I was cruising the 'Net one day in February 2005 when I decided to google an author whose books I really enjoyed. Rebecca Wells wrote The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere. These books tell the stories of four women, starting from when they were 4 years old until they are grandmothers, with lots of sassiness and love in between. The stories are about mothers and daughters, boyfriends, women and their husbands and parents, but mostly it was about their friendship.
Anyway, I learned on that fateful day that Ms. Wells was about to come out with a new book, Ya Yas in Bloom. As I looked on the page for a release date, I saw a tab called Gumbo Ya Ya. I was curious, so I clicked.
I entered the message board devoted to Ya Ya and learned that there were members/posters from every state in the Union, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, England, and all over Europe too.
Within a month of my joining the board, I saw a "Shout-Out" with several members names, including my own. MY VERY FIRST SHOUT-OUT!! To make a long story short, this is the group that I travel with every year, the group that carried me through my surgery and my divorce; the ones that make me laugh till I wept and tell me get over myself when I'm wallowing in self-pity. I met them in Atlanta in August of 2005, in Montana in August of 2006 and in Pittsburgh in June of 2007. They are all coming, hopefully, to Brooklyn for New Years.
There's also another whole group of women (and a few men) who have been so important to me. They too prayed for me when I was in the hospital after complications from my gastric bypass. They rejoiced when FRU learned to read and even sent her books to practice (I'll never forget that kindness, JC!!). They wanted to know if I had met anyone special and told me to forget the losers.
In turn, I got to rejoice in babies being born. I prayed for the ill. I sent out good job search vibes. I got about a million recipes (Ya Ya's love to cook, you see). I got fashion advice. I gave make-up advice. I saw beautiful wedding pictures. I heard of a love story that started on Gumbo with ended with two people completely devoted to one another that they give me hope.
And perhaps the greatest lesson I learned at Gumbo is about gratitude. There's a special section where one can list the things that they are grateful for on any given day. I have been grateful for many things...but always for the love in my life. I am thankful that I have many kinds of love in my life and I give many kinds of love. "Love, in all its forms" has become my standard closing. Everyday, I post my gratitude and every night, when I pray, I thank God for love, in all its forms.
We had our dust-ups, but I prefer to not dwell on that now.
And now it's over. The publisher of the Ya Ya books is closing down Gumbo Ya Ya, effective April 21. I swear, I feel like the rug has been yanked out from under me. This is what the last week of summer camp felt like. You want to make the best of it, but you can't help but be sad.
It's the end of an era for me. I have other places to post, many have the same close friends. But it won't be the same. It's like when you move and you have to put furniture in different rooms and it never had the same feel. It will be comfortable, just different.
I had a little over 3 great years on Gumbo. I can't complain, I suppose I would have like it to go on, but alas, it can't.
Will the last one out turn the light off?