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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In Loving Memory Of A Beloved Friend...

There are some things that are more important than talking about pop culture tidbits. And today just happens to be one of those times in which I'll be putting the pop culture books and trivia knowledge on the backburner. Truth be told, I'm not exactly in the right frame of mind to be talking about lighthearted subjects today.

I know that we're supposed to be right smack dab in the middle of the 7 Days of Box Office Christmas, but truth be told, today I'm just not in the mood to say much about any sort of holiday movie today. I may just end up making it a six day event instead. It's probably for the best anyway, as my planned Thursday entry was sort of lame from the beginning.

So, what my new plan is for the next week is to take the entry that I was going to talk about today, push it to Thursday...cancel Thursday's entry altogether, and instead use today's entry to talk about somebody who really meant a lot to me over the last few years.

Keep in mind that this is probably a rarity at this time, as I usually try to aim to make this blog as fun and retrospective as possible. And those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that I try my best to make this site a fun place to be. So, I hope I can get back to that beginning tomorrow.  

This needs to be said today.

Growing up, I struggled with the whole process known as finding and keeping long-lasting friendships. It wasn't absolutely impossible to make friends with people, but I found it difficult to keep friendships going.

And, yes...I'll fully be the first one to admit that I am to blame for that in a lot of cases. I tended to build walls around myself, especially during those tumultuous teenage years. Which was fine in theory. My problem was that I made those walls a little too hard to break through. Whenever people would come up to me and try to initiate conversation with me, I'd look at them through guarded eyes.

Having been burned by quite a few people who I had deemed close, but later turned on me, I admit to being a little standoffish when it came to meeting new people. I always assumed that they would end up hurting me like everyone else.

And, we all know what happens when we assume things, right?

The point is that as a result of my putting up a wall around me, I ended up being a bit of a loner growing up. By the time I had entered my twenties, I was somewhat a bit on the lonely side. I didn't really have any close friends around me at the time to discuss things with, and I suppose that back in those days, my low self-esteem kept telling me that this was going to be the way that things were going to be, and I should just suck it up.

Yeah, remind me to put a sock in that one.

Back in those days, I had discovered the seemingly outdated method of communication known as the discussion board. Yes, before the days of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and MySpace, we used to do our web communication on web-based discussion forums. There was no like button, no tweeting, no Farmville...just us and our words.

It was sort of cool back in those days. We could choose a random screenname, log onto the boards, and post threads and topics about certain topics (provided they fit the criteria and guidelines of the discussion board). It was surprisingly addictive once you got into it.

(My screenname, for the record, was named after a character from Archie Comics, in case you were wondering.)

I joined a discussion group in the summer of 2001. Some of you may have already heard me bring this group up in a couple of other blog postings over the last few months, but this group was quite special to me, and it is where our story begins.

The place was called Yesterdayland. It was a board that much like this blog, focused on retro pop culture. I was immediately in heaven. Imagine a place where all of your childhood favourites were within a click of a mouse.

It took me a while to get into the swing of things, but once I did, I found that I could fit into most conversations quite easily. I found it easy to speak my piece and have opinions of my own. I also managed to develop quite a few close bonds with some of the people there.

I know what some of you must be saying. It's great to have online friends, but you're telling me that I'd probably get more out of friendships that are face-to-face. In some ways, yes. But in this case, no.

Sometimes having a friendship online is one of the best types of friendships one can possibly have. For online, you don't have to worry about people judging you for what you look like (unless you post a picture of yourself online), nor do you have to worry about what you're wearing, or how loud your voice is, or If you have bad breath, or anything trivial of that nature.

You see, when you present yourself in an online setting, unless you're one of those Internet trolls who just move from site to site creating havoc and unnecessary drama, you're basically showing people your own true self. People don't judge you by what you look like, or what labels you wear, or what kind of car you drive.

It was actually kind of nice to let go of that.

And during my time on Yesterdayland, I managed to make several friends...each of whom were special in their own way.

This blog entry is celebrating just one of these many friends.

Because I like to add a little bit of anonymity to this blog, I'll just refer to her by the screenname that she used on the board, as well as several others on the Internet.


You know, to this day, I'm not exactly sure what the meaning behind her screenname was. Nor did I ask, as I didn't think it was much business of mine. But Pierette was one of those special, special people. She always had a kind word for almost everyone who crossed her path. She was intelligent, she was strong-willed, she didn't let people walk all over her. She was one hundred per cent real as real could be.

I think it was those qualities that inspired me to form a friendship with her. At the time I joined Yesterdayland, I didn't really have many close friends in my own real world life. Not so online. In fact, in memory serves me, Pierette was one of my first friends that I made.

Also one of the longest that I had ever corresponded with online.

She was from the state of Texas. She was older than I was by approximately two and a half decades, but yet she and I clicked almost instantly. She had this wicked sense of humour that would become infectious. So many times, she would post something on Yesterdayland, and within moments, there would be dozens of responses to the thread, ranging from mild amusement to absolute hysterical laughter. I'm not afraid to admit that more often than not, I was reduced to tears over some of the things she posted online. You truly had to be there to experience it.

And during our time on Yesterdayland, we went through a lot as the world began to change around us. I joined the site in the summer of 2001, and two months later, 9/11 happened. I'll never forget how our little website soon became the source for the latest information regarding that day. How our little group of members were genuinely concerned for those living in New York and Washington D.C., hoping that they had gotten through safely. Then there was the uncertainty of 2002, where we weren't sure whether a war was going to break out or not. That whole year, everyone seemed to be on edge, and it seemed as though there was a lot of in-fighting between members. Most of us weathered the storm though, thinking that it would pass.

But then at the beginning of March, 2003, Yesterdayland was no more. The plug pulled. And all of us who were members of that community soon found ourselves without a home within the web. 

A couple of members of Yesterdayland soon got together to form one of the many spin-off groups of the board. One of which was called Memory Lane, and it was this group that Pierette and I really started to develop our close friendship.

On Memory Lane, as well as a couple of other board side projects that splintered from the ruins of Yesterdayland, Pierette and I would talk about everything and anything under the sun. I can remember more often than not coming to her with some of my problems. At the time, I was experiencing some hardships with finding a job, and I can remember her being so supportive while I was looking for work.

However, she also gave me a swift kick in the keester whenever I needed it as well. Back when I was in my early twenties, I have to say that I sort of needed an attitude check. I thought that I was the type of person who knew it all, and that I would get through it on my own. Thank goodness that attitude didn't last too long.

You want to know why? It was because of Pierette.

Pierette was the type of person who always listened to you speak without prejudice or judgment. She would let you have your say, really listen to what you were saying, and then help you with your problem as best she could. Sometimes she would be blunt (which was especially needed), while other times she would feel the same pain you felt. It didn't matter. Pierette was always there whenever you needed her.

I also have to credit Pierette as well for being a key influence in my life for helping me break out of my comfort zone. To tear down the walls that I had built around myself for years. She was so supportive and gave me so much encouragement that in a way, I believe it rubbed off on me.

That's how much of a positive influence she was in my life.

And Pierette and I went through a lot together. We both mourned the loss of a long standing member who passed away four years ago, and remembered her fondly. In fact, this sort of goes along with my earlier point about Pierette finding humour and joy in almost anything. I still remember the time when our friend who had passed on posted something about someone drinking floor wax, and for some reason Pierette just found that to be the funniest thing that she had ever heard. It was really cool to see someone who had so much laughter inside of her. While she did have her serious side at times, it was more fun to crack jokes with each other.

I mean, she was a huge fan of the LOLcats website.  I think that says it all right there just what kind of a sense of humour she had...a sense of humour that proved to be the perfect antidote to a bad day.

When the idea of a Christmas card exchange came about a few years ago, Pierette took it upon herself to organize all of the details behind it. We'd send her our addresses to her account (and believe me, for any of us to think of doing that on an online forum, you knew that she was awful trustworthy), and she'd send us all the master list, and within the Christmas season, we would all receive dozens of cards. Some cards were close to home. Others as far away as England. It really became a fun tradition for several years, and I really got joy out of getting cards from all over the world.

For the record, I have every single Christmas card that I ever received in these card exchanges. I even have about three or four cards from Pierette herself, thanking me for her friendship and love over the years.

Those are treasured memories that I will always keep inside of me.

I guess in some way, Pierette also inspired me to start up this blogging project.  Knowing that she had her own blog up and running for years, and meeting and befriending lots of people through that project, I knew that I wanted to at least attempt to start one on my own. And for the last seven months, I've managed to do exactly that. And, might I add that when I kicked off this blog, guess who was one of the biggest supporters?

You guessed it. Pierette.

So, let me say this. Anyone who tells you that an online friendship isn't real, and cannot be real is one hundred per cent dead wrong. You can have a deep and meaningful friendship with someone online, and have it last for many, many years. I know because I was lucky enough to have that true, genuine friendship with Pierette.

I was really lucky to have known Pierette. And for a while, it seemed as though that friendship would last for years to come.

So when she suddenly stopped posting one day in the fall of 2011, naturally we were all concerned. It wasn't like her to be so involved in the blogging and messageboard world, and then just cease all communications.

Sadly, we all learned that our Pierette was terminally ill, and that her prognosis wasn't good. That news hit all of us like a ton of bricks, and even a couple of days after the news broke, many of us were still trying to process what we had just heard. I know that I was one of those who tried to make sense of what had happened, and yet I just couldn't. I just couldn't.

And just two days ago, on December 19, 2011...our Pierette entered into rest. She was only fifty-three years old.

I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends that I had ever known.

And it hurt. More than anyone could ever know.

You know something? I never got the chance to meet Pierette face to face. I really wish I had gotten the opportunity to do so. I imagine that we probably would have gotten along great. We even talked about how much she loved Tim Horton's coffee when she went up North for a trip, and how we promised each other we'd meet up at a Tim Horton's one day. I even thought of the idea to send her a canister of Tim Horton's coffee to her through the mail one day. I really wish I had gone through with that plan...I think she would have gotten a kick out of it.

You know, people deal with grief their own ways...and I can't even imagine what Pierette's loved ones must be going through right now. My heart really goes out to them during this rough time. I hope that they are doing okay.

As for me, what I thought would be so difficult to put into words...ended up being a six-page tribute to a person that I called (and will always call) a friend.

Rest in peace, Pierette. I'll always miss you. I can only hope that you knew just how much of a positive influence you were to a lot of people that you never even got a chance to meet. You didn't just become a friend to were beloved by an entire group of people who knew you from a variety of online communities.

For anybody who had the pleasure of knowing you...we are all better people for knowing you. And while it's too late for me to have gotten the chance to tell you this in person, I figure that the next best thing would be to dedicate today's blog post to you.

Until we meet again, Pierette...

1 comment:

  1. Well said. I was never on Yesterdayland or Memory Lane, but when I was welcomed into Essential Space, Pierette was the first person I spoke to (aside form Laura, who invited me). She was a great person, and you said it all way better than I could. Pierette will never be far away, and we'll always remember her.