Back in the earliest days of my Internet experience, I joined an online discussion group and was a member there until this year. Over that time, I came to meet many people online, and some have become close friends. Really, chat room and discussion boards can be an introvert's paradise, can they not?
Anyhow, one woman I met was across the Pond. In an earlier generation, we would have been penpals. The beauty of discussion boards was that time zones didn't matter. If you made a comment in the wee hours of my time, I'd see it at some point, and could respond to you.
We exchanged email addresses and a lively correspondence ensued. On all kinds of topics, and we sent incredibly long emails to one another. In short, friendship flourished.
We ended up meeting in real life, too, when she and her family crossed the Pond for a holiday. We got along as well in real life as we did in the online one.
We went on a vacation across the Pond and visited them while we were in the UK. They had to cross over the Pond a time after that because of business for him, so she came along, and we visited.
And then, bit by bit, real life seemed to take up more and more time. Less time for long emails, but we'd send little notes at least. Then fewer little notes until none at all.
I had been thinking about her a lot recently, and wondered how she and her family were doing. And today's her birthday, so I thought I'd send an ecard and wish her a happy birthday, hoping all is well.
I sent it, and I received an answer saying that the card could not be delivered. I must have typed in the wrong address, would i please try again.
This is where snail-mail wins out, because in that world, the card would have been forwarded, had the move happened recently. In this one, she's simply disappeared from my view in Cyberspace.
I realize these things happen, people grow apart or become involved in something else and it's not necessarily vindictive, just that the season of actively knowing someone passes.
All the same, happy birthday to a wonderful woman who once referred to me as "me old china." Back at ya, sweetie.