Dear Mom –
Today I find myself thinking of your involvement in chatrooms in the late 90’s – especially the Adenocarcinoma rooms you frequented in the last few months of your life – pages and pages of communication I found printed out after you were gone. I saw it as information you were gathering from people who were in your position – information on your illness. Reading them was painful. I threw a bunch away at your brother’s prompting. Now I am hoping I held onto a few. Mmm. Actually – no – I don’t need to have them in hand to remember them. They were. You were. I realize now that you were not just gathering information. That was true community for you. I see that online community can be just that. TRUE community. And for some – that’s all the community they’ve got. It started out that way for me.
You’d be AMAZED with the direction things have gone with online community, Mom. Yep. That’s what we call it. Online. It’s no longer just “the web” – the web you were so intrigued by – the web that you pushed on me. Laughing. I remember the day my first computer showed up at the door. You having my brother hook it up – your forcing me to get an AOL account. All so foreign. All YOUR language. That thing was an unwelcome guest in my studio apartment. I know you’re having a good laugh over this. Yeah. You were a front runner. You owned one of the first Macs. Did you know there is one in the Smithsonian now? Yes – all of this online stuff would be SO up your alley. You would have been a blogger if you’d stuck around a little longer. No doubt in my mind. There is Facebook. Friend and foe – more friend these days – to me anyway – because I am finding my Tribe through it. Six years ago I hated the idea of it. You couldn’t even find me if you Googled me (Google – that’s right – you don’t know – it was registered as a domain 10 days after your death – just looked that up). Anyway – 6 years ago I was pretty darned hidden, and I liked it that way (or so I thought). Now I just don’t care. I AM HERE. I don’t know that you’d be all over Facebook, but you WOULD love checking in on your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews – pulling up pics at the touch of a screen. There is some good stuff going on out there in the cyber world (some not-so-good stuff, too) Thing is – being a part of an online community helped bring the strength that enabled me to reach out for community in non-virtual ways. My community is growing all around me – On-and-off-line.
Community saves me from myself.
I am not sure I’ve ever felt my connection and impact within various groups as strongly as I did yesterday. Yeah. It was a new experience. The realization began coming to me while sitting with a dear friend in a café here on the island. I began to realize we’d been building this connection for years. I was completely unaware that we would ever be this close for the first few years we knew one another. We were discussing children with learning differences and how we plan to make a difference for them. We were laying groundwork, and I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for how far I’ve come – how far we have each come – in our journey – and this particular path we both find ourselves on. Over the course of the last few months, we have realized we have far more in common than we ever knew. She’s amazing and I’m amazing and we are AMAZING together. HUGE HEART EMOTICON. After 2 ½ hours of coffee and chatting and strategizing and belly/snort laughing – my husband called with a “gentle” nudge to get my arse home. As the two of us were running out – we saw another woman – who we both know – who is part of another amazing community that I am just getting involved with. That community supports kids in staying clean and (I am hoping) will support kids who find themselves in muddy water. I found myself immediately drawn to them once I figured out what & who they are. I’m jumping in with both feet there. As I looked at her yesterday – and waved and said, “I have GOT to go NOW. No chat. NO chat!” – I laughed. We had just had a short deluge and there were puddles all around. The sun was coming out and we were all smiling, and I could not help but think, “Holy shit. I’m finding my people.” True connection. True community. True tribe. And my heart (((SWELLED))) again.
I went running off to grab my car and get to the grocery. Once there, I zipped around – grabbing the dish soap and produce and grillables – running into some people and stopping long enough to smile big – say “HI – I’m rushing,” and hug them tight. I realized I have had this experience numerous times over the past week. I know and care for people right here, right now. Again – heart (((((SWELLING))))). Feeling LOVE. Giving LOVE. Yes. That’s where it’s at.
I reach checkout. The line is long. The baskets are all full. Crap. Call the hubs. “I’m in line. It’s long. Turn the oven on to 425. I’ll be there soon.” I check my email. WHAT? All kinds of notifications were coming in. People were reaching out to me over the letter I wrote to you yesterday, Mom. Dawn at She Recovers shared it – and people read it – and it touched them. A bit of my story – our story – touched them. I read Dawn’s comment, and another woman’s who said it brought healing tears – and that was it. My heart popped WIDE OPEN. Wide open. Tears welled up. I got my stuff to the car and sat there and cried.
The words came in repeated waves in my head and heart. I AM NOT ALONE.
The connection, community and common thread of recovery (in all its different forms) is SO strong. The pain, authenticity and vulnerability that is there for each of us is what binds us together. Each of our stories strengthens the bond.
This encourages me to keep sharing. My sharing encourages others to share. That became so crystal clear yesterday.
So – here I go.
I miss you, but yesterday helped that lump of pain shrink.
I still love you with all of my heart.
Please meet me in my dreams.