I have of course never forgotten Rachel, and from time to time wondered what became of her. She had an unusual surname. One day last year I suddenly thought of her again and Googled it. There was a single chance reference, on a page about an elderly and very distinguished academic who had been pictured at the wedding reception of Rachel X and [insert name of groom]. I then Googled her full married name. Sure enough, there she was, on a professional site, in one of those 10K profile jpegs. She now has an impressive suite of qualifications and is an eminent medical researcher. Her husband is even more qualified and eminent. I found a picture of him too, and he looks like, and by all accounts is, a very nice fellow. From a few words on her profile, I gleaned the impression that she is happily married with a family and lives comfortably in the country.
At this I felt a surge of unalloyed affection and pleasure. I saw that he has given her exactly the sort of life she needed and would not have found with me. My bitterness, which long ago had shrunk to almost nothing, now disappeared entirely as I realized that I had, despite everything, loved her as she deserved. She had made the right decision.
My investigation was the converse of cyber-stalking. Without the internet, I almost certainly would never have known what became of her. Now I do. I have no wish to make contact; there is no point; I have moved on, and when a certain lady presently in Arizona comes to read this, I know she will understand. I shall not intrude again. Something has been resolved, released. I have learned a little more about myself and about Rachel and the way we parted.
For all its dangers, the Web is a force for good. It connects people in more ways than can be imagined. The intensely personal paragraphs you have just read are published anonymously: I can write without inhibition.
I shall, of course, not elaborate on any of mine for your humble Devil's anonymity is tissue-thin these days; but suffice to say that I have since had contact (at her instigation) with at least one of those people whose situation is now similar to Rachel's and she is just as happy as she seemed—and I feel the same gladness for her as Dennis does for Rachel.
Do go and read the whole thing, for it is the sort of elegant and heart-felt writing that one would never find were it not for this blogging lark—and it is the joyous flipside of all of the ugly and angered ranting.