I'd never met Sue. Like so many of my writer 'friends', I knew her only online. She and I had been members of the same online writing community years ago. We got closer, writing wise at least, when we did a writing project together. It was Sue's idea--let's take a single premise, sketch out a couple of characters, and throw in a few odd facts and then retreat to our garrets. We'll each come up with a novella length story. Three of us took up her challenge. My take led to "The Whisper of Time" a novella-length story I never would have written but for Sue's bright idea. Sue wrote a horror story, Heway House, which was published after she developed it into a full length novel. We'd kept in touch since then, each of us writing and publishing with small publishers.
There are quite a few people from what many of us now call 'the old place' that I would call online friends. They've often helped me along the way of my writing journey. Like real friends, they offer support for my work as I offer support for theirs. We've share some of our joys and sorrows over the years, too. But the truth is I don't really know them. They tell me, and others, only what they want known. I'm not being critical here, I do the same. Real, in deep personal stuff is often too raw to be shared online. I'm lucky to have a great group of real life friends and a very supportive husband for the deep dives. Online, you can never know the heights of someone's joy, or the depths of their personal despair.
A few weeks ago, Sue took her own life. I remember her, and will always remember her, as a kind and gentle spirit, always ready with an encouraging word, always willing to help out her fellow writers in any way she could. And, even though I never knew her, not truly, not really, she leaves an empty space behind--one of the candles that lights the way down my path has been extinguished. I wish I'd known her better. I wish I could have been a better friend, a real life friend. Maybe it would have changed nothing. But I wish for it, none the less.