Believe it or not, I have a lot of drafts of posts never made public. I actually have a hard time with certain topics, but ones that are different from other people's "difficult" topics. I do put out personal feelings but what I do put out there, other people would probably consider "private" and to me, it's just not. I've always been a kind of enigma in that way. Anyone that really knows me gets that. Like, being a talker, being very open, but in instances you'd think I'd want to talk ad nauseum, I become stoic almost.
I've typed and deleted more in the past twenty hours or so than I have, ever. I just don't even know what is appropriate to say. But I'm going to try. Because while money can't take away pain or loss, it is a reality that when tragedy happens, it's a lot easier to cope when you have the breathing room of not having to worry about finances. If everyone was allowed the time, space, whatever, to grieve because they didn't have to stress about bills, childcare, work, I think we'd be much more emotionally healthy as a society. Most people have no luxury to grieve whatsoever because the financials are always looming on the horizon.
Yesterday, Marie Gemmell was just home, on maternity leave, snuggling in bed with her two boys, ages one month and three years. Watching a movie like she'd promised Cole, the three year old. The unthinkable happened and piece of an AIRPLANE sliced through her home. All three of them passed away while her husband was at work and her daughter at elementary school. Just thinking of her husband and daughter and how her daughter had to even be told of this is vomit inducing.
When something this freakish happens, it seems somehow more surreal. Because she was home, where she was "supposed" to be. The odds of this type of accident happening from her perspective is slim to none. There is no rationale here. We all know on some level that any time we leave the house, it's possible for something bad to happen. We don't hole up in our homes though-- we go out and just do our thing. But if a drunk driver runs someone down, there's a concrete reason, and it happens so often, it's not as shocking. There's a clear culprit too. Someone to direct hate and anger. If someone gets shot, it's the shooter and the guns. At this point, that also happens so often, people know it happens. Even cancer, while horrific, is something that you're almost expected to know someone you know is going to end up with. But this? It just doesn't make any sense. People feel the need to make some sense out of tragedy, yet I can't imagine how anyone is going to make sense of this one. She. Was. Home. It wasn't a fire of faulty wiring or home invasion. It was purely logistical, extremely bad luck. How do you rationalize that? Everyone's life bubble just burst with this news. Because it could've been anyone. There was no preparation, no safeguarding, nothing to be done in prevention. Just a worst nightmare come true.
I "knew" Marie for around nine years. I put the word knew in quotes because we were internet friends. We were on a message board together. Most people don't understand message boards. All of us who pretty much live on message boards pretty much have the common denominator of "real life" friends and family not understanding message boards. That's kind of the beauty of it. We're the one person in our circles on them, even if we've tried to explain how awesome the community of these boards are. People not into them just don't get it. They goof, they think we're crazy to share personal information with strangers, they just aren't interested. Because of that, we have a safe space to just shoot the mundane all day and night.
We talk about what we're having for dinner, what toys to get our kids for the holidays, where to send them to camp, debating the merits & necessities of camp. Kids extracurricular activities, struggles with their friends, our friends, and co-irkers. Our crazy in-laws, our dysfunctional families. Dilemmas at work, problems with customer service, and pop culture. We've been together through planning weddings, getting married, having kids, getting cheated on, lied to, separated, divorced, dating again, remarriage, step-parenting, co-parenting, home renting, home buying, bankruptcy, loss of children, parents, siblings, and friends. Daily WWYD situations. Petty and serious vents. We debate, advise, argue, bitch & judge. There for hugs, hair-pets, and a dose of reality. Everything.
The people closest to me in real life don't know my daily customer stories, what I'm having for lunch, my beauty maintenance, something funny my kid said, or some embarrassing whatever that's happened. It's often minutiae that gets discussed in our group and then forgotten. But our group knows. Just because it's like an all day party-line. A virtual sorority. We don't have to meet in person or hang out all the time to be friends. Anyone that doesn't understand how we can all be friends without doing those things doesn't know what friendship actually means. By that rationale then, I'm not "really" friends with anyone I consider a friend, since I hardly have time to see anyone. I don't talk on the phone either, which means I "speak" to these internet friends more than I speak to anyone.
People come and go. Some are regulars, some are lurkers. Some are very open, some more private. Some won't even admit to people in their real life that they're part of a message board. Let alone for 10+ years. Sometimes we practically eat our own, so to speak. We're all of different backgrounds, ethnicities, socioeconomic levels, religions, and just different walks of life. But there are two things keep all of us connected, and what made old guard posters come back in droves yesterday, last night and today. One, NJ is somehow woven into the fabric of each of us. Started out here, stopped here along the way, or ended up here. The other thing is that when one of us gets knocked down or out, the rest of us come together like a small army. To raise money, make meals, gather supplies, give gifts- anything that can be done. That is what makes me proud to be a part of something like a "message board". Something that seems like a silly distraction to most.
Our whole board is in mourning, yet it's weird to accept personal condolences. Because it almost feels fraudulent. You don't want to be a tragedy whore in times like this. Everyone knows and/or has one or a few of those in their life. Those people who make every tragedy, every loss, about them somehow. To those close to Marie in real life, they may not have even known much or anything about her online life. They may be wondering who the hell all of us are that seem to know a lot about her and who are receiving words of condolence. I don't want to speak for anyone, but I feel comfortable saying that I hope they understand that she was one of our people and it's acceptance on behalf of our tight little long-time circle of quirky, unique, loving, internet family. Whether we just posted with her, commented on Facebook, saw her in person, or just knew her as a fellow poster but had little interaction, she was part of us. Part of us and a contributor for a LONG time.
So stop asking any and all of us, "Did you actually ever meet her in person?" as if our bond is somehow less if we didn't. It's insulting.
Marie was a funny, sweet woman. She was a loving mother, wife and friend. She had a smile like a light. If a non-regular on our board isn't sure if they remember her or doesn't remember her well, it's because she wasn't a pot stirrer, she wasn't catty, and she didn't insert herself into drama. She was just someone we knew as a devoted mom and wife who loved to talk about her kids. And that's how she will be remembered by our group, fondly and with love.
If anyone wants to donate money, there are two donations sites up that I know of set up for her husband and daughter. While their names are in the media, I'm not using them just because I don't want to add to any media scrutiny. There have been many mistakes in their "reporting", in quotes because apparently fact checking isn't a large portion of the job these days. So if false information is what keeps someone from asking intrusive questions, then so be it. False information it is.
RIP Marie and your two sweet little boys. You will be missed and never forgotten. Our crew will do our part to make sure your little girl knows how much you loved her.