Friday, December 3, 2010

My friend

The heart ornament I featured in my previous post was made for my friend Michele. I've known Michele for almost 14 years. She passed away on Monday, after a 12-year battle with two different cancers, leaving behind her loving husband and 13-year-old daughter. I mailed the ornament to her before she died. I do hope she was lucid enough to see it and feel the love I put into it when I stitched it for her.

I know Michele from a pregnancy listserv. One wouldn't think online friendships could feel so real, but they are indeed very, very real, and I will (already do) miss her more than I can say. I think my other list moms know exactly what I mean.

Our group, which is still together today, was founded in the winter of 1997, when a bunch of newly-pregnant women ventured forth onto the Internet and somehow found a listserv devoted to pregnant women who were due in September that year. None of us knew each other. We came from all different walks of life, from all over the world. We jumped right in, introduced ourselves, gave our real names--including last names!--pinpointed our precise locations on this planet, and started discussing Things right away.

Michele was one of those moms, so willing to share so much of herself. She was one of our more prolific posters, and I found her quite entertaining, warm, and helpful. If you needed a recipe, she had one. If you needed a product review, she probably had the item in question and could give you excellent feedback. If you were having a bad day, she'd say something that made you recognize there had been good parts to the day.


She was so honest and open about her life, sharing with us the good, the bad, the hopeful, the heart-breaking. You would think with all she had to deal with that she would retreat into her own problems and stop worrying about the rest of us, but she continued to be an active participant in our group. I could post about the silliest little problem, and she would treat it as if it were the most important thing. And the times my problems weren't so silly, when they were very real and very horrible, she offered true wisdom and true strength, both by what she said, and by the example she set with how she lived her own life.

When she went into hospice at the beginning of November, we were devastated. What could we do to show this woman how much she meant to us, and how much we love her? One mom came up with the brilliant idea of sending her a table-top Christmas tree, and we each sent an ornament to decorate the tree. The heart was my contribution. She gave all of us so much, just by being. I hope she knew, not just in the end, but all along, what she meant to us.