In years gone by, people could be great friends without ever actually meeting each other, by exchanging letters through the mail. Anyone could have a pen pal, and many of my friends did while we were growing up (I had a short-lived correspondent with a young man in Japan when I was in high school; his school connected with ours to help its students practice their English writing skills). I’m sure the long-time pen pals of days gone by would understand perfectly how strong a connection can be that’s sustained only by the written word. It is a mind to mind connection that does away completely with the distractions of the “package” that the mind comes in.
With the advent of online networks, the opportunity for rapid expansion of one’s circle of friends took off exponentially. I signed into CompuServe for the first time sometime in the spring of 1983, and quickly got into the swing of conversing with a wide group of acquaintances in the Forums. (It was also possible to do live chat in those days, but networks charged by the hour and I could barely afford a few hours a month online as it was.) As I moved from network to network I made more friends, and did get to meet some of them in person. Most, however, remained online only and we never even talked on the phone.
Finding a like-minded friend and ally online is something to be treasured. One of my first online friends, George Brickner, remained my friend until he died two years ago. I was privileged to meet him in person once. I still miss his “Good morning, FB and Twitterverse!” greeting every day.
Yesterday another of my long-time friends, teachers and allies died after a long struggle with multiple illnesses. We knew that he didn’t have much time left, but still, the shock was profound. John Kruszka was a bright light, especially in the Books and Writers Forum on CompuServe (and in all its predecessors as well) and it was always a joy to read his messages, whether he was dismantling some nonsense he’d seen in another message, or displaying his lovely sense of humor, or even just commenting on how he was managing, these last few months.
Even though we never met or spoke on the phone, he was my friend for nearly 20 years and it’s going to be a very different world without him.Hope you'll recommend my posts via your favorite social media. Just don't copy the material as your own.