Anna, Richard Armitage, and the meta-issue: Where will grace take us next?

I never anticipated this.

Gmail makes it easy — I can easily search for every word I exchanged with Anna. Much of what’s in my correspondence with her is hard to talk about — even if it relates to Armitagemania — so I can’t talk about the specific things that are making me cry at the moment — many of them ironies. That someone in her situation would write to console me about my own, for instance. In retrospect: who should have understood better than she?

I wish she had been able to let me console her as she consoled me; I wish she had let me understand her even as she let me be understood. But maybe she needed that; maybe she needed to be in control. Maybe she needed to think about the possibility that someone would console her daughters in the way that she consoled me.

I wish I could publish some of the extremely meaningful things she wrote to me.

This is the thing — and I’m sure it’s occurred to everyone (beyond the people who met her in New Zealand): I didn’t know her. Aside from the fact that I had just a few exchanges, I never met her. I “know” people who met her, but I can’t produce a “degrees of separation” chart for her because even the people I know who met her — I never met them in the flesh.

I sit at my computer for much of the work day and much of my free time. I’m not short of “real life” friends — in fact, I said to Pesky yesterday that I have more real friends than I can keep track of, in all the different settings I’ve lived in in my life — but there’s something about computer friends that I can’t really explain.

[As I write this — a former student whom I taught as a freshman writes on FB to announce that she passed her doctoral defense. It’s been a hard road for her but she “will overcome.” Let us rejoice with those who are rejoicing …]

Something happens, and the computer makes a little beeping noise — to remind us to take notice.

I reread my correspondence with Anna and I sobbed. Because she wrote to me about my mother’s situation. Because she tried to console me about other things happening. Because she had specific advice about specific situations.

Because about an hour ago a virtual friend who knows me only because of this blog wrote to say, “I need your help with something.”

Because about nine months ago virtual friends who “knew” something was wrong contacted me and put together a “help” team.

Because, in Meri’s words, “I came into this RA related world with not much else on my mind other than perving at Richard to be brutally honest.
Now after 6 months, I find I’m concerned about people I may never ever meet in my life, I worry over their health and family issues even though I am so far away and can offer no real support, only cyber hugs and words of encouragement.”

Because last night, when I told Pesky about this and said, I can’t believe that the reassurance of someone who consoles me via an untraceable handle means this much, he took me in his arms and hugged me till I could breathe normally again.

We fall into this hole of enchantment with the label “Richard Armitage” on it, and we enthuse about Richard Armitage and we write about Richard Armitage and because we have no faces and no bodies and no pasts and no futures, we share our secrets …

We can help each other because in this weird decontextualized world in which our actual commitments are unknown or mostly don’t mattter, we can actually speak over fences, jump over boundaries, ignore judgments of each other we might have made otherwise.

We can look at each other honestly precisely because we don’t “see” each other.

Maybe if I’d have met Anna in person, I’d have discovered some dealbreaker. Maybe she’d have expressed some political opinion I just can’t live with. But in this world around Richard Armitage, we could be friends. She could teach me things I might not have heard otherwise.

In our fandom for Richard Armitage, we discover other commonalities and we work to free each other.

As the partner of my Ph.D. student wrote in her FB response to her partner’s announcement of a successful defense:

Where will grace take us next?

In loving Armitage, we come to love.

This enmeshment. I don’t know what to say. But please. Grace. Take me further, G-d. Take me further, friends.

Take me further.

~ by Servetus on May 6, 2013.

21 Responses to “Anna, Richard Armitage, and the meta-issue: Where will grace take us next?”

  1. Lovely. Yes. Stripped of our myriad labels, we can talk compassion with each other very naturally.

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  2. Thank you dear Servetus for this insightful post. Tears rolled down my cheek when I learned about Annas departure this morning although, like you, I’ve never met her on RL and I was prepared for that particular bit of sad news.

    It is strange how connected we can feel to people we’ve never met in person. I think Anna was a kind-hearted, fun-loving person. Glimpses of her personality were visible online as well. She touched many of us over a longer period of time, only briefly in the virtual realm or when making our friends feel very welcome in NZ. Richard may be the common denominator but it’s every single person that touches our heart…

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  3. Only connect . . .

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  4. It is a truly strange world, the real one as much as the virtual RA world we inhabit. I cannot say that I knew Anna *at all* but somehow even the show of solidarity in the face of her passing has inspired me to reach out to someone I only know virtually from the wider fandom and who needs help. I didn’t even think twice about it, I just took the steps at alleviating her situation. It’s no coincidence that that happens today, in the wake of the news about Anna. Somehow I want to thank her for making me feel compassion and caring. Too sentimental?
    Grace is good. The universe is grace. The universe is good!

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  5. ((Servetus))

    Isn’t it more than a little ironic to consider that for some:

    Giving love is easy. Receiving love is hard.
    Giving help is easy. Asking for help is hard.
    Seeing the Divine in others is easy.
    Accepting the same in yourself is hard.

    What can often make giving easier is that in giving, we feel the light of the Divine moving through us as we pass it along to another (or hey, is it just me that feels this way??) ;).

    Your moments of darkness, crisis, and despair were all gifts to Anna. They granted her the license to pass the light of her life and love on to you.

    In fact, to all of us.

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  6. The internet is a funny beast. It has enabled us to come in contact with people we’d never ever encounter in our ‘real’ life, and before you know it, you’ve connected with a virtual stranger. And at times that stranger knows your story, your pain, joy and search better than anyone else who is physically close to you. You care about them as much as anyone else, you look forward to hearing from them, despite the fact you might never meet this person face to face.

    At the heart of it you’ve connected with a real person on the other end of an internet connection. And when that person falls away due to illness or otherwise, it hurts. It is this moment where virtual becomes real.

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  7. Beautifully said! Very heartfelt and moving.

    Thinking about our friendships because of Richard Armitage reminds me of a shadow boxes quote my “real” sister gave me for being her matron of honor. But I think this saying also fits for us (RA fangirl friends):

    “Chance made us sisters. Hearts made us friends.”

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  8. This is beautiful, and beautifully said. ❤ I can't think of words to describe how it made me feel.

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  9. Everyone has expressed their sorrow so eloquently. Perhaps the qualities we all see in RA bind us together in an emotional and spiritual way,not just as fans but as caring people. I don’t know, but one description of RA that keeps reoccurring in blogs I read (excluding hot and the like) is kind. Is the kindness we see in RA really the kindness we see in each other? Does anonymity allow us to share thoughts and vulnerabilities we suppress in our “real” lives? Probably, in my case at least. I feel so fortunate to connect with all of you, even if it’s only electronically.

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  10. Such a beautifully worded post Servetus and so many lovely comments above. I cannot put into words how you have all made me feel. Getting to “know” so many wonderful people through Richard Armitage has added so much to my life and I feel so very blessed because of it. Thank you all.

    May I just add that I’m loving the “eyelashes”?

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  11. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t know Anna or her situation, but I think I saw her in passing on Twitter as I’m only on the edges of this fandom……

    She must have been a very special person to be so deeply loved, and to have inspired such beauty of thought and feeling in so many.

    My sincere condolences to those of you who did know her and have such positive remembrances on the loss of a dear friend.

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  12. I ‘knew’ Anna only via her tweets and might shared some words with her that I can’t remember now, but her passing and the reaction of the people in the fandom moved me deeply yesterday and I am moved again today by your words Servetus and all the comments above.
    I hope her family wil be able to find some sort of comfort that she was loved and will be missed!

    I am not good in expressing my thoughts and feelings – so much worse in another than my native language – so I am not a big contributor in the fandom but nevertheless it makes me happy that RA has such a wonderful impact on so many of us and that people look out for each other and share their joy and their sorrow….

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  13. Thanks for all these amazing, lovely comments — which moved me again when I read them just now.

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  14. This is such a lovely post. Bitterweet, heartfelt and beautiful. One of my favorites that you’ve written.

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  15. […] 2012. Anna died slightly later in 2013, and I wrote a brief memorial here and a longer one here, when I had had a chance to think. I still think of her and miss her emails to […]

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  16. […] [Servetus adds: these photos always make me think of Anna.] […]

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