When I started blogging in 2003, it was because I was far from home, I was lonely and I had a new baby. My family in Ireland were interested in my doings. And it felt social to a new mother at home alone with her baby. I started reading other blogs. Here is a list of some favourites I made in 2009. Neither today nor yesterday. It was a good while before that, that I started reading Heather Armstrong on Dooce.com which is one of the blogs on that 2009 list. I was definitely reading it as early as 2004 when the writer’s own daughter was born.
I followed Heather faithfully over the years, I listened to her podcast, I followed her on Instagram and twitter. When she got divorced, I sent her a present (weird man, but she had a PO Box and I was so sad for her). She was one of the funniest writers on the internet. She often made me laugh out loud. Although her life was very different from mine, we had children of similar enough ages and her ability to articulate the universal experience of child rearing was extraordinary. She was a very gifted writer.
She was also pretty sick. She struggled with chronic depression (which she wrote a lot about) and alcoholism (which she wrote about more recently) all through the time I read her blog. Of late years, she basically disappeared from the internet aside from the occasional appearance on Instagram. I always kept an eye out for those updates. Her last couple of posts sounded manic and were confusing and hard to read. I was glad for her when she more or less stopped posting. It seemed like a good sign.
On May 9, she committed suicide and I am so sad for her two beautiful children (her elder child had just started college last year, the younger is only 13), her mother who had such a starring role in her blog and all of her family and friends. I’ve been thinking about her all day. It’s so strange to feel this way about a total stranger but there you go. Fluid Pudding (the strange names were a thing when blogging started) another of my favourite bloggers – also a great writer – put it this way:
Because she held nothing back, we felt like we knew her, and we loved her honesty. We laughed with her and we cried with her and we celebrated her victories. Then we watched her struggle. We followed along as she went down paths that felt destructive, and we suddenly felt uncomfortable with the honesty we once loved.