The sky was sad and dark the day I learned my friend Gwyn Ramsey died. In fact, the sky made me think her time had come, and sent me to check her Facebook. After all, that is how we often learn personal news these days. I wasn’t surprised, since she was struggling during her eighth round of battle with breast cancer. While I mourned when she entered hospice the week before, I wrote down some thoughts to share with our writing group, Women Writing the West. This was a list I created for myself:
- Send a message to Gwyn. NOW!
- Wear a breast cancer awareness lapel pin in her honor.
- Find a way to honor this person with a donation that would make her smile.
I did not sleep well that night. At 3 a.m., I got up and wrote a message to Gwyn on a special card. It was a beautiful western scene of two people on horses in the snow, created by an artist friend. I told Gwyn that I always enjoyed our shared research and adventures, and she would always be a part of my journey. I took it to the mailbox first thing that morning. My heart was gladdened to think that it might be sent in time. The rest of the list was easy to follow. The pin was already on my jacket. Since Gwyn was our Raffle Queen, the donation that would make her smile was an antique book by Willa Cather for our WWW WILLA Literary Fund Raffle.
We learn of so much that is important in our lives through social media these days. When I saw the news that my friend passed away, I wasn’t sure whether to believe it. I waited a full day before I passed along the message, wondering if it would be confirmed, and it was. I’ve had trouble finding obituaries from other recent losses, and I wonder if obits will become a less used way to announce the end of a person’s life. This would have a large impact on later researchers who are seeking information about personal data.
When a person leaves this life, their internet presence continues. When I later checked Gwyn’s Facebook page, I learned that her husband followed her when he passed away just a couple of weeks later. In its way, the electronic age makes us less connected, but it also binds us closer to people we care about more than 1,000 miles away. Gwyn will also always be present through her books about western history adventure published by Treble Heart Books.
Joyce B. Lohse