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Coda: The Story Always Ends, or Mourning Bloggers

Minutes after I published that last post, Josh called me over to Seablue’s container and pointed out that not only was the shell still open, but the shell was empty.  Seablue was in several large oozy chunks over the sand.  Which may or may not have been a bad thing.  I mean, we were taking it to be a bad thing, but since we’re not bivalves and know very little about abra albas, we can’t be certain that this was the horror show we were imagining it to be.  Still, we sat down with the twins and had a long talk with them about pet death and pet owner responsibility.  There were many tears, but in the end, it was decided (with a strong influence from Finding Nemo) that Seablue and Milky White would return to their families in the ocean via the toilet.

The ChickieNob took the loss of her bivalve exceptionally hard.  Some people may have asked her to put it in perspective, but I think she had put the loss into her own unique perspective.  She really had fallen in love with Milky White in an extraordinarily short amount of time.  I fully believe that.  She really had thought that she’d have years with her bivalve. (Even though her brother consoled himself by saying, “Abra albas only live two years.  We have no way of knowing Seablue’s age.  I mean, his life didn’t start when he came into mine.  Therefore, I’m choosing to believe that Seablue was two and ready to die.”  Whatever helps you to sleep through the night.)  It’s funny to us, but it isn’t funny to her.

I know some people are surprised by how deeply they’re mourning the passing of Nancy.  I went through my drawers and set aside a pair of socks she sent me when I told her I wanted to be the sort who did roller derby but knew that my pacifist tendencies didn’t mesh well with the game.  It’s hard to mourn someone you know through their blog because — like Milky White — it’s not always clear-cut for those around you.  We know what mourning a family member looks like.  We know what mourning a friend looks like.  We even know what mourning someone estranged from you looks like, or the loss of a celebrity or public figure.  Yet I still don’t think we know what mourning a blogger looks like.

There are some bloggers that I know in a different way than their family members or their face-to-face friends.  They share intimate thoughts; perhaps because they know that they’ll never have to face their readers, own up to someone they only speak to via email.  Our blogs can be like confessional booths, the readers the priests on the other side of the wall granting us the absolution we need in order to keep moving through our lives, in order to keep liking ourselves.  We share such deep truths.  It is impossible to read a person’s raw reality and not have their story affect you.

Books remain on our shelves forever, taking on a life separate from their creator.  When I think about Hogwarts, I don’t think much about JK Rowling.  I think about Harry Potter.  The characters become the focus; the author secondary.  I think we sometimes transfer that character ideology to blogs, forgetting that they’re personal stories written by real people.  And real people die.  I think this because I see the way we argue with a person in their comment section, believing that it’s our right to shape their story, shape their view point.  That we’re just interacting with the character, as if we’re creating an interactive piece of fan fiction with the comment section.  But bloggers are real people.  And real people die.  I think sometimes we believe that blogs will never end; that the story will keep going indefinitely and we can jump in and out of it on our own timetable.  That’s the beauty of Google Reader — the blog waits for us; the story waits for us.  But then a blogger dies and you realize that the story doesn’t wait for us.  The story keeps going whether we’re ready for the next thoughts or not.  Because bloggers are real people.  And real people die.

Maybe I’m repeating that because I need the reminder as well.

It is strange to mourn a blogger.  You can always convince yourself that the blogger just hasn’t had time to post.  That the story will continue at a later date.  There aren’t the daily reminders that you get with the loss of a family member or a face-to-face friend.  Sometimes you need to repeat it over and over again to remember, so you don’t forget.

All I know is that words get under our skin, thoughts get under our skin.  That we change each other with every single post.

The ChickieNob had trouble sleeping last night.  She started crying again when I kissed her goodnight and she said that she knew she did the right thing by returning Milky White to the sea, but that the right thing was also the hard thing. (Please don’t disprove the plotline of Finding Nemo in this moment; not helpful.)  And then she kept saying, “I just wasn’t ready for it.  I knew it had to happen, but it makes me so sad because I just wasn’t ready for it.  I didn’t know this was going to happen.”

And maybe that is why the loss is so unnerving; it’s the suddenly.  We are mourning the suddenlies of life, that any one of our stories could grind to a halt when we least expect it.  That sometimes we don’t know it is going to happen, but we need to process the news nonetheless.  That life cannot pause for suddenlies just so you can find the time to take them in.  It feels like a carousel ride abruptly stopping, and we are thrown forward without the ability to hold on.


1 Delenn { 07.07.12 at 8:19 am }

As often happens, you have put into words what I have been feeling but could not put into words. Thank you for writing this.

2 Queenie { 07.07.12 at 9:41 am }


I was really shocked to see your post. I knew things had been tough for her since she lost her job, but didn’t see this coming. I feel horrible
for her kids.

I used to read a blog (title and name long forgotten, but you may remember) of a Catholic blogger who discovered she had cancer while pregnant with her second. It was still shocking and upsetting to me when she died, but I suspected that was coming. With Nancy, it feels more shocking because it was clear she was struggling, and I wonder what happened, if someone could have made a difference, and lastly, more selfishly, a little piece of me worries “could that be me?”

3 mrs spock { 07.07.12 at 10:17 am }

I think Queenie is talking about Emilie Lemmons Lemmondrops. I still visit Emilie’s blog. I wonder about her husband and her boys- her youngest just 2 months younger than my son. I wonder- and hope- that if a Suddenly takes me, people will think of me, and come and drop by my blog from time to time.

Nancy’s death hit me harder than expected, and I think the Suddenly was the biggest reason why. As every year passes, more people I know drop away into death, and I know, really know, that it will be my turn too. This has reminded me that I have been neglecting a few things, and we are calling a lawyer on Monday to set up our will and trust, and I find myself returning to my Buddhist mindfulness practice that I’ve neglected. Because we never know if today we will wake up, start washing our face, and then take our last breath.

4 Seriously?! { 07.07.12 at 1:50 pm }

Mel, you articulated these two stories beautifully. And I couldn’t agree more about bloggers…it is hard not to expect that the story will keep going…but then it doesn’t. ‘Real people die’.

I liken this to a friend who died suddenly across the country where I grew up. I couldn’t get home for the funeral…hence not having any real closure. 8 years later I still have a hard time ‘accepting’ that she is gone…somehow…wishing…the story would just pick up again.

Peace to Nancy and her family. She sounded like my kinda girl.

Thanks for writing this post.

5 Astral { 07.07.12 at 2:07 pm }

Mel you certainly know how to put things 🙂 I read Nancy’s blog from time to time and I always enjoyed her thoughts on things. And that she was very honest. I admired that about her. My heart goes out to her children, husband and family.
I also feel for ChickieNob and Wolvog. A pet’s passing is always hard. Especially when you are little.

6 Pam { 07.07.12 at 4:02 pm }

I’m sorry the ChickieNob is sad. The sudden passing of a loved one, pet or human, is hard at any age. My mother had to make the decision this week to put her beloved dog down because his cancer had spread. Even though she knew the end was inevitable after his mid April diagnosis, she didn’t expect it to be this soon, especially after palliative chemo treatment. Like the ChickieNob, she misses him terribly. I know that eventually the sadness will lessen for them both.

I never read Nancy’s blog but my condolences go out to her family.

7 a { 07.07.12 at 6:28 pm }

We’re never ready for suddenly. We’re never really ready for eventually. I think we would prefer it if there were never an end to things, but it must come. I guess the good thing about the blogger being a real person is that perhaps someday Nancy’s 3 little ones will be able to get a better perspective on what kind of person their mother was – through her own words. I hope her family thinks to preserve her words.

I’m sorry that Seablue didn’t make it. I hope Milky White has a long, happy life back in the sea. Or the sewer system. I hope ChickieNob can come to terms with doing the right thing quickly, so she doesn’t have to be sad anymore. (We’re a little more casual around here – my girl is forever trying to and sometimes succeeding in catching bugs, which she then wants to keep as pets. So far, we’ve had a moth, a few caterpillars, and a grasshopper. Because I am mildly compassionate to bugs, I force her to release them after a day or so. She doesn’t really seem to mind too much – I think she knows better than to get attached to bugs.)

8 Pam/Wordgirl { 07.07.12 at 9:36 pm }

Such a gorgeous post Mel.

I got an email from D/Palemother first — and it had filtered to her from Mrs.Spock. I was a friend of Nancy’s — friend enough to exchange Christmas cards and she was one of the few people who sent me a birthday card one year — a beautiful butterfly Hallmark card — from the tattooed-sleeved, roller-derby badass… we are facebook friends and I’d gotten a message from her in late May — that she was just checking in and I thought “aw, Nancy…I miss you too” and then thought I had all the time in the world to reconnect and let it slip by. When I began blogging Nancy was one of the first of a group of bloggers I fell into — and one day something came in the mail for me — a GINORMOUS box from Pottery Barn. A picture of a stack of books that she said she felt I had to have because it reminded her of me.

That was Nancy — she wanted you to know she kicked ass — and would kick your ass — but truly had the gentlest, kindest spirit of anyone I know.

I can’t believe it still. I just cannot believe it.

When we were in the throes of IF I embroidered her a roller-girl tea towel — and true to form only got it three-quarters finished before I petered out — but sent her a picture of it… I always, again, thought I had all the time in the world — a surprise package from an old friend in the mail…

Oh Nancy.



9 Kathy { 07.08.12 at 6:18 pm }

I am sorry for the ChickieNob’s/your family’s loss.

Thank you for your thoughts about Nancy’s passing/mourning bloggers. I don’t recall our paths crossing, but we seem to have had many connections in common and I am sorry I didn’t get too know her before it was too late. Sudden death is so hard to accept/make peace with, regardless of the cause. I have dealt with that a few times in recent years and it really hurts my mind, heart and soul.

Sending peace, comfort, prayers and light your way, ChickieNob’s way and to all those whose lives and hearts were touched and better for knowing Nancy.

10 loribeth { 07.08.12 at 8:18 pm }

I am so sorry to read about Nancy. 🙁 Thanks for letting us know, Mel. I was a regular reader, if not a frequent commenter. Tattoos & roller derby are so not me, and maybe that’s part of why I enjoyed reading her blog — but like so many others, I admired her faw honesty and her humour. And I feel so badly for her kids. 🙁

I was also a regular reader of Emilie & Lemmondrops. It is still in my Google reader — I can’t bear to delete it. I have often wondered how her family is doing, too.

And (((hugs))) to ChickieNob. It’s so hard to lose a pet, no matter how long you’ve had them.

11 loribeth { 07.08.12 at 8:20 pm }

That should be “raw honesty.” :p

12 Barb { 07.08.12 at 10:55 pm }

I cannot believe the title of this post. “The Story Always Ends” I’ve thought that SO many times in my life. I’m one who dwells and frets about the ending of our stories, and one who is probably a little too fatalistic and intent on understanding the fragility of life. For me, it always seemed like the story always has a sad ending. As a more mature woman, I’m trying hard to see the good that can make that sad ending satisfactory. Thanks for writing this. xo

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