It still seems surreal. She was here and then she wasn’t. It seems I was in one universe and have suddenly moved to a different one -- a poorer one, and permanently, with no way back. I never had sisters, but now I know how it would feel to lose one. Because I have.
I know this is real because it hurts too much not to be. And yet, it’s still surreal and jarring in many ways. I log on to the chat room, fully expecting her to be there; but she isn’t. I come across a pithy comment in a discussion post, or something interesting in an article or book, and think, “I’ve got to tell pup about this” — and I can’t. Someone in the chat room needs help or maybe just reassurance, and I know that Barbara will know just the right thing to say. Only she isn’t there to say it.
I never ceased to marvel at her assurance and skill when dealing with someone in trouble, either physically or emotionally. When a difficult situation arises in the chat room, my automatic reflex is to think, “how would pup handle this?” And I let that guide me, although I know I will never be half as good at it. You stretch to do the best you can.
Of course the loss hurts, but I can’t stop thinking about the funny moments too. Like the way we would laugh ourselves silly competing to see who could dream up the worst pun. Or the time she hacked the site in order to ban the name of a certain food item (beginning with “c”) from the chat room. Or the time I pointed out that she was named after my junior high (Bancroft Middle School). Or the way she never let me forget that I was 39 days older. Or her exaggerated “concern” for a certain tuD member who is always signed on but has never been known to communicate with anyone, ever . . .
I will miss you, pup. I will miss trading recipes, and our discussions of cooking and the hundred and one uses of spaghetti squash. I will miss the times one of us would ask the other for a PM so we could rant to someone who would just listen and get it. [That was typical of you: when you had something to air, you never did it where others had to watch. The public you was always positive. Always.]
Always and most of all, I will miss you.
You had as much empathy as anyone I’ve known. You also had a wicked wit and gave as good as you got, yet I can’t count the times you forbore to respond to a snarky comment because to do so simply would not have served any good purpose.
Almost from the first, it was Barbara who pushed and prodded me to become more involved with tuD, in various ways. She leaves us with an enormous debt that can only be paid forward.
Barbara, we knew each other for less than two years and I am immeasurably richer for the time we had. A very wise man we both knew once said that after the basic needs of life are handled, the thing people want most is to make a difference. You were a living example of that. You left everything -- people, places, communities -- better than you found them.
I pray you are at peace and reunited with your best friend. And I hope you’ll keep a watchful eye on the community you loved so much, and served so devotedly. We miss you. We always will.