Back in 1998, in the days of the old Christian Senior chat room, I met Lona. She was the first "Internet" person I truly trusted, and I felt I knew her before I ever met her face to face.
Lona is opposite me in many ways: She's outgoing, has dozens (probably hundreds) of friends, is active in her church, plays bridge every week, and has been to many exotic places with her late husband. She still does plenty of traveling with friends and family.
In the real world, the two of us would never have met, even if we had we lived in the same area; we move in totally different types of circles.
But in the Internet world, we have discovered things in common: we're both only children (although I have an older half-sister... but I was raised like an only child); we both have naturally curly hair (for a long time we laughed at how we seemed to get our hair cut during the same week); we have some childhood similarities in our church upbringing; and many of our politics, values and beliefs are the same.
So much the same that, back when we spent hours in that chat room, she and I would type the same opinion almost word for word, and enter it into the room at the same time. Lona said we were twin sisters, only she just happened to be a few years older than I.
I've spent the night at her house. I've ridden shotgun in her Town Car when it was brand new, going to a chat room get-together in North Carolina, and I've flown with her to Virginia to spend a few days with our friend Sue.
So for some eight years now, Lona has been on my buddy list. We don't instant message that often, since I hate IMs. We don't visit on the phone because I don't enjoy talking on the phone. But if she's at home, her name is usually there with the "away" message up, and it's a comfort to see her where she belongs. When she leaves for any length of time, or when she retires for the night, her name blinks off my list.
Yesterday morning I sent her an e-mail asking a question. Her name was on, so I expected an answer soon. This morning her name was still there, but my e-mail had not been answered.
I located a mutual friend of mine and Lona's, Cindy, in a public AOL room, and went there to ask her if she had heard anything from our friend. She had not, but said she'd call and check on her. Now, Lona has three daughters who call her daily, not to mention her many friends nearby; so I wasn't concerned that she was ill and alone. I just knew something wasn't right.
Cindy found out Lona went to the hospital Sunday and is now back home, "sick with an inflamed colon, and in much pain".
If anybody ever deserved prayers, it's my friend Lona. So I'm requesting prayers and good thoughts sent her way.