You know, I started this blog about 8 years ago or so, along with my corresponding Twitter account. I used to write mostly about the Real Housewives franchises, and gained a small following and subscribers here. I had two small kids and spent my evenings home, so I watched quite a bit of TV while they slept. Over time, the blog evolved to include more of my adventures in motherhood, marriage, my relationship with death, crazy people, and plenty of posts where I laugh at my foibles. I spent less time on Twitter, but did manage to keep most of my followers and “Twitter friends”. One of whom, was Linda.
To be fair, I never knew her real name. I knew her by her Twitter handle. I often giggled at her posts as I scrolled through my feed on occasion. She and I saw eye to eye on a lot, and I enjoyed her posts. About a month ago, I popped onto Twitter and saw a post from her that left me unsettled. She posted that she had been diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, and it had spread into her neck and spine. My thumb stopped scrolling. I paused, and began to cry.
My mom died from lung cancer. It’s the number one killing cancer, with an estimated 200,000 people diagnosed each year and 150,000 people dying from it. It’s a beast. I have multiple friends who’s parents died from lung cancer. It is swift, cruel, and painful. I felt so heartbroken for this woman I didn’t even know in person Perhaps it was the link with losing my own mom, perhaps it was just the knowledge of how it would likely play out, but it hit me harder than I ever would have expected.
Over the next few weeks, I found and followed her blog, where she details her experiences and thoughts. I read about her doctor visits, her husband, hospice, and how she felt about all of these things. I read about how she took charge of her care, telling the doctors she wanted to do things on her own terms, and I cheered her on from my little corner of the world. I worried about how her husband would cope without her. I was relieved that she found such good care in her hospice team. I felt dismayed I hadn’t seen her blog before because her writing kept me so enthralled and entertained. I was amazed at her grace and humor even during such a difficult time. I became invested in this stranger, and I was rooting her on, dammit.
It hadn’t occurred to me that I was checking Twitter daily to make sure she was ok. I didn’t write her too much but I was rooting for her from afar. Last night as I wearily crawled into bed, I suddenly realized I hadn’t checked on her all day. I hit my Twitter app, looked up her name, only to see a sweet post from her husband that she had passed away. I paused, and then broke down in tears. How do you ugly cry for a stranger you’ve never met? It’s funny how people have a way, even through just Twitter, to impact your life in a positive way. Maybe it’s the way you relate to them on some level, maybe it’s that they make you laugh or feel something deeply. Whatever it is, Linda struck a cord with me. She brightened the days with her frank humor and she handled the toughest of moments with grace, honesty, and a good old laugh.
I’m going to miss her, and if her timeline is any indication, you can see the wealth of people posting love, tributes and prayers for her. One person can make an awfully big ripple in this big pond called life. Thank you, Linda, for all the laughs you gave me, for the strength you showed me, and for posting a picture of yourself so we could see the beautiful face behind it all. Thanks for creating a ripple that reached me, and let me into your life a little bit, because I am better for it.
We were all better for knowing her, even if we didn’t know her well behind the screen.