I've just spent some time searching for a pen pal I started writing to when I was 11. We wrote to each other reasonably regularly for 20 years, and then, well, then life with small children took over both our lives.
I've searched for Ellen on the net before and always been a bit surprised that I came up with a blank. In my thinking it's the pen pal types of old who embrace social networking sites, so I searched a little more thoroughly today. I've found the man who must be her husband, I've found the three people who must be her children. I can see photos of them. I'm sure it's them. They're on each others friend lists, they live in the right suburb of the right American state. I've even found Ellen's sister with maiden and married last names attached. These are the right people, but my heart is heavy as I see me friend Ellen is not on any of their friend lists. Her youngest son Kevin, 2 years older than my Zinni, has a look of sadness and desolation.
I would dearly like to contact her husband, but I fear that would be rude and out of place. I have not written to Ellen for 14 years - though perhaps I have sent 1 or 2 Christmas cards in that time - so to contact her husband now, when the evidence points to her death, seems to be in poor taste.
I wonder how I'd feel about one of Michael's old friends contacting me. It's happened. I didn't mind. I like to know that others still think of him and have fond memories of him.
If Ellen has died, I would like to express my sadness to her husband, but... Oh, maybe I don't want to have my sad fears confirmed.