I started a draft for this entry a week ago and stopped. I wasn’t ready. Instead, I spent the next few days crying, feeling numb, feeling like life was cruel and unfair. Melanie was gone. It took me a long time to process. And still, the fact she has passed away has not fully set in my mind.
She was just here, I had just heard her voice, we were just chatting on the beaches of Juicy one day last summer. Melanie was just talking to me about how her neighbors were driving her nuts by holding choir rehearsal at the church next door in the early hours of the morning, she was just telling me about her new job and how she was happy to leave her old one. She had just introduced me to Gogo. I had just joined the CheLLe design team with her. We were just on the Kuu Ipo sim, a shopping area that sat next to Juicybomb, where she terraformed the parcels to resemble the islands of Hawaii somewhat. When you wanted to travel from one store to another, you were forced to move over the water and appreciate its beauty.
I had just met her. She can’t be gone. We hadn’t even played golf together in SL yet.
Losing a virtual friend is hard, and people who don’t play online games can’t always fathom how difficult it can be to know the person you care about won’t be logging on anymore. Melanie may have lived in Hawaii in real life, but when she was online, the Juicy family were her sisters and our sim was her home. We lived next door to her, we were her good neighbors, we were the ones who appreciated and loved her when something in her other life was missing. And when she wandered off from the game, we checked in with her on Plurk. We kept up with her and welcomed her back with open arms when she decided she missed our virtual shores again.
If I close my eyes and remember, Gogo tells me, she’s in my heart. That’s where she lives now. There is a quiet beach, dotted with rocks and seagulls, and some beautiful island in the distance slightly obscured by clouds and fog. There is a single house and a small kitchen, and a canoe to paddle around in. There is an island connected to this beach, and sometimes, there’s a volcano. Melanie lives there, in my heart, giving me her frank advice, getting excited over the latest k-drama, talking about how she loves Katamari, applying her frank call-them-like-she-sees-it wisdom to everything she comes across, because damn if anyone was going to keep her spirit down and her mouth shut–she would let the world know exactly what she thought. She will wander this beach in peace forever in my heart. And when I die, I will wander on someone else’s.
It doesn’t seem there’s ever enough of a way to memorialize someone you love and miss. The only way to do it in an infinite manner, is to remember who that person was, and keep their personality alive in your mind. Remember what they taught you. Remember how you felt when they told you something, remember the advice they gave you and how they managed to change your life–even if it was a little bit. In this way, they will never die.
What would Melanie say to us now? She’d definitely want all of us to be happy. Enjoy life as you can, while you can. Remember some of her last words: everybody be happy, okay? She actually said that on Plurk when she found out she had cancer. So, let’s follow her advice and never forget her. It’s the best way to show your love for her.