Seven years ago today I lost a really good friend, taken far too young by cancer – she was just 45. I posted in her memory a year later and re-shared the piece in 2017. Thinking about this anniversary always brings me back to the early days of my blog, as Cyd was to me more than just a friend: she was an advisor, a kind of spiritual guide as I was taking my first tentative steps into the world of blogging. I doubt that many of you will have seen this post before, as most of you weren’t following my blog in 2016 or 2017, and I want to share it again both in her memory and as a kind of ‘why do we blog?’ piece. I’ll give you the original and then return at the end for a new comment or two. This is a slightly edited and shortened version of what I said back then:
Why am I here today? July 28th. Is it a special day in the calendar? No, not as far as I know, but it has special meaning for me. When I started this blog it was at the instigation of my counsellor, who wanted me to turn what I had been writing for him as part of our therapy sessions into a blog, for others to read. At around the time that I was going through this I met Cyd via Twitter and we became good friends. She was an amazingly creative and funny person, who had suffered much more than her fair share of the horrible things that life can throw at us, but bore it all with wit, courage, charm and determination. She was an accomplished blogger and photographer, she loved singing and dancing – she had been at stage school, which is where the photo at the top comes from – and became the most wonderfully supportive follower of my blog from when it first started, giving me loads of useful advice and constructive criticism. My sparing use of brackets is entirely down to her, and you’ll find the occasional comment from her on some of my early posts. We used to chat for hours about anything and everything. Throughout this period she was ill and being occasionally hospitalised, and this took a turn for the worse when she was diagnosed with cancer. But she recovered – so typical of her! Then life played its last and most cruel trick. Within weeks of being given the all clear she began to suffer debilitating migraines, which turned out to be brain cancer. Sadly, this was one battle too many, even for her, and she was taken from us on July 28th 2015, one year ago today, at the age of just 45. It seemed appropriate to mark this and to remember her, and this is the best way I know to do it.
I’ve always thought that Cyd was an outstanding writer, especially when you consider that many of her posts were written at a time when she was unwell – and was also facing online trolling, for reasons I never understood. Here’s a brief example of her writing:
“It has been truly tiring to have to deal with all this external nonsense, but I did anticipate it. Sadly, if you don’t do things in a way that other people do, they see you as someone with a hidden motive. I have nothing hidden. I live the way I live and I do it openly. I love who I love and I give that everything I have. To get through this, I have a three pronged approach. Aggressiveness towards the cancer itself. Love intensely and focus on that more than anything. I truly live for love. Last but by no means least, stay me. Laugh like I always did, don’t ever forget myself and don’t let others forget who I really am.”
That is from the final post she ever made, in October 2014, and is the perfect example of the way she lived. Sadly, her blog is private so I can’t give you a link to it.
Thinking of Cyd today has made me wonder whether you, if you are a fellow blogger, have someone without whose advice and support your blog might not exist, or may not have developed in the way that it did. We write for ourselves, and we write for our readers. But you may well have your own ‘Cyd’ who has helped you in ways which won’t be known to anyone but you. I have been having doubts about whether I should continue blogging but these have now gone, and that is in part because I have realised how much I owe it to myself to continue, as indeed I do to you, dear reader, and to people like Cyd who have helped me along the way. Over the past few months I have enjoyed the company here of many new readers, and have had much greater engagement with my posts than at any time since the very beginning. In return, I have been much more active in commenting on others’ blogs than I can ever remember, and I wouldn’t want to lose that sense of community. Cyd’s blog was one of the first I ever read, and it gave me an understanding of what blogging was about, and what it could be. I like to think that in these recent months I have really begun to put that understanding into practice, and look forward to continuing to do it.
I hope you can also recognise and give thanks for those who are or have been in your life and who have played a role in making you the writer that you are. In future, I’ll be more likely to think “what would Cyd have said?” about posts I write, and I hope that will improve them. Maybe her spirit can be my muse? And every time that happens, I will say a silent
“Thank you, for being there, and for having been a part of this.”
Back to 2022 now. As you will see from that piece, I had been questioning whether I should continue blogging. My posts in those days were much less frequent: now you get two or three a week, back then you were lucky (if that’s the right word?) to get one a month, but that was before the days when this became much more a music blog than anything else, though I do have my occasional ‘other’ moments, like this one. But I do still ask myself those questions – usually after a Tuesday Tunes post hasn’t gone down as well as they usually do! The answer is twofold: firstly, many of you will know that in tandem with posting more frequently myself I have become much better at interacting with the blogs I follow, and that community is important for all of us. Otherwise, we might all be asking why we do it! Secondly, I never forget those, like Cyd, who have assisted me with my writing and have, with their support and encouragement, helped me to become the vaguely competent blogger that you see now. You may have people who you feel like that about: we should recognise that we owe them a debt of gratitude, which we can best repay by continuing to enjoy what we do. If nothing else, I hope this piece gets you thinking about why you blog and to whom you might owe some thanks: we all need to take stock every once in a while.
One final word. I think it extremely unlikely that Cyd’s daughter, Taylor, will see this, but in that event I hope she will recognise that her Mum’s support and love have had an important effect for me, and that her memory lives on. We all need a Cyd to have that impact on our lives: even if they have been taken from us in the most unkind way they can remain a happy memory.