Death of a Blog Reader

I never got a chance to meet Mildred Gordon, but she became a dear friend.

About a year ago, I noticed that she was liking all my blog posts on my Facebook page. Didn’t know who she was or why she had liked my page. I didn’t know why she read my blog posts, but every day, I got a notice from FB that “Mildred Gordon” had liked my post. I didn’t think she ever left comments, but one day (I’m ashamed to admit that it took me a long time) I realized that the woman named “sumalama” who left comments on my blog was the same as the woman on Facebook who “liked” my posts.

geraniumsShe became one of my staunchest supporters, liked the idea of my embracing adventure, loved that I danced. She offered me a couch whenever I needed one.

To be honest, although I “knew” her, I didn’t know much about her, just what I gleaned from her comments. She once commented that someone had recommended she read my grief posts, and she was glad they did. And so our connection began.

Another time, she wrote: “Pat Bertram, you matter because when I read your blog posts I can forget about my problems and just get lost in your words. Thank you. Please keep writing!” Later, through other comments, I got an inkling of what those problems were: “Friends and family are getting me through metastasis bone cancer. Wish they weren’t so sad for me…I’ve lived a long and happy and adventurous life!”

“Dance for you is what Tai Chi is for me. Even though I can no longer do it, just thinking of the different forms calms me, relaxes me, brings me peace. Lying in my bed, I can imagine myself flowing through the forms, like a slow motion dance, and I am one with it.”

And I learned a bit about her adventures: “Pat, one step at a time. I have started over many times and that’s how I’ve always done it. And I’ve done it alone, with small children. I am not worried about you, now that you have the dance to feed your being.

The kids and I lived homeless in another country for 6 months, many years ago when they were 5, 4, and a newborn. It wasn’t easy. But we survived. And are the better for it. And now this new journey of mine, with cancer, has my friends worried/bothered for me like your friends are for you.

Let them worry, let them be bothered. It’s their choice. Me? I am truly excited for you and can hardly wait to see what your blog shares about the new life you will form!

Best of luck and have fun! Hugs, Millie

And then suddenly, the “like”s and comments stopped. Worried, I emailed her, using the email address she’d used for WordPress comments, but got no response. I didn’t really expect any — any time I’d contacted someone via such an email, I got no reply, as if perhaps I had stepped over a boundary I shouldn’t have.

Today I checked her Facebook profile, hoping to find an explanation. And I did.

Mildred died on May 20th. A celebration of her life was held on May 31st, while I was dancing on stage. Although I didn’t know about the service at the time, my dancing was a much better memorial to her than the tears that are now blurring my eyes.

I’m sorry I never got to meet ”sumalama.” (Sorry I never asked what that meant.) But I am so very glad we connected.

Thank you, Millie, for enriching my life. Best of luck and have fun! Hugs, Pat


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

21 Responses to “Death of a Blog Reader”

  1. Coco Ihle Says:

    Wonderful tribute to a devoted fan! You both were enriched!

  2. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    I often think about the online friends I’ve made connections with and realize that if anything ever happened to them, in most cases I would never know because even if his/her family mailed out snail mail letters, they wouldn’t know me or my address. Sad thought not to know. Sad thought when you find out.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Many people have slipped away from me in the past few years, and I’m never quite sure what happened. Some I found out died, others I never found out what happened. I like the practice of keeping the profiles of those who have died, but if someone didn’t have anyone to post a note, then, we’re just left wondering.

  3. rami ungar the writer Says:

    My condolences on your loss, Pat. I had a reader who died, and I didn’t know about it until months later, when I noticed he’d stopped liking or commenting. It was really sad and I didn’t know how to handle it since so much time had passed. No matter what though, you feel that loss, and it’s an awful feeling in your gut.

  4. Emilie S. Says:

    This is very sweet, yes–huge hugs and condolences, both to her and her family, in case any of them come here!!!

  5. A.J. McCarthy Says:

    That is so sad, Pat. But she seemed to be a person with a very positive attitude, about both life and death.

  6. Pat Hernandez Says:

    Probably about a dozen of my e-mail/Facebook friends have died–lovely ladies whom I never met in person but enriched my life in many ways. How wonderful that you had “sumalama” in your life.

  7. Carol Louise Wilde Says:

    This is a beautiful story. Not sad, just beautiful.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Her passing made me think of all the people I’ve come to know and respect over the years, such as you. I appreciate your thoughtful comments — you always give me something to think about.

  8. Wanda Says:

    Lovely story of friendship in this new age. I have asked my family to see to it that, if something happens to me, that there is an announcement of it on my facebook page. Some time ago that might have seemed silly but as we all become so inter-connected online it only seems right. Just like an obit in the paper from days gone past.

    Sumaluma, I recall her name on posts now and again and I found I liked her point of view. You blessed her life with your writing and she blessed yours with hers.


    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s good that families post comments when someone dies, such as Millie’s family did. How else would we know what happened to those in our online communities who simply cease to be in our lives.

      This episode makes me more determined than ever to meet you! Things happen, if we just let the world and time take it’s course.

  9. Constance Koch Says:

    Sorry about your friend. I had read her comments too. Wondered why I did not see them anymore.
    We make friends through our computers, and they are very close to us too. We get to know them and they us.
    Families need to post information to inform the Computer Friends.

  10. LordBeariOfBow Says:

    I too read your blogs every morning, I’m getting old and lazy I suppose I rarely comment for the same reason, but this post struck a cord, I too like Millie have cancer and in 14 days time I shall be having a total gastrectomy, the surgeon who will perform the operation is one of this country’s best and he is very optimistic that I will make a full recovery, but being now in my 80’s I’m perhaps not so optimistic so I have a blog ready that will post one month after the operation should I succumb and I depart for the University of Wollongong, I always wanted to go to a university; you might care to ead the following blog I posted some years ago 🙂

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Well, let’s hope you do make a full recovery! I’ve lost one blog reader. Can’t “bear” to lose another. I’ll be thinking of you, wishing you the best.

      I read your post. Why isn’t it going to happen now? You’ll still have bones, won’t you?

  11. Linda Christle Says:

    I am sorry for the loss of dear follower, Your words are helping me through this 2nd year of grief and I appreciate them so much. I am revisiting parts of your book again for extra help. Hopefully your little walks will keep you content until you can venture on the great walk. My husband hiked the rockies and the eastern mountains with our son as he was a great outdoors man but he never went alone. He started on hike in New Mexico by himself but he turned around as the darkness surrounded him. He was never a little walker it was always a grand adventure so I think it seemed to overwhelming to him alone. Just a few thoughts. Hopefully your car will be fixed soon. You seem to keep very busy which is wonderful. Love your dancing pictures.
    I am working on a smile—-hopefully more real as the year goes by. Take Care

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The second year really is hard — the realization that he’s never coming back and that this is a permanent state is horrendously difficult. As a culture, we’re so instilled with the idea of positivity, that looking on the bright side makes everything right, but it simply is not true. Some things have to be endured.

      If you find things to smile about, smiling will come easier, though none of the grief process is easy. If you need to get things out of your head, feel free to stop by any time. I will respond. I know how important it is to know someone understands. I don’t understand your situation, of course, but I do understand that you’re hurting, and will continue to hurt. Death might be a part of life, but we don’t have to like it or the way it makes us feel.

      It could be I feel the same as your husband — unable to handle the open darkness by myself. On the other hand, after dealing with so many years of grief, I am so much more willing to deal with what scares me than ever before.

      Wishing you peace.

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