The Internet is a strange thing. We are so connected. We are truly global creatures now owning the world from a small screen. We reach out and touch lives of complete strangers.

In our RL realm, we meet many people every single day who are also strangers. Some we interact with for the briefest of moments – either flipping them off as they drive erratically or smiling at them as we pass in the aisle of the stores. Sometimes we stop and truly interact. We might chat a bit as we wait in line or schmooze a bit at a party.

Then there are people we see constantly and develop a relationship with, even if it is superficial. I know most of the people in the office building and a few of their names. I smile and speak with them as we pass in the hall or as we mill about for our yearly fire alarm when the first person starts up the heat.

Then we have friends who we spend more time with and care about and interact with on an even more frequent basis. Some of the people we see constantly and interact with all the time never become friends for a variety of reasons. Many of the people I’ve worked with over the years have, however, become friends – at least we could enjoy the time we were in each other’s company while we slaved away at our jobs. Sometimes hierarchy gets in the way. Some of the surgeons I worked with were friendly and all, but we were never going to be friends although we were friendly cquaintances.

Then there are good friends. Some of these are created by circumstances. I’ve usually been able to become good friends with my neighbors. Since I’ve moved a few times, I know this is true since I’m still friends with them on Facebook. These are the people you can lean on in times in of need and they will support you – even from a distance.

Some people you like so much they become your family. I have two sisters and two sons and they are mine by genetics. I have a much larger family and they are mine by choice.

But the Internet has changed things. I have friends I have never met. I have friends whose names aren’t even known to me. I have friends I laugh with, joke with, tell stories to, listen to their stories, commiserate with them in their hours of need, worry about them, care about them – and I have no idea who they are and wouldn’t recognize them if they were standing in front of me.

I was minding my own business yesterday, whining about my ouchie knee, bringing Frankie up here for the weekend, doing lots of nothing … and the Internet got in my way and hurt my heart.

After Frankie went to be, I signed on to Facebook and tried to catch up with the day that had just zoomed past. I saw a post from Brian and immediately switched over to my writers’ forum.

I have never met Skip, of course. He moved from Arizona to Georgia (I think) in the time that I knew him. We would have met in December 2008 when he joined MWC. He and Bunny and their family were much of his conversational topic. He loved them all and would do anything for the grandbabies – who knew? He wrote and published his first book and was happy with the results. He was a kind and humble man.

And yesterday morning, he had a heart attack and died. Just like that. Totally unexpected, at least by all of us at MWC who knew him, he was gone. Some dear person in his family who knew how much writing meant to him, could access his account and let us know what had happened. The entire community is stunned. He was one of the Moderators and so many people were familiar with him. He cared so much about getting it right with his writing. He did other creative things as well – a Renaissance Man.

I’m saddened by his loss and I never met the man. My condolences to Bunny, their children, and grandchildren.

Isn’t it odd … the lives we touch …