coping, death, friends, grief, healing, learning, life, memories, on closer examination

To Marilu…

I gave in to the urge to buy a home computer in 1994. I remember because my grandson was three and I bought a program just for him to use when he came to visit at Christmas that year. That I bought the computer for use at home and not at our dental office made me feel guilty. Patients had long been telling me that we needed to take the office on computer, but we were a small office and it seemed to me that there were a limited number of patients that would come through in a day and I thought we could keep up. No, the reason I bought the computer was because I read an article about the internet that said that farm wives in the midwest were connecting on the internet and exchanging recipes, and combating the isolation in their lives. Or something like that. But that’s what got to me, the idea that you could ‘meet’ people you would never have met in your life. I’m not exactly sure that I took that idea any further, just meet, and, I don’t know, exchange recipes I guess. Back then the internet was called the Information Superhighway, and I didn’t want to be left in the dust.

I think that first computer was 3600 baud (?), and although it was supposed to access the internet it didn’t. A patient upgraded the computer for me and it finally did connect, but it took a long time and an AOL search for people who expressed an interest in stenciling for me to find Marilu. Within a few short messages to each other we clicked, and we eventually emailed daily. Quick, short little, funny little, excerpts from our day. The big news stories of the day weren’t what we talked about. Entertaining each other with stories of her crazy neighbor Steve and his quirks about parking his car, or the squirrel that got trapped in the attic of my porch causing her mate to try to chew his way in, those were the subjects of our exchanges. I so looked forward to that announcement, “You’ve got mail”, every day.

Marilu taught me email etiquette by example. She was quite computer literate while I was a novice, but she was a good teacher whether she meant to be or not. I remember asking her what a blog was, and she said that the messages we sent back and forth could be considered blogging, to an audience of one. It seemed as if every funny thing that happened was funnier because even as they were happening I was planning how I’d relate it to her. Even the frustrating things that happened were fodder for emails that I tried to make entertaining. And her emails were hilarious. Our friendship spanned over 12 years, her move from AZ to CA, my move from MD to FL, her three kids’s high school and college years, the births of at least 4 of my grandchildren. retirement for me, and colon cancer for her. I can’t tell you how hard it was to know that my email box would never hold another message from her. I never heard her voice or met her face to face, but she was a very real part of my day to day life and I have missed her email presence so very much.

This blog has reminded me of the amazement I felt at the idea of connecting to people I’d never meet otherwise. The blog was created in a class I was taking, it suddenly existed out of the blue. I didn’t imagine people actually reading it, but once it was created I just couldn’t help but start writing. WordPress gives you stats of how many people read each post, how many liked it, and they keep track of how many total views your blog has had. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t peek at the stats. But the stat that is most amazing to me came the other day; the location of the readers of a particular post. Not how many readers, but where they are located, was what floored me. To think my words had traveled around the world to places I’ll never see, people I’ll never meet. Marilu would have understood the reach of the internet, but I’m still playing catch up.

My words are of no more consequence now than the messages I exchanged with Marilu were back those years ago. But it makes me happy to write them. I think I may still be writing them to Marilu…