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."