“Can you believe it? Me!!! In Matt’s talk! Me!? I…just …. I can’t believe it. Little ol’ me. An old lady up there on the screen with all the kids. It’s official, I really am #WPMom now.” Grinning ear to ear. Laughing. Happy. Her eyes were glimmering. Kim Parsell was beside herself, with an humble but genuine gratitude, for having been acknowledged by Matt Mullenweg, during his 2014 State of the Word, for her contributions to the WordPress community at large.
I remember thinking, while she talked, about how beautiful Kim was. Not her outward beauty – her crisp blue eyes, her bright and engaging smile – but her inward beauty. Her authenticity. And I saw her vulnerability. And I saw the literal twinkle in her eye that day. This is what happy looks like. And I thought about how little she was – physically small – shorter than me and so petite. And I thought about how strong she was – in her spirit. You could actually feel that when you were around Kim. You knew things were ok and even if they weren’t great, they would be ok … and eventually good again. She made you feel that way about life. And in those specific moments when she was sharing with me how happy she was, I remember thinking how much she deserved her moment. She had earned it.
Sunday’s Contributor Day was wrapping up and I was heading out, my volunteer shift was over. I asked Kim if she wanted to grab dinner that evening, but she was staying late to help clean up. We promised each other we’d make time on Monday evening. But then that never happened. But that’s just how it goes at WordCamps. You try to make time for all the people you really want to spend time with while you’re “on location” and you’re all in proximity of each other – but plans change and you go with the flow of it. I remember thinking….no worries…I’d catch Kim at the next WordCamp and of course there’s always Twitter, Skype, Slack and good old fashioned email. Next time…
But There Won’T Be a Next Time.
These days, I spend most of my life alone. I have John and the children, but if it were not for social media – and to that end – the WordPress Community – I would have almost no connection to the outside world. I’m not even joking. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, it just is what it is during this season of my life. Kim was one of those people I met through WordPress, through Twitter, and became friends with in real life. I was hoping to spend more time with her in 2015. The sadness is real, the emotions are real – people often say, “Oh social media – it’s not like if you die it will matter to anyone on Twitter or Facebook.” I say those people don’t value relationships – they just value noise. They like the noise of social media – but they aren’t using the tools to leverage relationships.
Their loss, really. Because people like Kim are out there – readily available to befriend you. To help you. To listen. To mentor. To help guide. To share in the joy. The pain. The burden. The blessing. Of life. Facilitated by the internet of things….but facilitated none the less.
Yes, Kim was my “online friend” …but she was a friend. And I’m going to miss her greatly.
Each Moment of Time Is a Mountain
A few days ago another online friend posted a poem that resonated. I jotted down the poem. I didn’t bookmark the link to his online posting about the poem, so, Joe, if you’re reading this…my bad. But thanks for sharing because tonight as I lay awake, thinking of Kim, I found myself thinking of the mountain that she got to ascend, looking around at all her peers in WordPress, and counting her blessings.
Today I Was Happy, So I Made This Poem – James Wright
As the plump squirrel scampers
Across the roof of the corncrib,
The moon suddenly stands up in the darkness,
And I see that it is impossible to die.
Each moment of time is a mountain.
An eagle rejoices in the oak trees of heaven,
This is what I wanted.
(Photo from Matt’s gallery of WCSF. Taken by Sheri Bigelow.)
Kim, we love and miss you.
Matt, thank you for honoring her the way you did. It was a small gesture, perhaps, on your part – but it meant a lot to her. Which meant the world to me. You gave her that moment of time that was her mountain.