I have lived a life online for a long time. I'm sure many of you know what I mean by "living a life online". What was once the preserves of the "geeks" is now the norm for many of us. Who isn't a bit of a geek these days? It's not unusual to have your own website and at least know some basic HTML.
My first "life online" was all down to my obsession with The Rocky Horror Show. Always a bit of an obsessive fangirl, when I saw Rocky Horror for the first time aged 16 I was obsessed. The year was 1998. We had just got dial up at home and my school had also just got connected. The Internet was proving quite the place for geeks and obsessives to hang out "together" and I discovered some forums and websites dedicated to Rocky. I was in my element. My parents allowed me half an hour online in the evening. As my school had just got connected, I would head in early in the morning to hop on the computers before lessons.. My group of friends were quite the geek collective. One was obsessed with Neil Finn/Crowded House/Split Enz and another with The Matrix. We had charmed a teacher into giving us the key for the Geography block I.T. room each lunchtime so we were always in there, tapping away, living our online life, making friends we might never meet in the flesh. These bonds we made were important. We might never meet the people we chatted with online, but it was such an amazing way to meet like-minded people.
In around 2006 I discovered Lush. Don't know who Lush are? You do really. Ever gone shopping and smelt a gorgeous but overpowering scent? That'll be coming from the Lush shop, the combined scents of their soaps and bath bombs. Being an obsessive person, Lush took over my life. OK, that's an exaggeration, but I got really into their products and it didn't take me long to discover their forums online and that is where I met a wonderful group of ladies. These ladies are still in my life now. We chat online most days. We know pretty much all there is to know about each other. Since we first "met" online, forums have come and gone but we've always stayed connected. There's a strong bond between us all, we truly support each other. I count these women as true friends.
Many bloggers will know what I mean, the blogging community is quite similar I feel. With our blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and more there are so many ways to get in touch. When you chat to people so frequently, they really do feel like "real friends". I know how the blogging community rallys round in hard times, helping out when someone needs help. Offering support, sending surprise gifts. Lifting spirits. This is true friendship. It's not unusual these days to live miles from family and friends. I like to think that whilst it's not quite the same as a face to face visit from a friend, these connections online are meaningful, they are genuine, and in some cases, essential and life saving.
You might be wondering just where I am going with this post. It's not something that's easy to write, but I have to. You see, one of our wonderful group of "Lush" ladies was taken from us earlier this year. Our dear friend Claire, one of the key members our group was taken by cancer. Claire was like an anchor, keeping our group together. She was always there with a wise word, with the truth, even if it wasn't what you wanted to hear. Many of us never fully understood how ill she was. I mean, we knew, but we didn't know. Or we didn't want to know. Then one day, almost all of a sudden, she was gone. Ripped from the world, ripped from our lives, from the lives of her children, husband, family and friends.
Claire has left a hole in our group. We miss her daily. As a group we have decided to walk the Bristol Race For Life in a couple of weeks. We're going to walk as a group because a) we're a huge group and b) not all of us are able to jog/run and we want to do this as a group, together.
I know, dear readers, that you get bombarded every day by people and charities asking for your money. I know budgets are tight. This is such a good cause though. We must do everything we can to prevent cancer taking more wonderful people from this world. People with so much to give. We need to donate what we can to finding a cure and to help those already suffering. Anything you can spare, 50p, £5, whatever it is, it all helps and it would mean the world to us as a group. We can't ever get Claire back. I miss her, my friends miss her. She left behind two young children and a husband and I can't even begin to imagine how much they miss her. I hate cancer. I hate that it was taken Claire and left such an gap in so many lives. Please, please, if you have anything to spare, will you consider sponsoring my friends and I? If you can, do can do so here.
Thank you for reading. Thank you from the bottom of my heart if you sponsor. It means so much.