One of the most satisfying -- and sometimes vulnerable -- consequences about working online is that your professional and personal lives often intersect. Much of my career is online, as an editor and writer -- and this week my professional and the personal collided hard.
In 2006, I became a columns editor at Literary Mama with the candid author Heidi Raykeil.
When Heidi and I first got on board at Literary Mama, we talked about our desire to bring in columnists from every parenting sphere in the world. That's how we "met" Vicki Forman.
We were thrilled to publish Vicki's powerful, honest columns about raising her special-needs son, Evan. I even found out this month -- when I met Vicki in person for the first time at BlogHer -- that Heidi and I were the first editors to publish her writing about Evan. I felt beyond honored when she told me this.
It was such a thrill to watch Vicki signing copies of the anthology Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs, edited by Suzanne Kamata, at BlogHer. Her essay about Evan is the first piece in the anthology.
A little more than a week after BlogHer, Evan had a stomach ache. Vicki had written extensively about his health issues. She took him to the doctor, and it appeared that his kidneys were failing. Evan Kamida passed away on July 24, just a few days shy of his 8th birthday
Thousands of parents around the world have been touched by Evan through his mother's writing. I'm not the only one who felt like I knew him.
At BlogHer, Jennifer Graf Groneberg --- author of Road Map to Holland -- was signing books next to Vicki. These two writers, both moms of special needs kids, had had a 10-year online friendship -- and this was the first time they'd met in person.
"Meeting her in person made Evan's death harder, and easier," Jennifer wrote in an email to me. "I love them both and I am clear about this: that relationships forged through words are indeed valid and tangible."
While working in an office can be many-sided, I think that getting to know your colleagues online is truly far-reaching. Sure, at an office, you might see your co-worker's photos of her kids on her desk, and you might chat about your marriage over brewing coffee... but there's something communicating online that can go very deep. Do you agree?
Evan's memorial was Tuesday, July 29, in Pasadena, California. All over the blogosphere, bloggers have been participating in a cybermemorial: friends and writers are honoring Evan by taking pictures of flowers on swings because Evan loved to swing.