I’ve been dreading the day I would have to write this post. You never think that this time will come, that you’ll have days, months, years left to get it right and just be here. I honestly hoped and tried to avoid thinking that this would happen.
There are two types of people who play World of Warcraft. The ones who like to complain about the other players and the ones who make friends with them. I was lucky and made friends with a few special people. I’m not a hugely social gamer and find a lot of times that my comments get ignored or overlooked in guild chat. I’m not bitter though. It’s just a game, however there are a couple people that have become very close friends in and outside of the game.
Tracey aka Tyrannar was one of those people. Way back in 2006 I was a new level 60 mage who just joined a large raiding guild. I had no idea what I was doing, and I at that point I was still using the arrow keys to move my character around. Tracey had joined the same guild just before I did and had a little more experience with raiding. She took me under her wing and helped me learn more about the game. We became “game” friends and I enjoyed the time we spent together, but we never got too close or talked about anything serious in life. Shortly after the Burning Crusade came out I had to quit the game for several years. I would pop on every now and then and while most of the guild had forgotten me, Tracey hadn’t for some reason. When I was forced to quit the game for what I thought was good, she gave me a long farewell and told me that she would miss me.
Around 4 years later life changed and I was able to go back to the game fully. I quickly made a new account and contacted the people from my old guild. I didn’t see Tracey in game for several months, because she was burned out at this point and had taken a break. When she logged in for the first time I got nervous but sent her a message asking if she remembered a mage named “Winni” from several years ago. Surprisingly she did and we quickly reacquainted ourselves with each other. Over long talks about what happened with the guild and the state it was in and changes to the game, we had become friends.
She started to help me level up my new characters and we started to talk about more than just the game. We would have long conversations about men, and how her husband drove her nuts sometimes, and how mean one of her kids could be. She talked me through lots of painful times in my life, and was always a ray of sunshine when all I could see were clouds. One of the many things we bonded over was how clumsy we were in the game and in life. I still remember the time we were fighting near a cliff in the game and I used a spell that pulled me backwards away from the thing I was attacking. I wasn’t paying attention to what direction I was facing and flew off the cliff and died. We laughed about that for years.
In a very short amount of time, she became one of the only people I could trust and listened to. There was something about her that made you feel at ease in a world that tends to rush by. Tracey was a night owl (mostly because she couldn’t sleep) and there were many nights when she would sit with me in a major city in game and we would just talk. She would always tell me that I was too good for the guys I was dating (usually met them in game as well) and that I should wait for the right guy to come along. She never pointed out my flaws and always encouraged me. I can’t say that I treated her the same all of the time.
Before she was diagnosed with cancer, I started to notice changes in her behavior. She was starting to trip and fall more often in life, and she didn’t seem to heal very well. She was also often ill or sick. She was sleeping less than usual and she spent less time in the game. She disappeared for a couple weeks and in that time she was treated at the hospital for being sick when they took a scan of her brain. She had cancer. It took her a few days to tell me that she had a Glioblastoma and it was in a part of her brain where they couldn’t get all of it. I quickly looked it up online and say that there is little to no survival rate from this type of cancer. I was hopeful though, as I talked with the neurologist that worked at the clinic. After talking to him I learned that it wasn’t a matter of if she passed, but when. It took me weeks to recover from the deep sadness I felt.
At first I was upset that I was going to loose someone that means so much to me. I don’t have a lot of family or very close friends, and they keep passing away, or leave in one way or another. I was angry with the Lord on how could he do this to me. I couldn’t loose another person. I didn’t know how to handle that loss. Then I realized how crazy I was being. I wasn’t the one who was going to die. Tracey would surely loose her life to this, and what would happen to her family? She had three kids with the youngest being only 10 or 11 at the time. He’s far to young to loose her. After I got over the initial shock of this, I started to drill her for any and all details that she knew about her condition. I wanted to know what trials she was in, what the prognosis was for her surgery and how long her doctors thought she had.
The thing about Tracey is that she never, throughout her entire illness, complained or even brought up the fact that she was sick. She remained positive until the end. Even through all the hospital stays and when she couldn’t walk any longer, she never asked God, “Why me, what did I do to deserve this.” I can’t say that I was as positive as she was. The only time I ever heard her complain was when she was alone in the rehab place and she missed her family. She never used her cancer as an excuse or a reason to have special treatment. She was her usual self all the way until the end.
For a while after she found out what was going on, things stayed the same. We met and played in game and when one of us wasn’t we would text each other. We talked a lot about our cats and the books we wanted to write. Slowly I forgot that she was sick and our time was precious. I’d like to say that I was there as much as I could be, but sometimes there would be weeks or a month that would go by and I wouldn’t speak to her. This became more frequent when she stopped playing the game because it became too hard. She would get terrible headaches and not be able to focus on the game. She would lay down a lot and she crocheted or knitted in her free time.
I knew things were starting to get really bad when she disappeared again at the beginning of October 2015. She was in the hospital for a few weeks because her seizures were getting too bad, she couldn’t be home alone any longer. While she was there, she wasn’t allowed to get up and walk around so she lost at lot of muscle in her legs and was soon not able to walk on her own period. She was moved to several recovery centers and made a little progress. One place would work with her every day and she got to the point where she could stand and walk with a walker a few feet before having to sit back down. I was so happy for her, she was on the road to going back home. Then she was transferred to another place because of insurance reasons she said. This place would take her to the dinning room and just leave her for hours. One day she texted me that no one would help her back to her room. How could they expect her to get better when she wasn’t looked after?
When she was moved to the last rehab she made almost no progress. She was over an hour away from her friends and family and was alone most of the time. I would tell her to text me when she got lonely and I would talk with her, even if I was at work. Tracey would tell me ok, but then say that she didn’t want to be the reason that I lost my job. Even when she was at her lowest and stuck in bed, she still looked out for others.
The last time I spoke to Tracey was on Jan 3 of this year. I had told her that I had just seen that my ex had gotten married and I was feeling pretty low. She encouraged me, telling me that I deserve better and that I needed to ignore whatever he was doing. He missed out on a great girl. I asked how she was doing and she said that she missed her husband and kids. I told her that she needed to keep working on walking and she’d be home before she knew it. She told me that she was working as hard as she could but the seizures were setting her back. I told her that I believed in her. I signed off with our parting of HUGS, not knowing that I would speak to her again.
I texted her a few times over the last several weeks, but she never replied. I figured she wasn’t feeling good or had lots of family around keeping her busy. The thought ran through my head last week that maybe something happened to her. I sent her several more texts begging to just know that she was okay. I checked her Facebook to see it anything had been posted, but there was no word. Tracey lived in Minnesota and I live in Georgia, so I had no way of knowing for sure what was going on. I let a few days pass and then yesterday at work, our mutual WoW friend Mak, told me to check her Facebook because she passed away. Luckily I was in the bathroom at work so I was able to cry and then compose myself before going back to my desk.
Even though I knew for several months that this day would come, I had conned myself into believing that we had time. If I had known that Jan 3rd would be the last day I would speak to one of my very best friends, I would have told her how much I loved her and how much she means to me. Tracey not only gave me her friendship, but she gave me so much more. She made gaming enjoyable again and something I wanted to do. She helped me believe in myself during times when I felt like a worthless piece of crap that doesn’t deserve to be loved. Tracey kept my secrets and never asked for anything more than friendship in return. I will miss her every day until the day get to see her again.
People ask me all the time, why I play World of Warcraft. I complain about so many things in the game and always say that I’m going to give it up. But it’s the times when you meet people like Tracey who change the way you view the world and ultimately yourself that make all the headaches and douchbags worth it. Mak and I are alone in WoW now, but we’ll keep going and keep imaging her next to us helping take down the bosses.
Tracey, there is only one thing I can say to you and it sums up everything. HUGS.