My friend Laurie passed away this week. It was not unexpected, but still devastating to know that such a kind soul has left the world. She was a dear lady, kind and friendly. Every evening I’ve been thinking about Laurie, about her boys who she loved fiercely, about her husband and how quiet things must be for him right now. To feel relieved for her to be done with the pain and treatments and tests and tumours, but to be completely devastated at the same time.
She deserved more time, and she certainly deserved better time.
As I scroll through Facebook I see the community Laurie built around her. I met her on Twitter, though we soon found real life connections. I followed her because she was a proud knitter and lived in my city. Eventually we met in person, she added me to a great Facebook group all about reading. We blogged out loud together once. (Okay, I thought we did, but I checked and we never read in the same year).
The first time I ever did a 5k was in 2010 when Laurie reached out to her friends for a Run for the Cure team. 
What is clear from the pictures and stories that are being posted is that Laurie built a community around her. Maybe more than one. And we all loved her.
Even before this happened, I had been thinking about my own community. Many of my current friends are people I met online before meeting them in real life. The fact is that I’m better written. I get very awkward in public, especially in a room full of people I don’t know trying to make small talk. When conversations start on Twitter there is already something to talk about.
One thing about my community is that it includes wonderful women – women who are older than I am, women with children older than mine, women who can look at my experiences and say ‘I’ve been there, it’s okay.”
I am so very lucky to have all of these women around me. Women who support me and who I am proud to lend support to – even though I don’t always know what to say or how to say it. Women I laugh with. Women I am proud of, women I am happy for. 
Historically I have been very bad at keeping in touch with people. I have to make a concerted effort or I assume they forget me and move on. Social media has made it much easier to stay in touch, to not feel awkward about it, to have people there when I need them.
I will miss Laurie dearly. I will miss her writing. I will miss her smile. I will miss her book reviews. I will relish the friendship we had, and the women I still have around me.
You can read more about Laurie on her blog here. She also wrote a book about her journey, which is still available on Kobo and Kindle as far as I know.

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