This is a tribute to a good friend who I never met face to face. She would have been 45 on November 12 and we lost her suddenly five years ago today.
When I was first fumbling around on the internet, circa 1998-2001 I spent a lot of time on a group of forums mostly devoted to Tori Amos. In fact that’s where I made some of my best online friends, many of whom I’m still in touch with. Rachel was also on there, on the Tori forum as well as a related one where people shared their creative work and thoughts, and she also was instrumental in putting together and managing a Kate Bush-related forum. So there was this whole community of us sharing art and creative musings online, it was a lot of fun and we were all very supportive of one another, it was very much the forerunner of the current Facebook community. Rachel was a great organizer of activities through there, I remember a couple of times she put together a music exchange in which the people in the group would each make a CD or tape of their favorite music and we would snail mail them to one another in a chain, so that everyone would eventually hear all of the mixes, and we’d talk about them in the forum. She also put together a package of goodies from all of us to send to Kate Bush, I had a bunch of prints of my pictures and other people had other things. She was also the first person I knew who would mail out an annual holiday music mix with her Christmas cards every year. I still have those too!
She was a talented writer, poet and photographer, just an all around creative person and a great supporter of other artists. One of those individuals who really has a positive and memorable effect on the people around her. It was also nice that I got to talk to her on the phone at least once, my whole family did in fact.
At one point she asked if I would be interested in doing some paintings inspired by her poetry, here is one of that series of paintings, called Divinity Ascending.
Related to this, I also did a sort of triptych with two of these poetry-inspired images, Gravity and Peachblood, bookending a song by Kate Bush called Eat the Music.
There was a space of time in which we’d kind of lost touch, somewhere in between when I stopped frequenting the forums and when MySpace & Facebook came up. But when I did eventually get a MySpace account and then a Facebook one, she was in both cases the first or second person who friended and welcomed me in.
When she passed away in her sleep two days before her 40th birthday, obviously it was a shock and a surprise to all of us who knew her but her family was very supportive and in fact because she had so many online friends they actually did a web feed simulcast of her funeral, which was a first for me. It was a great means of closure though. Her Facebook page is still up too and people still post on it fairly often, which I think is a wonderful way of keeping her memory alive. It’s so her.
So here’s to the moments that we had with our Kunda Vega.
“Leading a quiet life with my feline companion Sitka is what I do best. I work modestly, but with passion at a local bookstore while trying to fight the despair of being a mediocre writer who dreams of being published one day. Alas, such a blessed life to make money while drinking well from creative rivers. I tend to get quite emotional at the strangest things like old men sitting on park benches and dead pigeons. Day and night continue to offer me inspiration. I appreciate the beauty of life including the pins and needles. Some of my main interests lie in an eclectic mix of books, writing, film, photography and music. I adore art and mythology, hanging out with good friends. I am a big fan of red wine. I love animals and children. I believe shared learning to be a beautiful thing.”