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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Memorial Service For Riven Homewood


By Bixyl Shuftan

On Saturday April 8, dozens of avatars gathered to remember the life of Riven Homewood. Noted for her work on libraries, particularly those in the steamlands, and in the Relay, she died suddenly on Monday April 3, 2017. As 10:30 AM approached, dozens of avatars gathered at Calimari Island Park at Caledon South End, which had been owned by Riven, to honor her and share stories in remembrance.. The area was a island park with a number of seats. Gabrielle Riel announced that they were unable to play music on the parcel, so she was playing some on her own stream which could be accessed on the Internet via a music playing program. Among those there were Honour McMillan, Crap Mariner, Baron Wulfenbach, and many others.

"It does not seem real that she is gone," Nyree Rain commented. JJ Drinkwater, who helped organize the vent, spoke of one song, "I have no idea why this song makes me cry for Riven, but it does." He then continued, "There are a hundred things I want to say about Riven, that I’ve thought of this week. But I’m going to save most of them for the celebration or her life later this month. Because if anyone's worth celebrating, Riven is. I don’t even know how to say what Riven was to me. A good friend, a valuable, thoughtful, provoking colleague - provoking in the very best way. She was also an inspiration - the kind of student who teaches the teacher. Because she was a lifelong learner, a lifelong explorer. One thing I loved about Riven is that she'd always tell you what she appreciated about you. It’s not that she never found fault - she could grouse with the best of them.  We had some great 'Yeah, and another thing...' sessions. But she always returned to enthusiasm, to appreciation, to excitement. She saw people kindly. Something that, given how fragile life is, we could all stand to do more of. I've been thinking about that a lot this week. This is what she had as a tagline on one of her accounts: 'Life is short - Be swift to love, make haste to be kind.' I’ve put it on her Pick in my profile, the remind me to be as little more like her."

JJ then excused himself, "I think that's all." Several people gave praise for his words. Kghia Gherardi then spoke, "And next, Miso. Miso Susanowa is representing not only herself but many of Riven's friends on Twitter who could not make it." Miso then spoke, "Hi folks. As mentioned, I knew Riven best through Twitter. She had many friends and conversation partners there. I have chatted for YEARS with her there. As (lapsed) Catholics, we had many long-ranging discussions about faith, spirituality and the Church. I counted on her tweets for interesting, critical or otherwise valuable information. Riven NEVER tweeted a link that was boring! She was also a good ReTweeter,  fascinating, personal and care-full presence. She leaves a big hole in all our lives. She leaves a big hole in many lives."

After Miso concluded her speech, which was followed by some applause, Kghia told the group, "Valibrarian Gregg is able to join us today via his phone, which is limiting his experience a bit. He has asked me to paste his thought into chat on his behalf." She then corrected herself, "I mean, She. *sigh* I was doing so well. ... OK, Val shares the following....virtual path shared / memories more real than dreams / cherished friend, Riven. Valibrarian would also like to say that Riven was a foreword thinking librarian and big supporter of the ALA ACRL virtual world interest group - will be greatly missed. 'ty for sharing Kghia - I am blind on my phone!  but couldn't miss this.' "

Following more applause, next was Madga Kamenev, "It's funny, that after knowing Riven in the largely text-based environments of SL and Twitter - the thing I will remember most about Riven is her voice. She was one of the first avatars I heard on voice - and I think her voice epitomized her. She had such a warm, earthy, infectious laugh. She was welcoming to all, kind and generous and patient, but she had a fierce streak, as well as a taste for mischief and adventure. She was endlessly curious, always inventive, ALWAYS building bridges. She could have made her home anywhere. I'm so glad she made her home here in SL, and in the Steamlands. She made our world, our multiple words, virtual and physical, better places for having her in them. Thank you, Riven. Thank you, Jean. Rest in peace."

Kghia passed on a message from noted blogger Inara Pey, "Please pass on condolences to Riven's family. This is sad news and a loss to so many." She passed on another from anothe rnoted blogger, Daniel Voyager, "Very sad news and huge loss for Second Life." From Lludmarfie, "Riven was one of my earliest friends."

Kghia told everyone, "Will leave early to make room for others. 'Be well, all.' " Linn Darkwatch, stated, "I will go to make room also. I cannot say I knew Riven well; she was just one of those people I saw at events sometimes, always one of the ones that people are happy to see there." Miso was the third to speak along those lines, "Ah, I think I also will leave so as to let others in.Thank you all for your memories of Riven." Otenth HÃ¥kon Paderborn (Otenth Paderborn) reminded the group, "The sim is set to 100 maximum avatars, so no one needs to feel that they should leave to make room for other in the sim."

Beth Ghostraven gave her words, "The last time I talked with Riven, I mentioned how I wished I had a horse I could ride--and she gave me one! A wonderfully generous spirit, she was a librarian to the core, as well as a good friend. I'm going to miss her. ... I am curious about what she used this setting for--it's so perfect for this occasion!" JJ told her, "The parcel description is 'Dedicated to the people and places we miss.' "

RockAndRoll Michigan was next, "First off, I think my first thought I want to share about Riven will sound particularly unflattering at first, but I would like to ask that you bear with me and I think it'll make sense, is that fair? When I think of Riven, the first thing that comes to mind for me is old shoe leather. Unflattering comparison, right? But I don't intend it that way. When I think of old shoe leather, I think comfortable. You slip on that pair of shoes and it's already broken in, soft and pliable, and it just feels good to wear that kind of old shoes, you know?" A few of the people nodded in agreement, "Yes, you did just slip into an easy conversation with her."

Rock continued, "Sometimes I'm afraid I've taken Riven's presence too much for granted for that reason, too, but I've always felt deep respect for her outlook on life and how she treats other people. She was a real gem and I feel blessed to be somebody who can say that I was able to call her 'friend' here in Second Life. Riven and I have really been out of touch for a long while, as I've been out of touch with a lot of you. And when I heard the news, it left a real void that really took me by surprise. I didn't expect it to hit me that hard. I've had a lot to process over the last two weeks, really the last year for that matter. And losing Riven on top of everything else was shocking. One thing it's prompted me to do is to start writing about my experiences in the last almost 11 years here in Second Life, and how the things I've done, people I've met, and general all-around life here has impacted who I am in the real world. Riven just seems to have that kind of effect on people.

"Going to miss you, Riven, my friend. Thank you for being old shoe leather!"

After some applause, Princess Selena (SelenaAnansi Resident) spoke next, "I didn't know Riven very well personally, but she was someone I saw through out the steamlands as a force of good will, intelligence, and generosity.  And while I did not know her very well personally, she was held in the highest of regard by the people who I hold in the highest of regard, so by extension she was always someone I admired. I am feeling the loss of her shining warmth through my friends and I regret not getting the chance to get to know her better. Thank you for letting me be here and share in this beautiful memorial for a lost friend." She ended with a curtsy.

OldeSoul Eldemar (OldeSoul Resident) followed, "I have had many of my very special moments in SL spent with Ms. Homewood.   As others have said, she always kindly retweeted my tweets. Our friendship actually was sharing our ABC horses.  We both had sale barns at Brune's. She and I bought each other's horses. She was very involved in showing horses and at times, she would want to ride one of my horses in a show.  She was much cuter than me. Ms. Beth," she glanced to Beth, "there is a lot to the horse story.  So I would hand her a horse to ride - her horse of choice. She would show the horse and of course, win! Then we would meet in IM or later. She would return the horse and we would divide the winnings - we would laugh uproarious and wink. I know some of the horse folks here know what I speak of. We tossed our winnings in an RFL kiosk.  She was with Steelhead Salmons and with Team ACTS. So she would contribute to Steelhead Salmons and I would contribute to Team ACTS. Our relaying spirits were very kindred - we relayed for those we had lost and we did it our way!

"On a more personal note, I have located all of her horses - in four different places. Her family is definitely in the hearts and minds of the ABC Community. She was very well known and loved by all. I contacted all the VSRs and folks who have her horses. Once I find out what the family desires to do - I will let you know. They  are very busy at the moment and her horses are all taken care of. Thank you for these moments to share." As Olde was on one side of the island, and out of chat range of part of the group, Kghia repeated his speech for them.

Cale (Caledonia Skytower) was next, she making sure everyone around heard, "I am not a paragraph post-er, so please be patient with me.  And pardon the shout posting so that all can read (hopefully). It is incredible for me, to think that Riven has joined the phenomena of ultimate virtuality ... a singular place where mass may be insubstantial, but the sense of loss and grief we share is not.

She joins Circe, Eppie, Stosh, Clark, Serene, and others. I see their names, there as I scroll,  (so much more than just names on a list) and I know that their names will never show in bold again. But their memories will: pungent, poignant, and treasured. Some people are in your life for a long walk, some just for a moment. All of them shape our journey. Never to be forgotten. Never to be deleted. Thank you, Riven, for all and all, and thank you, all."

Podruly Peccable was the next to speak, "I didn't know Riven that well, but we shared some sessions for a number of months outside of Second Life, in Lord of the Rings Online. We would talk on Skype as we negotiated that online world. Of course, she was a mage with spirit animals... she had a high regard for animals. She had such a sharp mind, a great sense of humour, and, as JJ says, a great kindness and ease. And all I can say is that she was a great companiion on an adventure, and I'll miss that. " Princess Selena nodded,  "Oh yes, I played LoTRs with her too, I had forgotten that!  She did have a great sense of humor and I was impressed how fast she caught on to the gaming." Podruly added, "She love to see what was next, over the horizon." Rock commented, "I'm sure she faced this new horizon to cross with the same sense of adventure that she faced the rest of her life."

Bain Finch stated, "My path with Riven never crossed into friendship, but we did crossed paths at many events around these lands of ours, over the years, and from the very start, I could see, Riven was one of these beautiful peoples, I like to call nexus peoples. Nexus people are like a magical key part to any community, that radiated love, life, friends, and making the best of times, happen."

Samantha Poindexter would be the last to give a statement, "I met Riven through Caledon events, and she became a parishioner at my ha-ha-only-serious First Church of Rosedale. She once suggested that we set up a library, for outreach and general edification, and I wish I'd had the time and energy to take her up on that. I'll miss her. Those wanting another look at her animating spirit might like to know that video footage from SLCC 2011 is still online." She then put up two links to videos:  http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/16618420 (What Being in SL Has Taught Me About My RL Profession) and http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/16645678 (Victoriana and Steampunk in Communties in SL).

"Before we all depart, I would like to recommend a book I read recently. (Librarian here) I think it is the best thing I've ever read about having a virtual life - and it never mentions Second Life or virtual worlds. It's 'My Real Children' by Jo Walton.  feel like I should end with some sort of parodic scripture, 'Data thou art, and to the asset server thou shalt return,' but I don't really have the heart. Thank you all."

Kghia Gherardi told everyone, "Thank you all for coming and sharing your stories and your energy." RockandRoll added, " Amen, and I think all of us have some portion of Riven's spirit that we will always have with us, whatever she meant to us, there will always be something that she has given to each of us that we will always have as our own personal part of what we can take away from our time with Riven." JJ Drinkwater reminded everyone, "There will be another memorial - a celebration of Rivens life, on April 23rd, at Noon SLT. This happened so fast we know a lot of her friends couldn't come, so I hope the 23rd’s long enough ahead for people to plan for. JJ Drinkwater: There will be another memorial - a celebration of Rivens life, on April 23rd, at noon SLT. For that, I’ll be sending out the usual request for pictures of Riven, books she’s made etc." Someone asked, "Someone make sure her name gets on the Pyramid at the Linden Remembrance sim."

People would continue to hang around and chat for a while longer after the event had pretty much ended, talking about how much they would miss their friend and inspiration.

Bixyl Shuftan

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