In Memoriam
4th Mar 2018, 11:00 PM
In Memoriam
Average Rating: 0 (0 votes) Rate this comic
<< >>
Author Notes:
Stina edit delete
Hi everyone, I hope you're all doing well. Tam Team Adventures is still on hiatus, but I wanted to check in for a moment of reflection.

I was recently informed that Strawberry, a longtime reader of this comic, has passed away. It was a shocking message, considering I had just communicated with her a couple of weeks ago, and for a brief moment I nearly convinced myself that it was either a prank or some cheeky way of rebranding her internet identity. When I was able to reason more clearly again (that type of a joke was not consistent with what I knew about her personality), I did a quick search and found the same announcement posted across all of her social media accounts, some of which already had messages of grief and condolences from others.

I don't know how Strawberry ever found me on WordPress. Back in 2014 I decided to challenge myself by drawing every Pokemon (I only finished 89 of them), and on the first post Strawberry had left a comment complimenting my art and then asked if I did requests. I thanked her for her words and politely informed her that I didn't do requests, thinking that would be the end of it. But it wasn't. I kept posting and she kept commenting, always with a kind thing to say. After a while, I felt it was only fair to look at what she was posting on her blog. At the time, she was writing a Pokemon fanfic; from the style, I could tell she was a young writer with much to learn, but there was something endearing and nostalgic about her enthusiasm for telling her story. I offered her a few words of encouragement and continued to read as she kept writing.

Though viewing her work began as a polite gesture, it soon developed into a genuine interest--I suppose she reminded me of myself when I was that age. I became invested in her growth as an artist and writer. I cheered for her every time she finished something, and felt proud when I saw her improvement. At times I even felt a bit envious because it was obvious that she was drawing and writing simply because she loved her stories and her characters, while I was only drawing for the sake of improvement and therefore was not enjoying the process as much. I wanted to encourage her positive approach to art as much as possible. I wanted her to keep improving. Once she asked me to critique a new story she had been working on--she had only written a short chapter, but I remember taking hours to consider it because I wanted to give a more thorough critique. I tried to craft my comments in a way that was helpful without hurting any feelings. I'm not sure how successful I was in that endeavor, but I never noticed any change in her attitude toward me, so I can only assume that I didn't offend her.

Eventually we developed a rapport, constantly commenting on each others' work. We had some shared interests, especially in video games and art and animation. When I started Tam Team Adventures, she was the first (other than my relatives) to follow. We did an art collaboration and an art trade (her part of that trade is the picture in the Fanart section). She commented so frequently on my work that I began to look forward to hearing from her every time I shared something new.

I've never ever seen anything negative from Strawberry. Everything she wrote had such an upbeat, bubbly tone. If she talked about something she didn't like (which was very, very rare), she'd only mention it and then move on to the next, more positive, topic. Even the content she reblogged on Tumblr was positive--from videos with cute animals to humorous fan comics to art she admired. I quickly found myself looking forward to her posts, as they were refreshing in an internet space saturated with aggression.

In the past year, my interactions with Strawberry became less frequent--for my part, real life responsibilities were taking priority over my artistic pursuits (and continue to do so). I assume the same happened for her, as her output of art and blog posts had noticeably slowed, but on the occassions when we exchanged messages about each others' art it was like there had never been any sort of delay in between.

I wonder if I can say that I really knew Strawberry, because there are so many things I don't know about her. I don't know what she was like offline with her friends and family. I don't know anything about her personal life. I don't know what made her upset or mad or sad because she never seemed to be any of those things. I don't even know what her real name was. According to some standards, she and I might be considered, at best, acquaintances with common interests. But no matter how trivial our relationship might be classified, her presence was meaningful and profound to me and will be sorely missed.

A few weeks ago she drew a picture from her Pokemon fanfic--the very one she was working on when I first met her. She had stopped working on it long ago, and I had nearly forgotten about it. I was so pleased to be reminded of it (it made me think about how much more I used to draw and how much Strawberry had improved since I met her) that I went back to re-read it and doodled a few characters from the story. When I shared the drawings with her I made a weak attempt to convey how grateful I was for her positivity.

She replied with her characteristic enthusiasm and graciousness, as I had eagerly anticipated. And in the tags of that last post she sent me, she wrote:

"Thank You For Always Being Such A Major Source of Creative Support For Me"

I wonder if she knew how much of a support she had been for me.