I lost a friend two months ago.

I didn’t know I had until last week. I suspected. She wasn’t updating her blog. There were no signs of activity on her Goodreads account, her Facebook account or Instagram. She stopped commenting on my blog posts. My email to her went unanswered. (And, relevantly, she was not in the best of health.)

I finally left a comment on her last blog post, dated sometime in January, and her niece responded via email. Carol Westover, who commented here as tehachap, passed away on February 9th, 2023, after a fall on January 24th that led to a short stay in the hospital, followed by some time in a nursing facility. She leaves behind her husband, Robert, as well as two sons, and, I think, two nieces.

And, I’m quite sure, some deeply saddened internet friends.

I’m definitely one of them. I didn’t know her, not really. I met her once in real life, when I was still living in Serenity. I stopped by her house and took her out to Vietnamese food, which she’d never had before. But we exchanged emails upon occasion, she sent me recipes that she thought might interest me, and… well, I’ve been blogging for 17 years and during that time, this blog has received just over 5000 comments. Over six hundred of them were from Carol. Every single one of those comments was supportive and positive and kind.

Blogging these days is essentially writing into the void for me. An average blog post of mine gets 10 views, sometimes less, sometimes very randomly more. (The Tucson post I did from my phone with only pictures got an astounding 34 views, way outclassing anything else I’ve written in 2023, which, you know, is kinda ironic, given that there were no words attached to that post.) I’m mostly okay with writing into the void, though. It encourages me to write for myself and not worry about my audience.

Well, to write for myself and for Carol. (And Judy and Barbara and Claudia and my dad and my brother. But for the purposes of this post, Carol.) I’ve been working on this post for almost two weeks now, trying to articulate what she meant to me.

Yes, she was an internet stranger. But she was such a nice internet stranger. She was enthusiastic about so many things. In real life, she was the kind of person who baked cookies and gave them away to anyone and everyone; made quilts, ditto the giving them away; volunteered at her local train museum. When the pandemic started, she made masks and sent them to us here. She volunteered to proof-read most of my books for me, and was great at catching those last few random typos. Her husband has Alzheimer’s and she was his full-time caretaker, and her life was not easy. But she was just an authentically kind, optimistic human being.

Her last blog post ended with this: “Take good care of yourself–enjoy your life. I told Robert at dinner that I was going to spend the rest of my life enjoying life, and then I ordered Flan for dessert with everything on it!! LOL It felt good.

Each day is a blessing. Take good care of yourself and those you love. And be sure to tell those you love that you love them. Apologize when you’ve wronged someone through word or deed. There is a whole world of possibilities for gratitude–find one and think on it. Be at peace with yourself and others. Blessings to you…”

Words of wisdom from a friend. I am sorry there will be no more of them. And I guess I just needed to say that in this space, to acknowledge that she was here and now she’s not, and I will miss her. I already do.