It's impossible to encapsulate Soj's life in a few words, but saying nothing at all would be even worse. The Dreams community was the fuel behind my belief in Second Life and Soj's faith kept all of us on track through some rough times.
I met The Sojourner in my first months of Second Life, back when I was still considering medicine as a career. I then realized something that may seem naive now...if you ever read about stroke in a biology book, you'll never know the whole truth: the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which every day, stroke survivors find themselves more limited than they were the day before. It's a feeling of uselessness, of anger at yourself and at the world that very few can conquer with as much dignity and patience as Soj did. She challenged herself and the obstacles her health placed in her way. With Second Life as a filter, I almost forgot that she was a bit slower or that she reacted to a social/technical change by falling apart. She focused so much on helping others that we, in turn, almost forgot the struggles she went through or that she only had a short amount of time to be with us.
The Soj I had met wasn't the person she was before stroke, or at least this is what she told us all. The truth is that stroke changes people – things you could do alone before, even simple things like reading the analog clock, need to be done with the help of someone else. I found this email I once sent to her:
“Often times I wish I had saved the many conversations we had. I am truly happy I met you, and even happier that you now have a part of your life that can make you feel like you have a purpose. I think the purpose was there all along, it just may be harder to adjust to it when you change from being the strong one into the one who needs support.“
I don't know about you, but Soj never felt like she was asking for help. She inspired strength and love, while taking in a little advice or care when she was discouraged. Second Life allowed her the freedom to be who she truly was, to keep being a nurturing, loving person, even when real life was very different.
The Sojouner ...despite her name, she is here for a lot more than just a day. I know a lot of us will fight to keep her dream alive. Let's hope we can be half as strong as she was for us. To place a tribute to her, please follow this link.
Labels: "the sojouner" "second life" "dreams" "community"