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One of us; we are all “one of us”


Goodness, it’s harder than it seems, to write stuff quite so personal somewhere beyond one’s personal blog (and even that takes some gumption at times). My first #PressForward post was to be part of a personal month-long topic of “Good Enough” across the various blogs and online places in which I’m involved. But instead it is with an even fuller heart that I felt it more appropriate to write this when one of our amazing WordPress community fell (to borrow Dan’s words) and a sadness held us through the following weeks, many of us, across the world.

A call went out to try to find Vaughan (who I always thought of as PilcrowPixie; it made me smile each time) as he’d unusually missed an engagement that day. One of his clients raised the call and the response within the Genesis Slack community and beyond was astonishingly supportive – a reflection on that particular group of people and on how respected and well-regarded Vaughan was, for his wit and online chats that while many of us may not have joined in with, we were there and enjoying such banter.

This autumn he’d stepped forward to support the WordCamp London 2019 team to lead accessibility. I was looking forward to getting to know him better and of course now there are the thoughts that pop into my head… Why did I not call him the other week to chat in more detail? Why did I not reach out directly to him and each of the team that missed the Monday meeting? And while I know such thoughts are pointless and would unlikely have made a difference, they still feel sad. And that’s fine – as another of our band shared – “it is OK to not be OK at a time like this, so whatever sharing is needed, is OK”.

Online, where so many of us know each other now, can be strange. It does not bother me that so many of my good friends are people I’ve yet to meet, or rarely (if ever) do offline – the online communities are to be celebrated rather than dismissed as “not real”. Not all of us can get out as much as we might like or might be expected – online is just as “real life”.

And this is what I wanted to share. That within several of the WordPress communities the feeling is strong; we know that people are there who care and we can just say “help” and people will respond. Heck, I did that myself recently, and I was supported. It made a difference, and Vaughan was actually one of those people. He knew we were here for him yet he made his own choice, for his own reasons. But here at Big Orange Heart we know more can be done and we will find a way to do that.

You will be missed, Vaughan Simons, but do you know, positive things will come from losing you – we see that there are things that need to happen with a self-employed person’s business, and as a loving community we want to help somehow – the family and the clients – just help. And also for me at least, I will be less afraid to get in touch and check in on people. I’ll annoy some, but others will be cool with that.

And whatever you’re up to today, be kind, always.

Photo by Renee Fisher on Unsplash

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