A thousand years ago, or so it seems sometimes, I stopped smoking cigarettes. And it was the most difficult thing I had ever done. Being a quintessential introvert, I found help with an online support group.
After I had joined, the very first person to write me back was Joyce Harrington. She wrote the loveliest most encouraging note, and I felt immediately welcome.
About a year later I was still trying to stop smoking, and realized that I had no choice but to just finally quit, whether I liked it or not, and to suffer through the horrible effects of withdrawal and general misery that go with quitting smoking. (It’s a terrible feeling, FYI.)
Joyce meanwhile had started smoking again and was going through the same thing more or less, so we decided to become Quit Buddies. And we both quit! We laughed, we cried, we craved nicotine, we posted in the group madly (well, I did that, Joyce was much more composed than I,) and in general got on with our newly smoke free lives.
Many people in that group knew Joyce much better than I, even though we wrote regularly. She lived in Manhattan, and those in the area, or who travelled there with some frequency, saw her off and on. I had entered seminary the next year and had no business in New York, until a few years ago.
One of my friends had joined the Conventual Friars of the Renewal, and was making his Solemn Profession. And it was in New York City!
I made plans to go and wrote Joyce and we made a date and had the best time finally meeting one another over an extended lunch on the Upper East Side near the Modern Museum of Art. I visited with her and her friend Myra. And I’ll cherish the memories forever.
Earlier this year I found out that Joyce had died, and I became very sad. I found one of her sons and we wrote about it, and then I found some mutual online friends and we grieved together. Whoever thinks that meeting people online is not real life, has some things to learn.
Joyce’s son Evan has put together a wonderful site devoted to his mother’s work. She was a successful novelist, and an Edgar Award winning mystery writer.
She was a wonderful writer, a beautiful person, and I knew her as a wonderful friend.