I’ve met a lot of people online that I’ve never seen face to face. For years, I wrote on product review site called Epinions.com. I met a lot of great people on that site and made about $12,000 reviewing stuff over the course of about eleven years. I was sad when Epinions crashed a few years ago, even though things had been going downhill for a long time and writing there was less fun than it once was. I had great memories of successful reviews, funny exchanges, great parties, and even the odd Internet drama.
In the wake of Epinions’ demise, I gained a bunch of Facebook friends in the form of ex Epinions writers. Several of those people have since died. Quite a few have had cancer, although I can think of one who died of extreme old age, like Granniemose (Virginia Kiraly). I still see her comments on old Facebook posts from years ago. They always make me smile, since she was in her 90s and still sharp as a tack.
The ones who have died of cancer have been quite young. The most recent death was that of Steve Murray, a gay academic who wrote wonderful reviews of books, movies, and music, and once gave me a hard time because I panned Shirley Jones’ sleazy life story. Steve was a fan of Ms. Jones’s and praised her acting and singing abilities. I have no doubt she is a very talented performer, but her book had excerpts about how she and her ex husband, Jack Cassidy, once went swinging with Joan Collins (I got an early copy that still had that bit in it– she was later court ordered to remove it). She also included commentary on the size of her sons’ and David Cassidy’s penises. Apparently, being well-endowed was a “gift” from Jack Cassidy. While I was kind of amused by the revelation, I still thought mentioning it in the book was kind of tacky and said so in my review. Steve thought I was too “hard” (heh heh) on Shirley for that and told me so in an annoying comment. Aside from that, we got along fine.
Steve died at the end of August. He had large B cell lymphoma. I read in his blog that he was going to exit by way of a physician assisted suicide. He’d had a last ditch bone marrow transplant and it failed, so there was nothing more to do than wait for the inevitable. He was gone at the end of August, like our sweet beagle, Zane was. Zane died of lymphoma, too.
Yesterday, I read the news that a much beloved Epinionator, Erin McCarty, is nearing the end of a long, arduous journey with ovarian cancer, which was discovered in November 2016. Erin was known as bilbopooh on Epinions. She’s a gifted writer who has a very sunny, sweet disposition, despite having a really rough time of things, especially in the past few years. A couple of years ago, she lost her friend, Beth (also on Epinions) to a brain tumor. She also lost her mother, Corinne, to ovarian cancer. Her husband, Will, died in July of this year, although I’m not sure what ended his life. I know he had a lot of health problems and spent a lot of time living in nursing homes. Erin had planned to have a memorial for Will, but was unable to make it happen before she was herself in the hospital.
Erin’s father, Ron, has been updating everyone on social media about his daughter’s situation. She’s only in her 30s, but has touched so many people. I’ve read so many heartfelt, loving tributes to her, even though she’s not yet gone. Yesterday, Erin’s dad wrote that they had planned to start chemotherapy, but she’s too ill to receive it now and likely would never again be well enough that chemo would do anything more than make her sicker. Erin’s dad says that she’s in the end stages of cancer, and may not be around for much longer. As difficult as this is for Erin, I can only imagine what her father is going through right now. That man has experienced so much loss in such a short amount of time. I’m offering prayers for Erin, but I’ve also said a few for Ron. He must be overwhelmed.
I remember I had a Facebook friend some time ago who knew Erin McCarty personally. His daughter had worked with me at a Presbyterian church camp in 1993. I hadn’t seen or communicated with his daughter, whose name is also Erin, since we finished working at the camp, but for awhile, her dad was Facebook friends with me, solely because Erin McCarty was a friend, too. He said I must be alright if I was friends with “wonderful” Erin McCarty. Of course, I don’t think Erin ever met an enemy. She seems to be a bright light in many people’s lives, which I know is a very rare quality in a person. I know Erin is a woman of strong Christian faith, which I’m sure is very comforting for her.
The capacity to touch people is so much greater now, since we have the Internet. I know I’ve affected people I don’t know and will never meet, simply due to things I’ve written. While I know not everyone is “blessed” by my writing, I also know some people have found value in it. When I’m feeling low or worthless, I remember those who have had good things to say about what I do. I remember people like Steve, Virginia, and Erin, who have healed, entertained, and educated so many people through writing. I don’t pretend to be nearly as special or talented as they are, or were… this is just my little corner of the Web. I know some people like coming here and return every day, even when I’m in a cranky mood. Of course, some come here because they want to trash me. Such is life. We’re all humans, and most of us aren’t as genuinely lovely, sunny, and awesome as Erin is. But when I find someone who is so genuinely wonderful, yet gets so sick with a horrible disease like cancer, it does tend to make me wonder if maybe there’s truth in the old saying, “only the good die young.”
Well… I don’t know what else I can write about this. Maybe reading the many tributes to Erin as she faces the end of her cancer journey is a valuable reminder to be a better person. And for those who don’t know her, I can help spread the light by writing about her on my blog. I don’t claim to be particularly enlightened or wise, but I do know something special when I see it. And I think Erin is extraordinarily special. I hope the time she has left is peaceful, serene, and as comfortable as possible.
Edited to add: Erin passed away on October 22, 2019 after one last Facebook post in which she encouraged those who wanted to meet her to make the trip “soon”. I am sure her loved ones are heartbroken, but I take some comfort in knowing that her pain and suffering is over… and maybe she is reunited with those who made the journey before her.