Last week was a tough week for me. On Sunday night, my friend Sherry passed away suddenly in her sleep. I had met her at Barkus, a Mardi Gras parade, but I had gotten to know her after that through social media. If you follow us on Facebook, you’ve likely seen Sherry or her dog, Maximilian, post on our timeline.
The other tough part of last week is one that hits a lot of us hard: the death of Terry, who blogged over at Spearfruit. Terry’s death was expected—we all, including Terry, knew that it was coming, even if we didn’t know exactly when it would happen.
I don’t remember when Terry and I started following each other’s lives through our blogs, except that it was before he and Gary, his husband, sold their house in anticipation of moving into the RV and traveling the country. Through our blogs and our discussions, I got to know Terry—not as much as some of you, but enough that I considered him a friend. We chatted about our dogs, music, our lives, and anything you would talk about with a friend. I looked forward to visiting Terry’s blog every morning and seeing what part of his life he shared with us that day, whether it was his Boogie Blogging or something about the tough times he went through when he was younger. When Terry got his cancer diagnosis and it derailed his and Gary’s travel plans, we talked about it through blog comments, and I hope I offered him some comfort as that cancer progressed over this last year.
As Terry got sick, I would talk to people in my everyday life about my “blogging friend” and what he was going through. I heard myself talk about my “blogging friend” and could hear them discounting that friendship as soon as they realized I only knew this person I was talking about from our online lives. It upset me, because this was someone I cared deeply about.
But, then again, wasn’t I discounting that friendship, too? By calling Terry a “blogging friend,” I was separating him from those who I would just call “friend,” without any qualification. He became, if you will, a hyphenated friend.
Once I realized I was doing this, I started hearing myself qualifying my friendships with all sorts of people who I knew solely from my blogging. Everyone was my “blogging friend” when I discussed something I had learned from him or her. I did this, even though these were people I talked to via our blogs every day, and had talked to every day for years in some cases. These “blogging friends” were people whose kids I had seen growing up, who had offered me advice, whose trials I had cried over, and who had put up with literally hundreds of pictures of Choppy from me.
But when I talked about these people with my “real friends”—the friends who I met and got to know in person—I would always call them my “blogging friends,” as if they were something less than “real friends” and required a qualifier to denote this.
But you know what? My “blogging friends” don’t need a qualifier. You are “real friends,” and I should stop acting like you aren’t. It discounts those of you who have been loyal friends, sometimes for weeks, sometimes for years. It discounts you, both in my eyes, and in the eyes of those who hear me call you a “blogging friend,” and I don’t want to do that any longer.
From now on, when I relate something one of you said, I will discuss what my friend said. Or the advice my friend gave me on traveling. Or the funny thing my friend’s grandchild said last week.
Or that on Friday, my friend Terry passed away.
No qualifications. No hyphens.
Because Terry was not a “blogging friend.” Terry was just a friend. And I miss him.