Two years ago I stumbled across a website called www.MyNerdGirl.com and when I did, I started a long distance friendship with the site’s founder Cindy Marie Harney (aka Cindy Chaney). In April 2009 I published an interview with Cindy on The Magical Buffet website. This introduced my readers to a vivacious woman. An intelligent woman willing to take risks with a great sense of humor. The very next month I learned that my new friend suffered from Lupus, and so despite my publicly documented aversion to raising money for walk/runs for causes, I personally donated to Team Cindy and encouraged others to do so.
Although absent from the site in 2010, Cindy and I still kept in touch thanks to the all powerful Facebook. Even though I knew she was struggling with her health, she always projected a positive, upbeat image. While I gripe about my endless strings of doctor’s appointments, Cindy would publicly celebrate her new adjustable bed or upgraded scooter. I admired, and was jealous of, her always glass half full outlook.
In April 2011 Cindy reappeared on The Magical Buffet, again when raising money for Team Cindy’s Lupus walk/run. When I first learned of Cindy’s Lupus she had difficulty walking for extended periods and had to give up dancing, by this year she was suffering from stage four kidney and lung failure and was unable to attend the walk personally. However Cindy had been writing, and she approached me about publishing one of her essays on The Magical Buffet. In June of this year “What I Learned from Bin Laden” was published on the site. “Bin Laden” shared a part of her past I had never known and revealed Cindy to be, in spite of everything, an idealist and dreamer. She ended the essay quoting John Lennon and saying, “Perhaps if we are able to operate in the consciousness of total oneness and abundance, and without the need, desire, and want to compete, then we could have peace. As I write this I am making a pledge to myself to never let others make me question what I know is right, to be true to my soul, to allow myself to imagine what Lennon envisioned, to not let others fear influence me, and to wave my PACE flag for the entire world to see. Will you join me?” Cindy’s essay boasted some of the highest numbers in readers and commenters ever for a post on the site.
Back in April, when hearing about Cindy’s deteriorating health, I wrote, “I can’t read those words and not feel a welling up of rage. I won’t mention anyone by name, but at least one of the women I work with a lot for The Buffet suffers from a chronic pain condition, I myself suffer from several yet to be effectively diagnosed and treated health conditions, and here I find that Cindy, a woman who I would readily describe as one of the ‘best of the best’ is in hospice care. I can’t help but feel there is a war on women right now, and we’re all losing.”
I’m here today with sad news friends, in October we lost, we lost again. Cindy Marie Harney passed away after years of battling Lupus. If you are reading this post at 4pm eastern on Saturday, November 12, 2011, you are virtually attending a memorial being held for friends and family of Cindy’s in Orange, CA. Sadly I could not be there in person, but somehow felt a friendship forged and maintained thanks to the internet being honored online was a fitting substitute.
When reflecting on what to say, I considered going to Cindy’s friends and trying to learn more about her past and life outside of the internet. However I stopped myself. To do so would imply that the friendship we shared online was somehow “lacking”, was somehow not as “special” or “important” as those she had offline. I would never say that, ever. Cindy touched a lot of lives and regardless of whether those people were online or off, she’ll be missed by everyone of us.