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To My Online Friends

Danielle

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This post is dedicated to my online friends and I want to tell you guys of one of my very first forum experiences and how it shaped me:

This post is dedicated to all of my true friends, including a very special person who died too young, Afton Lisette Newton. May you rest in peace... you're proof that angels do exist!

Back in 2006, I was a very different person. I was a really shy girl of 17/18 with low self-esteem who didn't have many friends. When I was younger, I did, but that was within the innocence of childhood when we just didn't care. As time went on, much to my dismay, I was outcasted. Let's face it - no one wanted to be friends with the geeky girl with a gimpy leg. I was tortured in high school and stabbed in the back more times than I can count by my former "friends". All of this led to the person I was then. I suffer from depression and have major trust issues because of my past.

When I graduated high school and turned 18, my dad decided that he wanted to walk out of my life. In fact, you could say that he traded me in for his Harley, which he bought for himself in celebration of my birthday that year. I was absolutely devastated and I felt like no one cared. We had just moved to a new town a few hours away and I missed the friends that I did have... yet, none of them tried to stay in contact, which said one thing to me... that they weren't true friends.

That all changed in October of 2006 when I found and joined The Hidden Bookcase. It wasn't my first forum experience, but it was certainly one that I'll never forget. I was bored one night, so I decided to look up some stuff on the BSC [book series]. I stumbled across a new forum and it was too hard to pass up, even though I hadn't read or discussed the books in years. You can only imagine how excited I was! I jumped in head first and was really surprised at the response. Everyone welcomed me with open arms, which was a very new experience for me. It felt so good to be accepted!

I never knew what acceptance was before because I had never gotten it. However, these people didn't care who I was, what I looked like, what I did, what kind of disability I had, etc. They just liked to discuss our one common love - books. Still, I never saw myself getting so attached to people that I would most likely never meet. Was I ever so wrong in my life? As I got to know these people, I became friends with them - K, L, and A in particular. Those three taught me my first lesson on true friendship. They've been there for me through thick and thin, whenever I needed them, and I will never forget them for that. I love them like sisters.

In August of 2007, K found the BSC boards and got me to join. I posted a few times, but I took a break after our close-knit community at The Hidden Bookcase was shattered. The was one person that I remembered, though. Afton made me feel so welcome in a way that I wouldn't forget. It's amazing how little it took to tear our whole community apart. After a few events that I don't particularly feel like discussing, The Hidden Bookcase community was gone, leaving K and I, the moderators, to pick up the pieces. Even though the site is still up, we no longer post much because it's painful for us to think about what once was and will never be again. We stuck together, though. A stayed with us as well, and she was pretty much the only one.

From there, K and I created The Library, now called Pages [NOW CLOSED]. The site is not too busy, but we once again have a cozy little community, thanks to the members in our little ring of forums. There, I met more people, a few of them being members of the BSC boards. After a long break from there, I was ready to come back, knowing and feeling comfortable in the fact that I would know someone there. K being chosen as admin was a plus - I knew that she was a great choice.

Upon returning, I noticed that Afton was no longer there. Where was she, I wondered? I didn't know she was so ill at the time. I also was unaware that I would become so attached to the members of the BSC community as fast as I did. After a few weeks, Afton came back, with explanations of her absence. I was shocked! Reading Afton's posts, I never would have guessed what she was going through. She was a very positive person who respected everyone and she brought a light to the boards that I had never seen. She stayed strong, even with everything that life had dealt her. She didn't look at her illness as an all around bad thing. She had faith that she would get better, but in the meantime, she was able to do something that she truly enjoyed - writing. She was much stronger than I could have been, stronger than anyone I've known. I get the feeling that she was one tough cookie. I just knew that she'd get better and I never thought anything else of it, but I guess we were all afraid to admit the truth...

Afton Lisette Newton passed away in her sleep four days ago [Died 1/12/09]. It's taken me that long to write this because I didn't know what to say or how to express what I am feeling. The whole BSC community was shaken and upset by the news. None of us knew what to do at first. In some circumstances, death can tear a community apart, but not us, we're sticking together. We're doing things for Afton, in her memory. We're discussing the good times and the bad. We're getting to know one another. This whole experience has brought us closer as a community, which I believe is what Afton would have wanted.

Afton's death has affected me in a number of ways. I knew that I cared for my online friends, but I never knew exactly how much until one of them was gone. Afton was positive until the very end and she may not know it, but she made a very big impact on me. She taught me to stay strong and keep my chin up in rough times. I will never forget her! <3 My only comfort is knowing that she is no longer suffering. No one should ever have to go through that she did.

Another thing among the many that my friends here have taught me is the true definition of friendship. Look up friend in the dictionary and all of them would be there. I see true friendship as black and white. There are no gray areas. A true friend is someone that is always there for you, no matter what, through the good times and the bad. There are no petty judgments... it's what's in your heart that counts.

I wrote this 4.5 years ago and I have some more thoughts to add to it.

Friends come and go. K and I are still pretty close, but I've pretty much lost touch with L & A. I still consider them friends, though, and I would love to hear from them again. Now, I know that we all post of the horrors of "that other forum", but some really good things came out of it, too. That site was my baby and as sad as I was to see it go, I realized that I was so sick of choosing a forum over my friends. I know a lot of you here and each of you has impacted me personally in some way. I don't normally like mentions in post like this, but [MENTION=1]Kirk[/MENTION] and [MENTION=2]Lauren[/MENTION] deserve this. They've both been there for me in ways that no one else has and I would be absolutely devastated if something were to happen to either one of them. I love them like family.

Afton's death taught me a lot of things, most of all to hold on to the friends that you've got because they can prove to be invaluable. We never knew how much we meant to Afton until after she died. I keep in touch with her mom and she's told me repeatedly, thanking me for being a good friend to her daughter when she needed it most. I'm telling you guys now, even though I may only know you through a computer screen, you're still friends to me and you mean the world. I love you all.

--Danielle
 
Oh Dani ;____;
*squeezes so tightly*
This is such a lovely heartfelt post and I can't get over how speechless I am at how beautiful and strong you are. You've been through so much and I can honestly say I have a huge amount of love and respect for you and always will.
I always think about meeting you one day, and hopefully we will meet, and I just can't wait to give you a huge hug ;__;
Aside from Kirk, who we both love, the funny boy <3, you are one of my greatest and cherished friends, in general terms and not just on the Internet. I wish there was someway we could meet sooner, but until I can afford a plane ticket for me and Kirk, hold on tight! :) <3
 
We will meet one day, Lauren. :) No doubts about that! You're like the little sister I always wanted, but never had! <3 I truly meant everything I said in this post. It just really sucked that a friend had to die in order for us to realize just exactly how important our friends are.
 
This is one of the reasons why I wanted to start Confab-It; I enjoy bringing people together. Back in day when I used to do competitive gaming it was always nice to see that the teams I lead got on so well and established solid friendships, all because of a common interest as simple as an online forum.

I'm sorry about your loss and what you had to go through. That said, you've become a much stronger person because of it, so I'm glad something positive was taken from these experiences.

We love you. <3
 
It just really sucked that a friend had to die in order for us to realize just exactly how important our friends are.

We don't know what is truly important to us, until we lose it. In this case, it had to be your friend, which you have my sympathies. :(

Amazingly heartfelt post, Danielle. :eek:
 
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