Friday, June 15, 2007

Internet Funeral

I need to make a few comments about my cousin Natalie's funeral. A fellow blogger who is a cousin-in-law, Randy, and I were discussing the funeral. You see, Natalie was a blogger as well. She was part of a group called W@H, meaning Women @ Home. There are about 150 of them scattered around the country and in various parts of the world. They seem to be a close-knit group and draw support from each other. Well, about 12 of these ladies came in for her funeral. Five ladies came from out of state, the farthest coming from Washington state. None of these ladies had met Natalie in person. This was a true internet funeral. Randy said he hoped some of his internet buddies would show up at his funeral.

The pastor read Natalie's blog once he knew he would be leading the service. He printed over 100 pages of Natalie's writings and used her own words. Her friends retrieved some lost files that Natalie thought was irretrievable because of a server that went down. These friends used her words. Natalie used a lot of scripture in her writings, words to hymns and praise songs, and her discussions with her heavenly Father. She called herself God's girl. A truly internet funeral.

I was happy I was able to attend the funeral. Thanks to dad for helping financially. There were only 5 of us first cousins on mom's side of the family. Natalie, at 33, was the second youngest. I am the oldest. I never expected anyone younger than me to go first. I am saddened. I am sad for her two young children. I am sad for my Aunt Mary and Uncle Geoff, for Natalie was their only child. I am sad that I never knew her that well. I have learned a lot about her through her blog and the comments of all her friends.

Natalie, I will miss you. Say hello to mom, my child I never knew and our grandparents.


Think Pink Dana said...

Actually- several of the ladies have met Natalie in person. I am one- though i couldn't make the funeral.
I think it's interesting that people in general seem to find it "less" of a friendship because it began on the internet, as though proximity is necessary for closeness. I live 800 miles from my mom, but that doesn't change our relationship. (I am not saying that you are implying otherwise--just making the statement)
I love that the internet has made it possible for me to make friends without geographical limits. Natalie was a daily blessing in my home whether on the phone, over email, or on very rare occasions, in person.
I am so sorry for your loss.
I am sorry for all of our losses.
I miss Natalie very much, too.

Heather said...

Hi Mark. I was there at the funeral. I am blessed that someone paid for me to go as well. Thank you, as part of Nattie's family, for accepting us there. I had actually met Natalie in person. We spent time together in TN a couple of years ago. She has been one of the most beuatiful gifts God ever put in my life. I miss her.

Jamie said...

Hi Mark,
I'm one that couldn't make it...I was still trying to find a way to make it the morning of the memorial. I was fortunate enough to have some of the lovely W@H ladies who did make it, call me while they were in route, and include me on their dinner via speaker cell-phone. Nattie brought the tight knit community even closer. She was a very special lady whom we all miss. I never met Nattie in person, but she did have an affect on me, supported me in prayer, and was supported by me - and many others - in prayer. I am pleased that those of our group who were able to attend were able to share a side of Nattie with you, and to bring you some comfort. In turn, I know that our own grief has been softened sweetly by her father's willingness to share with us via her blog, her aunt joining w@h as well as a co-worker who was just getting to know Nattie. I've just been pointed toward your blog by W@H, in fact, because these little ties still show us how deeply Nattie meant to us.

Becky said...

I "met" Nattie for the first time three years ago. Since that time I talked to her almost daily through an email group the administrators of W@H have. I met her in person for the first time in 2005 and then again in 2006. The last time I saw her she was getting weepy when we said our goodbyes. When I see her again, there will be no more tears! I miss her more than I can say.

Gracie's Heart said...

Hi Mark, I was at the funeral as well, Cynthia from Illinois. I had never met Natalie and I certainly never thought that the first time would have been at the viewing. That broke my heart.

I have prayed for Nattie and for her precious children and when there was a need felt led to send her the needed help. It is a strange thing, when you share community with a group of grow to share each others burdens and joys, you laugh, cry, can be silly and have fun and you grow to know one another...when it happens to be thru the internet the same thing occurs. For some it is a way to be more real and transparent than IRL (in real life), it can have a way of removing masks and bringing intimacy that may not occur IRL. What is soo strange is that when we finally DO get to meet in person, it is truly as if we have known each other IRL all along. There was only one other girl there that I had met before, but the others felt just as familiar as if I had met them before as well.

We have been soooo grateful for Natties Daddy posting on her blog and keeping us posted. And for Natties Mommy, who so lovingly welcomed us and invited us into what she called her "hobbit house" to sit, talk and just share. And for her Aunt Anne, who really gives the best hugs and we are so grateful is among us at WAH now. I am sorry for your families loss. It will be never, that we wont miss her at WAH, for they are intertwined and inseparable, forever.

Natalie has a legacy of faith that God is using and will continue to use. It was very astounding to me as well, how much of Natalie's own words made her own funeral...and yet each word spoken had something to say, share, and teach. I know I am still trying to learn to apply the things that challenged me that day...

...she was a woman after God's own heart...she is deeply and daily sorely missed...until we see her again in GLORY...

Mark said...

I am really sorry that I never got around to meeting any of you at the funeral. I was impressed and honored knowing that so many of you came to the funeral. I know it helped Aunt Mary and Natalie's Aunt Anne a lot to have you all there and to visit the "hobbit house."

Hopefully Uncle Geoff will keep the blog going for awhile to help all of us deal with this temporary loss.

Cheryl said...

I was also at the funeral, and I met Natalie in person as well. I have a framed picture of the two of (one that was also on the table at the service) in my living room. I miss her everyday. It was a blessing to be able to say good-bye to her with her family and other loved ones.

Gracie's Heart said...

...from what I understand Geoff IS going to continue to re-post her old posts and hopefully some of his own (as we have encouraged him to do...cuz we do love hearing from him as well)

...I too wish we had met more family, but it was as it was, and I am very grateful that I was there.

In Him!