Over the past year I had gotten to know a very special Canadian woman amazingly well: Samantha. She was known online by many different names; babelfish, zolimaeph, FrankenZoli, and moeriel. We were different people but shared many identical traits, all the way down to our birthdays being the same (January 24th). We talked daily — literally — and it wasn’t just casual chit-chat but lengthy (6-7 hour) in-depth conversations about each other, our lives, how we felt, what we were thinking, and many many laughs. Just spending time with her was amazing in itself, and I felt a sense of completion in many ways when we interacted. We both liked one another very much, and over the past 2-3 months we told one another that at least once a day; just a simple “I like you” and we knew what the other meant. Late last week we had even mentioned in passing that we’d had daydreams of flying out to meet the other (very difficult for me to do given my IBS).
Within the past 3-4 months she had become such an important part of my life that I looked forward to chatting with her online or via Skype on a daily basis. The highlight of my day — every day — was chatting with her. The past year has been a difficult year for me due to my own health problems, lack of job, a small battle with the California Unemployment Department, and a multitude of other things. The one thing that held me together was Sam, either through love, laughter, or intimacy.
Throughout the night (November 18th) we chatted on Skype until nearly 05:00 PST (19th). We were both very tired, but because of she had damaged her tail bone the week prior from fainting, I wanted to make sure she made it to bed okay, so I gave her a call on the phone. We chatted for maybe 15 seconds, and of that call all I remember was her saying “Hi” like she always did. Then there was dead air, with some noises that sounded like she had fallen asleep. After 3-4 minutes of trying to raise her, there was some noise and the line went dead. It worried me a little bit, as abrupt hang-ups were quite unlike her, so I tried calling her back; 5-6 rings, then voice mail. I waited a few more minutes, called again, and immediately got her VM which usually meant the line was engaged. A few minutes more, same situation. I went to bed thinking “I hope everything is okay”, worrying slightly as I fell asleep.
I woke up around 12:30 and started preparing for work (I work from home). None of our mutual friends had seen her sign back in to IRC or Skype, which I thought was a bit odd but figured she was sleeping in (well-deserved).
At 14:30 I received a strange phone call; initially a text-to-voice message asking me if I knew her by name, which I responded to with yes. A few minutes later, I received a voice call from the same number where an individual who sounded extremely emotional/distraught asked me what my relationship with her was.
After some minor back-and-forth, I was told that she had passed away earlier that morning.
My heart sank, but because I’d never spoken to (or even heard of) this caller before, I figured this could be some strange prank or maybe even malicious. I called the police department in Calgary, who were extremely helpful and nice (especially compared to American officers — and I have deep respect for our police forces) and understood my predicament. I gave them her name, number, and the number of the individual who’d called me. The PD told me they’d do their best to get back to me, even though I wasn’t family (respectfully), as for all they knew what happened could have indicated something nefarious requiring police involvement.
About 45 minutes later I received a call back from the Calgary PD. They had spoken to the RCMP in Airdrie, as well as the individual I did. I was then told, apologetically, that her death was in fact confirmed, and that her passing was due to “natural causes”. I thanked them and ended the call.
I then informed very select/key people who I knew she trusted and loved of the news. I also called my boss at work and requested bereavement leave for the rest of the week, which was approved immediately.
Since that moment, a very big part of my life has fallen apart. I’m not suicidal — I have reasons to never resort to that (personal/borderline religious) — but I am filled with such a range of emotions that I cannot even begin to jot them all down.
The 9 hours that followed consisted of absolute constant, non-stop crying. I literally went through hundreds of Kleenex (at least 3 boxes). I had no apatite and my stress level was through the roof — both of which are things that completely destroy someone like me who has IBS.
I would sit and at IRC or Skype and just expect her name to show up, especially on Skype. Others in the IRC channel we hung out felt (and still feel) identically, but varied depending on how well they knew her. Some were only able to deal with it for about 15 minutes before having to leave IRC, and a couple managed to tough it out through the night, hoping that the following day they’d have woken up and found it was all a bad dream. For me, it’s none of that — it’s just constant, unabashed hurting.
Many peers of ours told me that she used to talk about me (to them) all the time, and I was incredibly important to her just as she was to me. “J is so awesome” she apparently would say regularly. I don’t see myself as someone amazing, but how I see myself isn’t relevant here; what is relevant is that we had (have) a very unique connection. I don’t believe in “soul mates”, but I do believe she and I had an extremely cosmic link, on multiple wavelengths, that affected multiple aspects of our lives simultaneously.
Anger is the only emotion I didn’t experience constantly, just occasionally. Samantha had told me time and time again “no matter what happens [with us], I always want to get to know you”. I’m now left asking “how am I supposed to do that when you’re gone?!”
Someone from the IRC channel she and I hung out in mentioned I should write her a letter, mail it to myself, and then never open it. I began writing that letter yesterday, and will include a paragraph of it at the end of this post.
It’s very hard to articulate here just how close she and I had become. So many small things in my life involved her — even minuscule things like how when I went to Walgreens the night of the 18th I was unable to find any decent gummi candies (we both loved gummi things), but instead found Starburst jelly beans, which she’d never had. Now I see the nearly-full bag in my pantry and I think of her and break down. We had exchanged a bit of (classical-esque) music over the past week, and I found myself crying listening to anything she had sent me.
She had other friends with whom she was just as close — people from her gaming sessions who lived in Europe, and certain key people on IRC — and I have been trying to find the former online without much success. Sam was a very private person in many regards, and keeping people’s anonymity was something she respected. This blog post has a lot of key information redacted for the same reasons — because I think she’d want me to honour that.
November 20th has been a little easier, but only slightly. I managed to get about 4 hours sleep with the help of numerous sleep aids, but I woke up feeling a bit stronger and like I could deal with everything a little better, and to some degree that’s true. My friends tell me I’m grieving, and that it’s normal/good. I have other friends who are downright scared/worried about me, mainly because I’m alone/live alone/have no one around who I can connect with. You see, Samantha was that person to me, and she’s no longer with us.
There are parts of me inside that hurt which have never hurt before. I didn’t know I could hurt like this. This makes what I went through 20 years ago feel like a walk in the park. If she had been sick and gradually gotten worse/ill, I might have been better prepared… but this was sudden. Here one moment, gone the next. I can’t recall how many times yesterday I said out loud “I just talked to her N hours ago, how the fuck is this possible?” before bursting into tears or hitting my fists on my desk.
I’m trying to cope, but it’s just so hard. She had touched so many parts of my life and my soul that it’s very hard to cope.
When some people lose someone they love, they say they feel an emptiness, a void, inside of them where they used to be something. That isn’t how I feel at all. I feel like Samantha’s still in all of those parts of me, but none of those parts will continue to expand or grow because she’s gone. This is a woman who I will never, ever, ever forget.
Part of today was spent doing things like collating information I had about her, what all transpired the morning of the 19th, and just digging up anything I could find. Pictures, chat logs, everything, and saving it. It’s very hard for me to look at chat logs; I’m fine seeing her alias and name, but the instant I read any words of hers I start crying. The way she expressed herself was silly and loving and dramatic all mixed into one.
I’m obviously depressed, and justifiably so — I’ve lost someone who made my day great in every way — and part of me, for once in my life, considered talking to my doctor about chatting with a therapist just to get through this. But therein lies the irony: I lost my health insurance just last week and won’t have it again until January.
Did you know Samantha?
If you happen to be one of the people who knew this amazing woman — especially if you’re one of her friends who was in D&D campaigns with her, or played WoW with her — reading this blog post may hit you as hard as the news did me. There is one particular Norwegian fellow who I’m trying to find/get in contact with because he was one of her best friends, if not the best.
I would love to talk to anyone who remembers Sam, and maybe for all of us to chat together. You can find my Email address on my home pages’ CV/resume. This is also one of the only blog posts for which I’ve enabled comments.
One of Sam’s favourite songs
A few days before her passing, Sam introduced me to the song Nuvole bianche by Ludivico Einaudi; I bought the entire album on Amazon minutes after. And now with her passing, I realise that every note in that song represents my care, respect, and love for her.
From my letter — final words to Sam
“You are my friend, you are my partner of sorts, and you are someone whom I can never replace. I wish you were still here. I wish I could hear your voice, your laugh, and have you reach out digitally and touch my cheek and remind me that you care. I love you so much, and I would give anything to have you back. I love you for everything you are Samantha.”