I am very late in receiving this news.
I am a long-time off-and-on member of the Absolute Write forums, the single most wonderful site ever to occupy a URL. Just as in non-virtual life, on a forum, you make friends, and you look up to a lot of members you may not know personally, but you know they're excellent people.
You never think they'll end up not being there.
I have never had a friend or family member die. Today, months late, I've discovered that two members of AW have passed away this past year, and I can no longer claim that happy ignorance.
I hope I'm not sounding sappy. This is... hard. I didn't know either member incredibly well, but both were well-loved in the AW community, and I've had interactions with both.
MacAllister, our wonderful admin, shared the news of AW's own CactusWendy's impending end with the board in April of this year. On the twenty-eighth, she passed away, surrounded by family. Wendy had this wonderful habit of greeting all the board newbies with this beautiful, personal question: "How do you like your popcorn?" She was a beader, as well, though she came to know the joy of the art very close to the end of her life. She was an amazing, kind person, and really brightened the community. I did not know her as well as I wish I could have.
Last month, we lost Steve Sarber, username smsarber. He used to post regularly on the Weekend Progress Report thread. He's one of the people I knew the best on AW. He struggled for a long, long time with a lot of health problems, but he always came back, until this August. I remember being absolutely shocked when I learned he was only in his 30s--with all the health issues, I had thought he was much older. He passed away at far too young an age, and left his dearly beloved family behind. He was always so upbeat and positive. Over the years, I received about half a dozen reps from him, all consisting of a single, whacky smiley. All made my day, and make my day every time I take a look at them. He really cared about everyone, even when he was going through all his own crazy ridiculousness. He always came back to AW, even when he wasn't feeling all that well.
I will always remember him as the guy who repped me a smiley urinating a smiley into the snow. Weird, but it made me laugh and cringe at the same time. He had a talent for brightening people's days. He was a great writer, a great AWer, and a great person.
So farewell, CactusWendy, and farewell, smsarber. I'm sorry my tribute comes late, but know it isn't any less heartfelt for it. I'm glad I knew you both.