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Friday, January 17, 2014

Saying Goodbye to One of Our Own

Who could have imagined, even ten years ago, that men and women around the world would be linked together and form strong, genuine friendships that began by looking at a computer screen and connecting to a blog? And who could imagine that having one of these friends leave this world could be so heartbreaking?
Tonight I received an email from fellow bloggie Lisa with the sad news that one of our own, Diana Losciale, better known to bloggers as "Oh," author of "This Writing Life" (formerly titled, "Oh, Books! Oh Paper! Real Life!), passed suddenly, following a very brief and courageous battle with cancer.
I came to know Diana when we took part in Becca's "Write on Wednesday" posts early in my blogging days. (In fact, many of you WOW folks, I still follow!). I loved her blog because it was such a mix of joy, passion, musings and warmth. Her own exuberant personality and big heart jumped off the page with her keen observations of life and her deep love for books and writing.
Diana loved many things -- her writing and books, of course. But also paper arts, photography, fashion, coffee (definitely coffee), Paris (maybe next to coffee), Christmas, her dog Huck, Archie (her name for all squirrels), art and travel and above all, her family. And that was just the top layer. She would devour "Poets and Writers" or "The New Yorker" with the equal intensity as she would "Vogue."
She was also a writer, editing and marketing professional by trade and by freelance. When Diana was editing a prayer book for those dealing with cancer, she asked me to contribute. It was the first (and only) time my poetry has ever been published. I hope that during her illness, she looked at a copy of that small book and found comfort in it.
As we followed each other's lives online, we decided, along with Kerry, that we'd like to meet. So, the three of us -- from Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin -- convened in Chicago for a delightful weekend two-and-a-half years ago, a weekend filled with art, jazz, good food, better talk and a lot of sightseeing and of course, shopping. Diana wrote about it here, and here are my thoughts.
We all had complete confidence it would be fine -- but those we left at home wondered, "why in the world would these women who never met each other take a chance that they could spend a weekend together?" (Not to mention the potential that one of us could be an ax murderer!)
They needn't have worried. It was as though we'd known each other forever.
A year later, I visited Diana in St. Louis where we simply had the best time. Both Christmas nuts, we first fortified ourselves with a fabulous lunch, then hit three great shops that had just put up their displays. (In fact, as I put the things I bought this year, I thought of that wonderful day when we were both like kids in candy stores.) We marveled at the beauty of the butterfly garden.
 I couldn't help thinking, what a perfect venue for Diana. Every butterfly was lovely, colorful, in motion -- just like she was. Diana was in flight -- savoring every beautiful flower, special moment, bright day. 
We did a lot of photography that day...
... including a selfie.
And we talked non-stop about anything and everything.It was simply glorious.
It's funny, but Diana is around a lot in my space. A postcard she sent "just because" of the Eiffel Tower hangs above my computer. "I'm thinking of making a quiche today," she wrote."Something has me thinking of France. Maybe we should do a blog meet-up in Paris."
Wheat that she gave me during that St. Louis visit, left over from the displays at her daughter's wedding, is in a vase on my desk, moved this place and that at different seasons. She's just "there."
Lisa said Diana had cancer surgery in November. I didn't know this, and sure couldn't tell from her Christmas card with a long note ending "We didn't get together this fall, but look forward to a rendezvous in the future. More later!")
Yes, I am shocked. And heartbroken.
We all get on the blog, we share our stories, we learn of others' lives and passions. We mourn their losses -- of jobs of health, of loved ones; we rally to support them when life is challenging. We care. With every comment we build relationships. Relationships that are stronger than we know or realize.
But I realize it tonight like I never did before.
There is a new star in the heavens and it is bright, witty and it's going to twinkle more than most all of the others. It is called Diana.

(As I went through Diana's blog tonight, I copied some excerpts from her posts to share so if you aren't familiar with her writing, you may discover it. I have to say, it was very hard to choose, so these are snippets from just a few of her many posts. I am not sure how long her family will keep it active. I hope for a very long time, because I know it's a place I would love to return.)

From "Big Doings" (May 6, 2011) 

Would I have ever thought that planning a wedding could be so much fun? It’s magical.  The world has turned a different color, has taken on a new shine and everyone, absolutely everyone, loves love and rings and real weddings and ideas. Including Snarl – he is quietly proud of his sister! And he has graduation on the horizon so we get to escape to U town to celebrate and party for a weekend and cheer for him. 
 

From "Sunday Summer a.m."(May 29, 2011)

Neighborhood humans are already turning on their air conditioners whose hum hits more of a bass F, an odd counterbalance to the nymph cicadas song which is at least the F above Middle C. It is a stream of sound. Those cicadas who are closer or older or bigger perhaps only by days, have learned to make the sawing, cheeping sound we recognize usually in the height of summer evenings. It is a male chorus. It is part of the “look at me” mating cycle of life.

Mother Nature has lifted her skirts so far this year, showing us some very odd ankle, some very rude knees, and a flash of crazy thigh. She is  dramatic, dangerous and petulant. She is not purposeful. She just is. 

And she is kind to offer this magnificent morning.
This crazy orchestra, this warm light, this buzz and concert of her creatures to this empty nester. That’s the sociologist’s term, though.

There is very little of “emptiness” in this nest.
Onward.
 

From "Holiday Writing Non-Whirl" (December 3, 2011)

So as I write and sip at the dawn of this weekend morning and gaze at the boxes of Christmas lights that will somehow spring to order and stage themselves for outdoor and indoor decor, and wonder about getting out there into the holiday fray, a great deal of which I really do enjoy, but moments in Blogland are  holiday-precious and full of friends and friends-that-would-be if actually here.

From "When Snow is a Good Thing" (December 29, 2012)

 With no camera at hand, there was nothing more than memory to capture the moments of the snow: the delight as though we were in a huge carriage; the gladness for a warm coat; the reflections from fogged home-y windows sporting wreaths and lit garlands; the silence of the snow as tho’ all were paused, listening for the sound of snowflake on  trees; the quick memory of snow as a child and the wish to rush off and find a sled; the way laughter sounds in the thick white air; the “hush” that comes with holiday giving us time, giving us some sort of shelter in which to ponder all that is good and all that can be good.

  From "Summer Drinks" (Sept. 17, 2012)

Little Archie comes creeping, creeping on little fingered paws. She’s come nearly every morning (that Í’ve been looking) for a drink, taking the same path, taking the same pauses midway.She’s a third gen nearby-tree squirrel as far as I can tell and she often travels alone tho’ I think she has two brothers. Very wary and very fleet, she is. This birdbath (or was it really for holding seeds? We don’t know)…anyway, this birdbath used to be Huck’s outdoor drinking bowl in the summer. So he thought. He lapped up the water whether it was hot or cold, fresh from the hose. Which is partly why we are not annoyed or astounded that Archie sips here. Huck wouldn’t have cared. We are tickled to see a critter braving the wall and sitting up to put her paws on the side of the bowl to drink. 

Then she scampers off to eat her fill of sunflower hulls and hominies.
 

From "Moving Around" (January 12, 2013)

The trouble with organizing stuff is that once it’s all in a nice tidy stack, on a shelf or in a drawer, so much thought and exertion went into achieving that cleaning-and-tidying that you feel finished with it and may not return to any of the now-organized matter…whereas a lovely old desk piled with tasks and treasures in a more casual manner, off to one side in such a manner if it’s a very large desk therefore leaving workspace, offers up treats, surprises and reminders as you muck through it, all the while aware of and ready to tackle whatever is the major task at hand.
Ya gotta love it, all the comforts of Sunday, wherever you can find them, as you teeter on the precipice of Work Tomorrow. While America is glad to have a job, sometimes the schedule just makes you want to put the typical time compendium on tilt and run it your own way.   As the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey says, “What’s a weekend?” I am intrigued by how such a character, if real, would actually measure time.
Perhaps not at all.
And that sounds like a fine idea to me.
 

From "Crushing Cuties into Potion " (January 6, 2013)

They were left on the counter, having somehow escaped the holiday feasting madness…five little cuties…all alone…one of them was rather hard, its juice having gone somewhere, seeping through its skin maybe, I dunno. But it was rock hard and refused the juicing I was about to give the other four…because there’s magic in that juice…and writers can always use a little magic.
 
Be at peace, my friend.

46 comments:

anno said...

What a terrible shock -- I'm so sorry to hear this news. I always enjoyed Diana's observations on life, whether expressed in words or in photographs. She was a lovely person and a lovely writer, and I will miss her. Thanks for this beautiful tribute, Jeanie.

Jeanie said...

What a beautiful tribute to someone who was such a true friend to you. I am so sorry for this personal loss to you and for the loss of a special woman and an inspired writer.

The Old Parsonage said...

Oh Jeanie

I am sorry to hear about Diana. I hadn't had the pleasure of visiting her blog, but from what you've shared today she was an amazing woman.

Big Hugs and Prayers to her family, friends and you my friend.

xo
Leann

Deb said...

I'm so sorry to read this, Jeanie. That must have been a huge shock. She was surely too young to leave us but you now have some wonderful memories of time spent together and you will always cherish them. Sending a hug your way. Deb

I need orange said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

What a shock -- coming out of the blue like that.

Sending hugs.

Joanne Huffman said...

I'm sorry for your loss. I'm often in awe of the strength and intensity of the friendships formed through blogging. It has certainly enriched our lives. How nice to have had the rich friendship you enjoyed. I hope the happy memories give you strength to get through your sorrow.

Rosa said...

What a beautiful tribute, Jeanie. I did not have the pleasure of "meeting" Diana, but I feel her love of life in your post. Yes, our blog friends are true friends, through and though. I am so sorry for the loss. Hugs.

Marilyn said...

Oh I am so sorry! I didn't know her, but remember your post about meeting up with Diana. What a special lady she must have been. I am so glad you knew her. Sometimes I worry that we make these friendships online and wouldn't know if something happened and they faded away. Sending you hugs! and to her family too!

Barb said...

Jeanie, Hugs to you as you mourn the loss of your good blog friend. She sounds like one of a kind - a special flicker of light.

Bella Rum said...

I had no idea. Thank you for letting us know, Jeanie. I enjoyed Diana's blog very much. Much like your blog, I always felt lighter when I left it than when I arrived. Beautiful tribute, Jeanie. My deepest sympathy to her family.

Willow said...

So sorry to hear your blogger friend Diana had passed. I didn't know Diana's blog, but your post about her had an impact on me. A wonderful tribute.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. I am heart broken. I, too, received a nice note in my Christmas card with questions about France and an open invitation to visit at any time. I loved Diana so much and just hated sharing this news with you. I honestly composed an email earlier this week when she was in the ICU but deleted it because I thought there was no way we would lose her so I didn't want to be dramatic only to say 'never mind, all is fine'. My heart just breaks for the family and I wish I lived closer so that I could be there for them physically.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Oh, Jeanie! I'm so sorry to hear about Diana's death! She was such a talented, insightful,wonderful woman who will be very much missed. What a shocking and unexpected loss for you, too, of this very real friend.
Your tribute to her is beautiful and the excerpts from her blogs so touching and such a gift to us!

Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Dear Jeanie,
I am so sorry to read that you have lost a dear friend, and my thoughts and prayers go out to you and her family.
blessings,
Penny

Arti said...

Thank you Jeanie for this deeply moving tribute to Oh. I'd enjoyed my virtual friendship and book read-along with Oh, the latest being Anna Karenina just last year. I'd never imagined virtual reality in the blogosphere can be so true and feelings so real, that upon one's passing, we all share the loss so deeply. I'll treasure our virtual friendship even more from this day on. Diana will be sorely missed.

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I did not know Diana. But her beautiful words paint a picture of a beautiful soul. You have written a lovely tribute to your friend. Blessings to you and to her family.

Beth Leintz said...

Jeanie, I'm so sorry for your loss, but so glad for all the friendships we've been able to make through blogging. My thoughts are with you.

Retired English Teacher said...

Oh Jeanne, my heart hurts for you and for all of Diana's family and friends. I do think blogging friends become so very special to us. I truly don't know how I would handle it if one my very special blogging friends suddenly passed on.

Jeanie, I am sure that the exuberance that you show for life must have matched the exuberance that seems to leap off the screen from the writings of Diana that you have shared with us. Her joy of life also radiates from the photos you have included of her. I'm so glad the two of met and became "flesh" friends.

Hugs to you, dear friend. This is an absolutely beautiful tribute that you have paid to this special person. Again, I am filled with gratitude for blogging and the people we meet out there. Thank you for sharing all of this with us.

Jenny Woolf said...

What a lovely tribute to a very special person. It is strange the way we can meet total strangers through the internet and make friends of them, learn from them, admire them and look forward to their company. It was brave of her not to tell anyone she was suffering but in a way that adds to the shock when you find out. I was very sad to hear of the death of a blogger Dave King. He was one of those people who seems to think in poetic terms without trying, and I loved his approach to life. His unusual voice is now lost and I wish he could have published some of his poems in tangible form. I'm glad Diana got to edit that book, you can be sure she gained some comfort from it, specially as it was her own choice of poetry.

Sally Tharpe Rowles said...

I am so sorry for this tragic loss. You have created a very moving tribute.

paris parfait said...

So terribly, terribly sad. I didn't know Diana, but it seems she was a very special woman. Big hugs to you! xx

Beth M. said...

Friendships amid computers, indeed--who would have thought? :)

Jeanie, I'm so moved with how you've chosen to honor your friend in this post. Even if each of your penchants for online storytelling hadn't drawn you together, it was the best medium to share your story. I feel like I know this person now, that I'm connected to her, too. It's not fair that she's gone (but is it ever fair?). Still, her connection to you is alive as long as you nurture it. And you have...in a very beautiful way. <3

Beth M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Jeanie, I'm so sorry you have lost a wonderful friend. Thank you for sharing her with us through these extraordinary excerpts and all the lovely photos. Her blog really buzzed with inspiration!

Nancy said...

I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your friend....Friends are special jewels that enter our lives to enrich them....It certainly sounds like she enriched all she met....

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

I am so sorry to hear of her passing, and I came by way of my beloved friend Penny on whose blog I saw your comment. I generally never read other people's comments they leave on someone else's blog, but I happen to see yours. It made me need to come by.

I have been blogging for six years now, and needless to say, I have formed some of the most meaningful friendships I've ever had. The fact that we take the time to create from our heart's pounding need to share our love of art, nature, creativity in general, and then to share it then the ultimate thing happen: WE FIND KINDRED SPIRITS.

I tell you, I don't know what I would do if any of my dear friends were to no longer be there. I wish you peace as you work through this shock, and continue to make a difference in this virtual and actual world. Anita

beth said...

how sad....such a short life and damn that cancer....
but what a gift you received by getting to know her in real life...and what a beautiful tribute jeanie. she's up there smiling down on you!!...xo

Kitty said...

Dearest Jeanie. As I read what you wrote and while I read your clips from Diana's blog, I found tears running down my face. She was a blessing to you and all who knew her. May her memory continue to bless you in the years to come. She is with God now, and I pray that you also find His peace.

Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Dear Jeanie,
How very thoughtful of you to come by and leave such a sweet note for me.. If they made you smile and lifted your spirit, even just a little, that is all I need to hear..
Please know that I keep you in my thoughts and prayers..
bless you,
Penny

Tracy said...

Oh, Jeanie... I'm so very, very sorry for the loss of your friend Diana... Hoping you in my heart in prayer, and wishing Diana well on the next journey now. Blogging and blogging friendships have a way of transforming our lives in many wonderful ways. I'm so happy you were blessed with Diana in your life. I didn't know Diana, but almost feel I did now after this beautiful tribute... :o) ((LOVE & HUGS))

Keicha Christiansen said...

Jeanie,

I'm so sorry for your loss. Your words about Diana are beautiful and really convey what a fun, talented and beautiful person she was. How hard to lose such a treasured friend.

What you said about the friendships and connections we develop through our blogs is so true. Although we've never met I consider you a cherished friend and am so lucky to know you.

Take care and know that I'm sending love and comforting thoughts your way.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I didn't know Diana but reading this really touched me deeply. It's really something how we develop deep connections in the blogging world isn't it?

Nat Palaskas said...

Jeanie, this is too sad for word. I just want you to know I visited. Lovely post, thanks - hugs Nat

Shelia said...

Jeanie, I'm so sorry to hear about your blogging friend. I'm sorry I didn't know her and she sounded like she was a jewel. I'll be praying for her family and you.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

~*~Patty S said...

What a beautiful tribute to your sweet friend dear Jeanie...

Thank you for sharing her with those of us who did not know her...

your words are beautiful and it's so true about connections and how very powerful they are...

I am so sorry at the loss of Diana...

we are here
and then we are gone...
living on in he♥rts and minds always...

words fail me just now....
(((hugs))) to you Jeanie
oxo

Mitzi said...

I'm so sorry to hear of anyone losing a battle with cancer....what a terrible disease! Diana's writing and images were truly beautiful and should be a testament to her lovely spirit. It's amazing how blogging can connect people from all over the world....I think it's wonderful!

DearHelenHartman said...

It is a blessing to connect and become part of a community of bloggers. Your tribute to your friend is lovely.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

And thank YOU Jeanie, for taking the time to come and visit today! Beauty and most of all LOVE, to you!!! Anita

Relyn Lawson said...

I read this, and inspite of the saddness, I think how blessed we are by blogging. How marvelous to make so many friends our regular life might not lead us to.

BECKY said...

Jeanie, what a beautiful tribute to Diana. (I clicked on one of the posts you shared, and it took me there, of course, but I can't seem to figure out how to get to the most current post. I didn't see a "Home" thing to click on.) I understand your loss. Even though I haven't met most of my blog friends in person, I consider us REAL friends, like family, like sisters. I was so fortunate to be able to meet FOUR blog friends in the Atlanta area a couple of years ago. We sat and talked just like we'd been friends since high school! I never doubted that it would be any different, either. My husband didn't "get it," though! :)
Again, I'm so sorry for your loss, and especially since it was so sudden. I think you and I have talked about getting together some day, too. I do hope we can!

Jennifer Richardson said...

oh Jeanie.
I'm sorry.
So, so sorry.
no more words.
-Jennifer

Mary Jo Blackwood said...

Thanks for doing that tribute. I found it when I Googled Diana. She was one of my dearest friends and a true writing friend here in St. Louis. We used to teach writing workshops together and now just get together to talk about writing. We were planning another workshop for April! She will be so missed. Mary Jo Blackwood: agingwithpizzazz.blogspot.com

Linda J said...

Mary JO sent me your link, and it was, indeed, a beautiful tribute. Di was my best friend. We wrote together, did workshops, and she encouraged me in my writing. It is said that "no one is irreplaceable." Well, she is. I have a hole in my heart, but - when I'm writing - I can hear her whispering in my ear, giving me fits. I will miss her always.

deb said...

I am a friend of Diana's in St. Louis. Your words echo in my heart. Diana talked about all of her writing friends with passion. Tomorrow we celebrate her life at the memorial service.
Several years ago, as an acquisitions editor, I needed someone to collect and edit prayers for the Pink Prayer Book. Diana said YES, without hesitation. What a brilliant job on that book and on the next collection.
My husband worked with Diana (their offices were next door to one another) and I was jealous that I didn't get to see Diana every day like he did.
Diana inspired me, cheered me on, encouraged me, and made me laugh. Her voice rings in my ears still, and her love weaves rings around my heart. I now she is still cheering us all on now.
Thank you, Jeanie, for the thoughtful post about your friendship with Diana. You know Diana, she'd be so happy we've met.

Heather said...

Thank you so much for your comment on my blog. Her friendship meant so much to me as I know it did to all her friends. I remember her talking about her trip to Chicago to meet you and how much fun she had. I too have Diana mementos around me, at my desk at work and at home. Even after a year, I miss Diana terribly.

madame bousquet said...

For years I've been haunted by Diana, who I knew with a different last name. She was my French teacher, and not for enough years. Because of her, I learned French, lived in France, teach French. And always, always, I dream of her, hoped I'd see her again. Over the years I've tried to find her, but wasn't using the right last name, a name I should have guessed. Tonight while writing, I looked up Richard Losciale and discovered I'd lost my dear French teacher when I might have found her again, if I'd only thought harder about what her last name might have become. I would have loved her to know that I, too, followed the path from teaching French to writing and art. I would have loved to have known her as a person and not my teacher who I respected and adored so much.

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