. I know it rocked my world. I am happy to see that her husband is going to keep the blog up, as many people will continue to discover it even after her death. It is unbelievable how she tried to prepare her family for the inevitable, and she went so far as to create treasure boxes for each of her children with special things to remember her by. She purchased and wrapped gifts, (including cards with letters/notes inside) for special occasions such as birthdays, to be opened at the proper times. She created a slideshow for her funeral. She wrote a goodbye message to be read at her funeral, which will be posted on the blog after the service on Thursday. So many things she did to make it easier for her family after she was gone. I promise you, if you want to be inspired, if you want to learn how, not to DIE, but to LIVE, then check out this blog. You will laugh, and you will cry. And you will read of courage, strength and a mother's love so strong it will amaze you. Yes, it is possible to love someone you only "know" through the internet. Though I am happy that she is now at peace, I loved her, and I will miss her.
If you would like to meet one of my heros, visit her blog, Diary of A Dying Mom.