I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

Blogs Can Give You A Fright!

This is not a pleasant story, but I want to share it with you to illustrate how this whole blog thing can end up meaning much more to us than perhaps we imagine.

About 18 months ago, before I launched my own blog, I was a regular visitor to a specialist blog - in fact, more of a website in the form of a blog - on a subject I'd taken an interest in. I visited about three or four times a week, becoming strangely addicted, connecting with the humour and the "personality" of the author. It became cosy. I was happy to follow the threads and the insight into the author and the subject she was shedding light on. I was impressed by the research this person was undertaking, saving the rest of us from doing some horrible, difficult digging. I thought it was incredible that this person could devote so much of her time to collating such valuable information. I was attached to someone I'd never met.

Six months later something strange happened: the blog seemed to freeze. It didn't change, except for the list of comments on the last post. There were no more updates. Regular readers like me kept returning, but kept finding the same post. I left a comment to ask "where are you?" and to enquire whether the author had managed to find the answer to a question I had asked. Two weeks passed. The comments dropped off. I sent an email to the address in the contacts. There was no reply. I didn't have any other contact information, not even a name, just a login name that began with numbers.

Another month went by and I genuinely became worried about the author. I wondered what had happened. What was going on? If she'd decided to give up the blog, surely she would've said so. How can someone write a post every day for years and then suddenly abandon everything with no explanation. There was no way of getting any answers.

Two more months went by and I popped in to the site out of curiosity, expecting to see the same tired post from two months earlier. I was absolutely shocked to read a new post, not written by the author but by her 15-year-old daughter. It said:

"I am sorry to announce here that XXXXXXX, my mum, has passed away. Sorry I could not let you know earlier, but I didn't even realise she had this web. I am very sad to find this out about her and I am reading everything now, right back to 2002!? I found mum's log and password in her diary that was secret, and not even her closest friends have known about this. Sorry to have to tell you this bad news. We had a lovely funeral in XXXXXXX but I wish we might have talked about this web. What hurts me as well is that many people had sent my mum some awful emails about XXXXXXX and the amazing work she was doing. You know who you are. I hope you are happy. Thank you to everyone else who made my mum happy in some terrible period in her life."

I think I almost cried, putting myself in the shoes of this poor teenager, discovering the blog that her mother had laboured over and loved. She was right to say how sad it was that her family and friends didn't see the passion she had for her blog. The website, in Canada, has since been taken down. It still makes me sad to think about that mother and daughter. I also would've liked to have known more about her and her final days. It's one of life's cruel lessons.

I think I am going to make a point of noting down my login and password somewhere obvious, so my partner has the chance to explain things should I ever be unable to continue adding posts to my blog. I am also glad to say that I do rave about my blog at home! "Look at what I've just put up," I say. "And look at those lovely reactions from all of those lovely people."

17 comments:

skint writer said...

moving post Shameless

Shameless said...

I try not to feel nervous when I see blogs left unattended for ages!

Cath J said...

That 'missing' thing - I've been feeling a bit that way about Verilion. I do hope she returns soon.

I much enjoyed your "drinks at number 17", Shameless. It has to be worth a sequel. What happens next?!

PS: Could your protagonist be a mature Holly Golightly, do you think? Now there's a story!

Shameless said...

Cath, I hadn't thought of that connection ... Hepburn clouds over my mind though! Someone told me today that they liked the poem because it was like a cross between a digested read of a novel or novella and a poem. Is that a compliment? Well, they liked it, so that's all that matters I suppose. Nice to have you visit, Cath. Call by anytime.

Shameless said...

And it's true! Where is Verilion. Has she got caught up in a battle with France Telecom? Hello?

Anonymous said...

I can understand a need to keep a blog private and away from those closest to you. Mine was like my own personal oasis, a retreat of sorts, somewhere that was mine and mine alone.
I felt utterly sad to read your post Shameless. I don't like secrets and I am glad now that a)the family know what I get up to and b) that the MD also blogs. My books are still mine though!

Don't worry about V. I have exchanged a few emails - she is struggling with net wrangles and work! Glad she has got email!

Shameless said...

I'm glad to hear about V, Minx. Ahhhhh, the whole secrets and personal spaces thing ... that could take up several posts!

zorak163 said...

I've had similar anxieties when my favorite blogs go several days without updates. Fortunately nothing this extreme has ever been the reason. Thank you for sharing this sad but timely story.

Anonymous said...

I am so attached to my blog that I can't imagine just walking away so I am always thinking something awful has happened to someone if they stop writing. For example, I came across a blog today where the poster was detailing her affair with a married man and she'd decided to break it off with him on Thanksgiving '05. She didn't post again so I was left wondering...what happened? My wild imagination had me thinking the guy was actually a psycho and did something to her once she decided to end things. I'm sure it was something completely innocent, like she broke up with the guy and so decided to end the blog. It's the not knowing that drives me crazy though.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I've actually done that. Kind of morbid to think about, but I think it's an important thing for regular bloggers to do.

Really touching post, thanks for sharing it.

Shameless said...

Welcome Liz and Zorak! Some blogs are like soaps, and we just have to know what happens next. A big silence is torture, and hopefully people don't do it without a good reason. Julia, glad to hear it's not only me who has thought about this, not that we should get too morbid though!

Shameless said...

By the way, hope you don't mind that I've linked to you both, Zorak and Liz. The more the merrier!

Lorainne said...

Really sad story - good that the daughter had something so personal to remember her Mum by.

Shameless said...

Hi Lorraine, it is a shame the site came down, but I guess it was the mother's own .com from what I can gather, not a blogger type site. I certainly hope her daughter was able to at least print off or save stuff to disc. There was years of rich material that she could cherish! And her work was only half done. I do wonder now if she had been sick all along, but never said anything. Very sad.

Shameless said...

Oops, sorry, typical journalist for you .. make that Lorainne!

cate sweeney said...

Oh don't be sad, be glad she got a lot of enjoyment from her blog and you were, I imagine, one of the people who made blogland a nice place to be for her, rather than one of the nasty ones who need to get a life!
Cate

Shameless said...

she said I had made her day on a number of occasions, so I suppose that's a nice thing to remember.