We moved that friendship over to Twitter. As you see, there is a running theme with me and Twitter. Five years ago this month, my friend Di asked me to "follow" her on Twitter. We were in some of the first 500,000 users on the site. Then I met T in Boston via Twitter and she introduced me to these writers. Being a reader, I love having free stories to read all the time. I started talking to people who read the stories and joined their community.
Fast forward to meeting ALE and the story above. We started tweeting back and forth. I loved when she would share pictures of her dogs, when she would tweet pictures of her fabulous dinners at five star restaurants and her love of 70's classic rock. I am convinced she knew every 70's rock title by heart.
She and I both loved the same kind of stories. I read through her entire favorite list and loved every single one. She was always having something kind to say, never said a bad word about anyone. She was like a big sister to me often mentoring and encouraging me. She would often tell me I was beautiful, she loved when I had my picture with a smile on Twitter. She would tell me she liked the smiles.
Last fall, she got sick. At first it seemed like the flu but it quickly went south. She was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer. She was young and healthy, it just didn't seem possible. ALE was a very private person, who didn't like attention drawn to herself. For a long time, I didn't even know her real name which I later learned was hidden in her handle.
She blessed a group of us with allowing us in and sharing her journey with us via email. Often the emails would start with song titles describing how she was feeling at the time. For the past 11 months, I have been blessed to be on the journey with ALE praying for her and supporting her from afar via email. Last Christmas she gifted us with something from Life is Good. She wore a Life is Good t-shirt almost everyday and wanted us to have something. I got a brown backpack that I use for my swimming and biking.
She was one of the people to deem me a Pollyanna. She would often say that when I would email her positive thoughts about kicking this cancer to the curb. I changed my bi-line for her a few months back. She was a faithful reader of my blog.
This summer, I tried to meet up with her while we were at Sea World but alas that week began hell for her. It wasn't meant to be, we had talked on the phone but never got the chance to meet in person. In September, she confirmed what I think many of us didn't want confirmed. We all hoped and prayed for a miracle but it wasn't meant to be.
ALE often asked us to pray that she would find a "soft place to land" a line from a poem she had shared with us last year. As this last month wore on and things got worse, we all prayed she would find her soft place.
On my birthday, she tweeted me to wish me Happy birthday. She was so selfless like that. We had once read a silly story where the main character called the other character "Kitty Boo Boo" and I had taken to calling her that as her nickname ( everyone knows I love to nickname people) so she started calling me Boo Boo Kitty. She wished me a happy birthday using that name. It turned out to be one of her very last tweets.
ALE taught me grace, humility, outlook, positivity, kindness, generousity, peace, love and joy.She handle this disease with so much class. She stayed quiet, many didn't even know. She fought so hard all the way to the very end. I learned so much from her. After she emailed to tell us that she wouldn't find her cure, I wrote her back and told her all of those things. I am thankful to have had the chance to tell her just what she meant to me. I told her that I would live everyday the rest of my life for her and live with no regrets.
This past summer, I lived without abandon and she saw that. In many ways, I had already started living for her too. I was reading my email replies to her last night, sometimes they were short and didn't say much after I started working again and traveling. I know that she knew these things and it was okay, she was happy for me.
I am so grateful to have known ALE even for a short time. She made a difference in the lives of so many and she will be greatly missed. Goodbye my Kitty Boo Boo, rest softly.
Thank you Roberta for giving me permission to write this blog. To Mary, Michelle, Dream,Perry for being there for me and letting me talk it out while respecting ALE's privacy. Also thank you to E.L. James for comforting me last week, it meant the world to me and your story that was shared was comforting.