As anyone that knows me has already heard, the world lost a spectacular woman recently. Natalie Morris left this world at the young age of forty-five. She left behind an exuberant and gorgeous five year old daughter that goes by the nickname Sonic Boom. She will be raised by her loving and attentive father, author and podcaster Tee Morris.
I won’t claim to have known Nat intimately, but I won’t hesitate to call us good friends. Knowing Tee through the podcasting community for the last few years, I was introduced to Nat and we later got to know each other at parties and even were making plans to see each other the very weekend that Chooch and I attending her viewing. I cannot tell you how sad this lost opportunity makes me, and that instead of laughing and talking with her I was grieving the loss of her life and praying for her daughter to remember her throughout her life. I take comfort in my belief that Nat no longer has to hear me tell her something to know it. I believe she now knows what is in my heart without me even having to say it.
The loss of a friend is never an easy. But someone that has their own problems but still takes time to show concern and care for others, reaching out to offer comfort to another that has some difficulty… let’s just say that Nat was a rare gem. She was human, with all the exquisite flaws and frailties that this condition mandates. In spite of this, I always felt that Nat was doing her very best to raise her daughter by beautiful example of being a loving and caring person. Coming through drastic changes in recent months, her last conversations with me showed joy and happiness at things she was doing over the holidays, particularly those involving her beloved daughter. No one has ever loved a child more than Nat loves Serena.
Having lost my own mother to breast cancer four years ago at the age of thirty-six, I frequently feel adrift without her. Hell, last week I even referred to her in the present tense, so surreal is it that she’s gone. I don’t know what kind of woman I would’ve turned into without her strong and fiercely loving hand to guide me through life, but I am eternally grateful for the time I had with her. While Sonic Boom is devastatingly young to have lost her mother, I know that Nat has provided her a foundation of maternal love, positivity and acceptance that she will carry with her, even if she doesn’t know quite why.
On February 27th I was able to participate in a very small way in a community coming together to raise money for a trust fund for Sonic Boom. It was a staggering success, largely due to the tremendous efforts of author Philippa Ballantine and Podcasting’s Rich Sigfrit. Pip has worked tirelessly since Nat’s passing, in organizing a chip-in fund that raised over $20,000 and in planning and orchestrating the webathon that would be known as The Boom Effect. Over a hundred donors provided goods or services to be auctioned off, and Pip coordinated this event from beginning to end.
Rich Sigfrit used his big brain to piece together multiple platforms to create a live video feed of the auction, along with a bidding system, and conferencing software to bring distant participants into the live recording. Having witnessed the complex process at work, it is easy to see how much work Rich put into the development, testing and implementation of these elements to make the best possible webathon for Sonic Boom. I believe the hiccups that were experienced were from the huge number of people attending virtually and shortcomings from the service providers themselves. Rich’s innovation was able to overcome the obstacles and the ten hour webathon was a smashing success.
This success was also due to the help of many others, including Susan Z. who worked tirelessly behind the scenes wrangling the bids and tracking the winners. She took a difficult job and performed it beautifully and with great grace. Billy Flynn and his lovely wife Terri, of Geek Radio Daily, graciously opened their homes to host the webathon, and Billy co-hosted for the majority of the day alongside the tireless Rich Sigfrit. To provide brief respites for the hosts, various others jumped on the microphone and skype to help raise the bids on various items. These folks include my husband Chooch, along with Jett Micheyl, The Bruce, Philippa Ballantine, J.C. Hutchins, Sonic Boom’s father Tee Morris, and many others including Christiana Ellis who raised an additional amount for those that wanted to hear more of her upcoming sequel to Nina Kimberly the Merciless after having a taste of it in an earlier reading.
Am I forgetting people? Yes, and I’m very sorry. This was a day full of amazing generosity and kindness, and my head was spinning from it all. Add to that the darling Sonic Boom’s sparkling presence on and off the microphone and I will happily admit to having lost details of the day. To all those that donated, I am in awe of you. Our small donation to the auction was nothing compared to the time and efforts given by others. To the bidders, you truly rock in a fantastic fashion. At the end of the webathon, over $8,300 was bid and it all goes into a trust fund for Sonic Boom’s future with the remaining funds from the chip-in fund.
The fund now stands at just over $30,000 raised between donations and the webathon. I’m not exaggerating when I say that we were all stunned when Susan Z. brought in the final tally. I remain gobsmacked at the communal generosity and what it has done for this sweet child.
This is the first time I’ve written about Nat publicly since her passing, although I’ve re-written this blog a dozen times since her passing. I never posted it before because I wanted to ensure that the focus remained with Sonic Boom and the fundraising efforts. I didn’t want to shift focus to my grief and I still don’t want that. In fact, the outpouring of loving messages and unbelievable donations directed to Nat’s daughter gives me a new hope. I believe that while she tragically won’t have the tangible love of her mother to guide her throughout her life, she will never lack for adoration and loving support. To be clear, I have never doubted that Tee is a loving and strong parent and role model. Sonic Boom is in very capable and nurturing hands. My remaining hope is that Nat knows that she is loved and will never be forgotten.
Photos from The Boom Effect are included below.