Friday, October 1, 2010

Megan Kehew Baroni: Warrior Extraordinaire

There is a funeral in Boston today for a young woman I never met, and yet I grieve. In fact my first online family is reeling, and so I thought it made sense to post a tribute.

The Newest Mrs. Weasley

Most of you know my entry into writing seriously came at the doors of fan fiction, but before fan fiction ever occurred to me, there was the Wizard War thread at HPANA. I joined and began making friends before the release of Half Blood Prince, and we theorized and debated the way things would go, tore through every hint that was dropped (chapter titles, news of an impending death).

In the fervor that followed the release, into the thread came an outgoing young woman calling herself The Newest Mrs. Weasley, and claiming she was newly married to RAB. Now those of you who are Potter obsessed may remember the hint dropped in Half Blood Prince that RAB had taken something pretty significant from one ‘Dark Lord’ so Megan was an instant hit.

She was smart (working on an architectural master’s degree), able to string clues together to develop interesting new theories or to argue for or against the ones presented by others. It was how we all bonded, and so she was one of us.

We heard about her sailing, her travels (often hysterically funny stories about her travels—the one to the left was in DC with her sister—giving a thumbs up to Sandra Day O’Connor), her sisters. We heard complaints about movie-makers mucking up the flow of traffic in front of where she lived (damn Tom Cruise!), and the adventures of her and the fabulous RAB…

Sad News

On Wednesday, my friend Joris noticed strange Facebook feed on her page and went searching for information.  He found an obituary. ‘Sudden illness’ was an unsatisfying answer for a 30 year old woman, so Rissa dug a little deeper and found a note that said she’d had an aneurism Sunday. They tried to do surgery, but the swelling around the brain stem meant chances were very poor. She died on Monday.

My Wizard Warriors

It’s amazing how people can touch each other so deeply without ever coming face to face—how much of a group mourning process this really is. Reactions vary, and none of our friends or family in real life get it. Sobbing sadness, anger, resentment that this vivacious, talented, loving and loved person could be taken so young, while bitter mean people live a full century.

For me the overwhelming sensation is shock. I just talked to her—I’m sure it hasn’t been more than a week or two since we shared the same Facebook conversation… it is approaching the season where she pulls out her Tweed and I start itching and preaching the superiority of nudity to her… we’ve had the argument annually for five years (fall was her favorite because she got to get out her tweed).

[I can’t even imagine what her family, and the wonderful RAB must be going through. My heart goes out to them. I hope they know there is a lot of love for Megan among her geeky Potter friends.]

I went to send emails Wednesday afternoon, to make sure there were as few un-notified Wizard Warriors as possible… and there she was in my address book.  Just no words.  How are there no words?

We all came together through our Potter-love, but I think we all got so close for two reasons… we laughed together, and we supported each other. This fantastic and varied group of people holds each other up, so what I am recommending for my Wizard Warrior peeps is a weekend long wake. Let’s head into our thread and remember Megan and support each other.


Donna Hole said...

I have several friends on-line, that I only know on-line. Their real-life people wouldn't know me, and probably wouldn't think to tell me - or the blogging community my special people are involved in - that anything has happened to my friend.

That is the two-edged sword of the blogging community. We form relationships that mean nothing to anyone but us.

Coincidentally, I was just over at Simon C Larters blog, and saying that I'd followed him ages before he noticed me and actually left a comment on my blog. Nobody ever knows the meaning of the internet connections a person makes.

I have blogger/e-mail addresses that I can ask "where are you?" but I can't check on my friends half a world away. And if nobody ever knows to set a post that tells the on-line friends you're gone, how will we ever know.

Friendships are important, however you make them. And when someone just disappears on-line, it is as devastating as when a ftf best friend dies. But really, who's to know . .

Simon C. Larter said...


That's all today.

Alexandra Crocodile said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, that is really tragic. Blogging relationships are really strange; there are many people I only know through blogging that I would be heartbroken by if they died. It's a new kind of relationship, I think. And we don't quite know what to feel yet.

Hart Johnson said...

Yeah-this one was because of also being Facebook friends and then Google, but still required that one of our mutual friends was paying a lot closer friends that I have had time to recently.

It IS strange to think if something happened to us, so many people would have NO CLUE where we'd gone.

Rissa said...

The shock was the worst; she had just posted something about missing her hoodie and I was jealous.Thank goodness Joris noticed, or we would still all be in the dark.

No one does understand the bonds we all share out here in cyber space. We have been speaking online for 6 years now. 3 of which were speant in hourly discussions 24/7. Some of you guys know me better than people I have known since I was a child.

It was hard not knowing and having to dig for clues. I felt a bit like I was invading someone's privacy even googling, but I think Megan would want her online friends to know. It is a damn shame, she was such a wonderful person. She was wicked awesome!

It's funny--we just discussed recently what plans we would make in the face of our own end. I will have to revise my plans and add a few instructions with regard to my online friends.

gae polisner said...

heartbreaking. and beautiful post. thoughts with you. Today there seems to be, everywhere, sorrow in the air...

Hart Johnson said...

Simon and Alexandra-we cross posted this morning--thanks so much.

*hugs Rissa*--I've had that experience... searching in such a public way almost seems obscene, but how else would we know? And EXACTLY on those plans--I feel like I need one of my closer friends to have all my passwords, and then instruct my daughter to email them if something happened.. WEIRD stuff to think about.

Gae--thank you!

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

ugh. i'm so sorry to hear this. She sounds like a great/hilarious person i probably would have liked to get to know.

M.J. Nicholls said...

Sad news. Sending warm thoughts across the Atlantic.

Helena said...

What terrible news, and what a wonderful Wizard Warrior Megan must have been.

There are plenty of downs and ups about blogging, but one terrific advantage to it is meeting fantastic people in cyberspace you never knew existed. My cyber friends (like you, Hart!) have been lifesavers, and if anything bad ever happened to them my grief would be real.

Bridge Marie said...

I didn't know Megan, but my heart goes out to you guys and her family. That's just so sad, really, as you say Tami, there aren't words... but you did a nice job with them here. We can't be too appreciative of the support network we have here.

Hart Johnson said...

Sarah and Mark--thanks you guys!

Helena *hugs* it's true--very real.

Bridge-I've been thinking a lot about what your little group went through with Hannah--this was much more sudden, but it is still pretty amazing how deep the bonds are.

Deb and Barbara said...

Oh, Hart. Heartbreaking. Even if I only get to read about her through you, it's amazing how a sense of loss overwhelms. Completely understand your shock and sadness.

Loving thoughts to all! xo B

Mandey Smith said...

Really well written. I really appreciate this.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is really sad. It's scary to think an online friend could die and we'd never know.

RaShelle said...

I'm so sorry Hart. xoxoxo

Steel Magnolia said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Cyber friendships are as delicious and meaningful as those we have in person. More sometimes. Perhaps we should each put a directive on our laptops in case of emergency how to notify each other (Facebook, BlogPost, etc.). An ICE of sorts. ~Allie

Mason Canyon said...

So sorry for your loss. People we never see in person can still touch our lives so deeply. Hugs, keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

Thoughts in Progress

Drew said...

I happen to be real world friends with Megan and I can't tell you how wonderful it is to see you writing such a wonderful tribute. We will all miss her greatly. Megan herself transcends boundaries and made friends everywhere he went- online and off.
Thank you. We will all miss Megan.

Hart Johnson said...

Thank you so much to all of my blogging friends! You people really are wonderful, and Allie, I think you are onto something.

Drew-I'm so glad you found your way here and that this alternative world Megan brought so much fun and laughter to isn't too strange to understand.

Old Kitty said...

I am very sorry to hear about Megan. My condolences to her bereaved family and friends. She will always be remembered here in blogworld, thanks to her wonderful thoughtful bloggie friends.

Take care

holly said...

Very well said Tami. I was just as shocked and saddened as everyone else. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends at a time like this. I know I have been forever changed by our group of Wizard Warriors.
Holly (hermy78)

Cheeseboy said...

Sounds like a great woman. Sorry for the loss. Sending best wishes.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself. *hugs*

mklamb79 said...

Megan was my roommate in college. She gave my daughter Abigail her first copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for my baby shower (we didn't know the sex when I was pregnant) and her inscription is:

"Dear Baby-

The world has many wonderful things and this magical world is one of them. I hope to help you discover them all.

Love- Megan"

She was one of my best friends and I am heartbroken she will not be able to help Abby discover Harry Potter and any other magical things. I always knew she was a fabulous person, I'm glad that came across in cyberspace as well. Thank you for a wonderfully written tribute to my dear friend who will be missed in so many of our worlds.

- Maura

Hart Johnson said...

Maura-I'm so glad some of Megan's real life friends are making there way here, and what a WONDERFUL legacy to pass your daughter!

I got an email from Megan's dad today, and love the idea that Megan is connecting more people.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been so supportive.