An online acquaintance of mine, Erin Bennett, passed away Friday.
I first was made aware of her in October 2007, because cleolinda let LJ know that Erin had started Project Download, an unusually indirect fundraising effort to help Erin pay for brain surgeries. (More than one brain surgery. You don't want to know how many more than one there needed to be.)
A lot of drama followed, which I don't want to recap right now. I was in touch wih Erin during this time, and I gave her messages and amusements to give her undramatic, happy stuff to think about. She let me know she appreciated that. We never met, though she was local.
Knowing what can be hidden or false on the Internet, I kept my radar up for any signs that Erin's efforts were not on the level. Trust me when I say that I never saw anything that made me suspicious (it saddens me that there likely will be people who remain suspicious, even after this news). I supported her as I could, spread the word (as did Neil Gaiman), and donated to her fundraising when, eventually, she asked people directly for cash donations. (I wasn't the only one: an anonymous donor gave her $9,000.) But difficulties continued, and drama continued, and one day last year her personal journal redscorner and the community projectdownload were taken down. (I checked with LJ Abuse to try to find out why they'd been taken down. Best as we could see, Erin took them down herself.) I had this sense of Erin in limbo, and I was unsure if there was anything I could do to keep helping her. The best I could do was keep her in my mind.
Erin's been on my mind many times since then. I've done what I can to remember her. I'll keep doing that. She deserves that.
...this is one of those entries that resists a real ending. I've written several possible endings, and nothing sticks; and I think that comes from being mad that this was the ending Erin got. She dealt with her body revolting on her and with people suspicious of her (she was harassed online more than once); she dealt with more than I've ever had to deal with. And, sometimes, you get an ending like this. An ending which stinks, and is sad, and is enraging. And I'm at a remove; I cannot fully know how her family and friends are feeling.
But I am glad that I knew Erin, even if only by this electronic means of knowing someone. I have to take solace in having done what I could. I take some solace in knowing that I'm inclined to help (like donating to saveours00j; thank goodness that has helped, and that s00j has gotten better).
Find comfort. Help others find comfort. Even though it sometimes ends like this, it's something that's needed, something we're equipped to do.
I'm remembering you, Erin.