On Monday of this week I joined a few thousand friends all around the world to comfort each other and share stories of a wonderful woman who made a difference in the lives of everyone she met. Our friend Cathie Wagner died November 18, 2009 due to complications of the H1N1 virus.
Cathie was a teacher for almost 30 years in Columbiana, Ohio. The day of her funeral, the school district closed down in her honor so that everyone could attend the service. She was a remarkable woman.
I never met Cathie face to face. We met on the internet and interacted via message boards, Twitter and email. Her warm and welcoming manner made an immediate and lasting impression as did her sense of humor and her generous spirit. Cathie served as president of the Crystal Chappell Fan Club for many years and I was one of its more recent members. During the past year this fan club has grown by leaps and bounds, bringing new members from all around the globe as the Otalia story on Guiding Light, featuring Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia became more and more popular. The club has continued to grow with the announcement that Chappell would be producing Venice, a new webseries, with her partners, Kim Turrissi and Hope Royaltey. Cathie took it all in stride, taking a personal interest in each member, seeing that their membership materials arrived in the mail and all arrangements were handled for the annual fan club luncheon.
When I met my friends online to mourn Cathie's passing and, virtually speaking, cry on each other's shoulders, I was struck by the fact that, like Cathie, I've never met most of them in person. And yet, we talk every day on Twitter and on internet message boards.
I am aware that I will probably never know the full story of many of my online friends or meet them face to face. I know that among their number are crisis counselors, teachers, housewives, ministers, IT specialists, law enforcement personnel, and even a cardiac surgeon. They know that I'm a housewife, a mother, the wife of a minister, an artist.
We have become part of each other's daily lives. Some I know better than others. Some are in the US, some in other countries. Some seek my advice and I ask for theirs. We come together to support causes we believe in, to support each other in times of need and to support the actors we love from our favorite soap operas.
Just me and a few thousand friends, making a difference in our world.
This is why a soap opera is never just a soap opera.