And then, suddenly everything gets put into perspective. Ribbitribbitt, the young EQII fan who had been battling cancer, passed away at the age of six. A couple of months ago, the EQII community got a request for assistance in building an in-game playground from his mother, and what followed was an unprecedented show of support. His mother, Myrose, passed along the sad news to the community this past week with a brief forum post, and the community mourned his loss.
In this week's Tattered Notebook, we'll explore how Ribbitribbitt brought a community together, and look at the grieving process from losing an in-game friend.
Many EQII players first heard of Ribbitribbitt back in March, when his mother made a modest request for help in building a playground for her son. At the time, she explained that he was battling cancer and she had just been told that he had only 6-12 weeks to live. That week, players from the Guk server rallied together, along with players from several other servers who paid for a transfer to bring over house items and help with the decorating. They went above and beyond the call for help, even taking the incredible leap of grinding levels and status to purchase a tier three guild hall. In addition, they purchased several prestige homes, and decorated each one with all sorts of fun things for Ribbitribbitt to see and do. There was a treehouse, several playgrounds, a Christmas-themed home, and even a roller coaster that has to be seen to be believed.
That weekend, the players and EQII staff organized an in-game party for Ribbitribbitt with so many in attendance that it was feared they'd crash the guild hall zone. Ribbitribbitt's family recorded his reaction and shared it with the community, and his smiles and laughter were priceless.
Shortly afterwards, there was a glimmer of hope, as Myrose shared news that Ribbitribbitt had qualified for a clinical trial and was set to begin very soon. She continued to post updates and said that Ribbit was having a lot of fun navigating through the various homes, and she even had plans to work on a water park for him. But sadly, she soon shared the news of his passing with this forum post:
It is with a very heavy heart that I let you all know that Ribbitribbitt passed away at 10:30 pm EST at the age of 6. He went peacefully in his sleep.There were probably hundreds who participated in the construction and event back in March, and there were many who expressed their condolences on the forum. But there was a small handful who had gone through this challenging journey with Ribbitribbitt and his family from the beginning. In her thank you post after the event, Myrose shared the following:
Thank you all for giving him the joy you did in his last months and giving him rainbows to run down, trees to climb, pirate ships and so many precious and wonderful gifts that led to so many precious and wonderful memories.
Love to all
What many of you don't realize is just how long some of you have actually been on this journey with us starting with my son's premature birth. He was born at 24.5 weeks gestation and weighed only 1 lb 5 oz. He stayed 5 months in the NICU but the friends I made in the community were always willing to lend an ear and a virtual shoulder. Some came to visit once we were able to bring him home. During a semi-calm "normal" period, many of the friends I made here helped me with basic parenting tips to get me through teething and burping and then, when he got diagnosed with cancer at the age of three, again, the friends made here would listen, cry with me and sent him books and toys to help get through the many hospital stays that would follow.Ribbitribbitt touched a lot of people back in March, but for some, there is a deep connection to him and his family that goes beyond guild halls and the game. For them, the loss of Ribbitribbitt is just as real as losing a loved one in real life. There's the same process of contacting friends, family, and in this case, even guildmates, to pass along the news, and then the question of how to express condolences and pay tribute properly. There's grief and sadness, and it's real, because the friendships and connections made are as real as out-of-game relationships. We mourn online friends the same way we mourn friends in real life, and it's just as valid.
For a brief period, when he seemed to be "cured", our friends here organized a Vegas trip for us knowing that we hadn't taken any vacations since he was born. When the cancer came back, our friends here, continued to help organize trips to Fan Faire so that at least once a year we could have some time to recharge and help rejuvenate us for the ongoing fight with cancer. All of these things played a large part in keeping us strong and therefore better able for us to be there mentally and emotionally for him.
Condolences to the family of Ribbitribbitt, and thank you for letting the EverQuest II community share in his life.
From the snow-capped mountains of New Halas to the mysterious waters of the Vasty Deep, Karen Bryan explores the lands of Norrath to share her tales of adventure. Armed with just a scimitar, a quill, and a dented iron stein, she reports on all the latest news from EverQuest II in her weekly column, The Tattered Notebook. You can send feedback or elven spirits to firstname.lastname@example.org.