Kathena wrote this a few months ago, it was so touching I wanted to share it here...
by Kathena Mavendorf
Every time I log in, I look at my friend’s list in hopes that you are there. The disappointment overtakes me and the pain of your absence hurts me more than I thought would be possible. It is perhaps more peculiar since you and I have never met. Behind these masks we wear, there are real hearts of real people. Many of us reveal our truest selves through our virtual visage we choose to embody.
In these long excursions through virtual worlds, we meet amazing and interesting people, who not only enhance our enjoyment of this escape, but also warm their ways into our hearts. I have been in virtual worlds since 2008. Through these long years I’ve had the pleasure of building lasting relationships with some of the most caring, imaginative, kind and intelligent people I’ve ever had the pleasure to call friend.
In those years, I’ve talked to people through my anxiety ridden days, helped friends deal with heartache and depression and even found love. Early on, before I began to form strong bonds with my virtual friends, I would see people log off, and never return. I never gave it a second thought. Instead I thought they just decided not to play anymore and moved on without ever wondering why. Then it happened. One day a dear friend didn’t come online for our usual fun in roleplay. I thought it strange as she never missed a day. Another day passed, and then another. Finally, about two weeks later, I receive an offline message from an avatar I did not know. It was my friend’s daughter. She was following her mother’s wishes and letting all of her virtual friends know of her passing. I was crushed for the very first time.
“She never said goodbye!” That is the thought that rang out in my head. Why didn’t she at least say goodbye? I thought back at my last goodbye to her. It read “see you tomorrow.” Sadly, tomorrow never came. It made me angry and sad. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my dear friend and she was now gone. I never got to see her RL face or hold her hand. Unfortunately, this was only the first of several loses I would endure.
I met my husband in SL. He was my apprentice and was learning to be a mage from me. We spent hours every night talking. First we talked about the roleplay, then it became personal, talking about our days, our dreams, hopes and fears. A beautiful friendship developed over a period of months. Our avatars ended up married to each other in their roleplay and it was magical. When we finally met in real life, the moment our lips touched I knew I would never want another. We married three years later. Last year, after a long battle with kidney disease and diabetes, my husband laid down for a nap and never awoke. I was online at the time with friends at our roleplay and said I would be right back so I could get my husband up for his work meeting. It was hours later when I returned to my avatar. My house was filled with strangers from his office trying to help me deal with the chaos that was now my life. I was in shock. I felt so much pain that I literally became sick. I couldn’t bear the pain. I sat down at my computer and was going to log off when I realized my friend Jaekob had not left my avatar’s side. He asked if I was OK, as he knew I never would just leave. I wrote the words for the very first time. “My husband is dead.” I lost my composure and cried hysterically. He sat down next to me and virtually held my hand as I was trying desperately to keep it together. Quickly the room began to fill with many of our virtual friends.
Jaekob had told them the news and they all sat in that room with me, trying to comfort me and make me laugh. I don’t know how I would have survived those hours without these people by my side. Strangers in real life, but true friends nonetheless.
A couple of months ago, our friend Jaekob said goodnight and see you tomorrow. He was always online when I logged in as he loved being in his beloved Riverlands. The next day I logged in, but he was not around. Every day after that, my friends and I looked for signs from him. An email, a text, a notecard, anything. Not a word. I was given his real life information and conducted a search in hopes of learning what was wrong. I was never able to find any information. Two months have passed and we have lost hope of seeing him again. This wonderful friend that held my hand through the worst moment of my life was gone and I didn’t get to say goodbye.
All too often we take for granted that goodbye or goodnight means we will see you again. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. It is then left to us to figure out how to say goodbye without them present. The pain is all too real. We feel it deep in our souls. It is not virtual pain. It is REAL. We must truly mourn the loss of these people. It doesn’t matter if we only knew an avatar. They were loved. Say goodbye in your own way, but let them know they will never be forgotten. They are eternal in our hearts.
Goodbye my friends and love. I will love you always and forever. You are as real in my heart as you were in life. Safe paths, my friends. Until we meet again.