Having been somewhat out of commission for awhile, this is surely a little late in the timing department. I couldn’t just let this one pass without my own views on the subject. I’d like to take a moment here to share my personal thoughts on a loss that’s affected many of us here on AC: the sudden and tragic death of fellow writer, the “Writestuff”, Betty Malone.
It was my birthday, November 30th, when I heard the news. I’d been checking some birthday messages I’d received on Facebook and saw a wall posting that started: “Keeping your spirit alive Writestuff…” My heart immediately sank. Could this be true? I started scrambling around the pages of Facebook and within a minute the realization hit me with the shock usually reserved for such news. Though we’d never met face to face, I considered Betty a friend. I was terribly grief-stricken that she was gone, so suddenly, without a word.
I first came across Betty when she started making comments on my work. She initiated contact with comments on my “Opposing Viewpoints” series with Becky Whittemore. One of her first comments to me embodied the loving person I would soon come to know:
“I have friends all across the spectrum of political and cultural beliefs…and we have just learned to not judge each other’s beliefs, but to see what we have in common. We sometimes have to agree not to discuss a topic that is a hot button issue for one of us, and that’s okay too. People are more than just their beliefs!”
That was Betty! She was a fair-minded person who always saw the best in things. She believed it was okay to disagree with people, but to be respectful to the other person and not let any difference of opinion get in the way of a relationship. In that series, Betty regularly read and commented on Becky’s pieces, showing a true interest in what others have to say, whether she agreed with it or not.
For me, Betty was an ally, a like-minded individual who saw things from the same perspective as I, even though we couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds. When the negative comments and messages stemming from those pieces started pouring in, Betty was always there with supportive comments and private reassurances. With each and every interaction, Betty brought a smile to my face.
When I was first made aware of her death, I was a little surprised at the depth of grief I was feeling. Once reality set in, I realized that she and I and many of you reading this are all a part of a family of sorts, a unique variety of kin in this high-tech world we live in. As writers in a community, we feel an appreciation for what each of us is trying to do with our talents, and through our work and in our commentary, a side of our personalities shines through and allows us to get to know each other in a different way than others in our lives know us. Friendship and kinship often blossom in this situation, and such was the case with Betty.
In the days that have passed since I learned of Betty’s passing on November 17th, I’ve come to realize once again that life is very fragile. None of us ever really knows just when and where our stories will end, so it’s important to take stock in all of the good things that we have, and learn to appreciate them each and every day. Associated Content has become a significant part of my life, and I’ve met some pretty wonderful people here that I absolutely cherish. So to all of you in my AC Family, I want to thank you for your kindness, your support, and your friendship.
Here’s a posting I left on Betty’s online guestbook:
What can I say? It’s amazing, this life of ours, that you and I and so many others can develop such a deep and caring relationship even though we’ve never met face to face. I heard about your passing yesterday, my birthday. Amidst all of the birthday messages on Facebook, there was a blurb about you.
You once wrote to me about how unlikely it was for a gay young (haha!) man from NYC and a 55 mother and wife to see the world so similarly and get along in it? Who knows, but a lot of people could have taken a lesson from us!
I’m simply heartbroken at your loss! I will miss you terribly!
To view or write in Betty Malone’s online guestbook, click here.
Tributes to Betty from other AC Family members:
Betty Malone Passes Away: How to Keep Her Spirit Alive, by Lori Lane
A Death in the AC Community: Betty Malone Gone but Not Forgotten, by Charlotte Kuchinsky
When You Don’t Want to Say Goodbye: Tribute to Betty Malone, by Karen Juriwicz
Five Minute Friday December 4, 2009: Inspiration from the Words of a Writer and a Friend, by Julie Darleen
Read some of Betty Malone’s inspiration, wisdom, and appreciation for life (and her AC Family) on her Associated Content page here.
Special thanks to Lori Lane for spreading the word!