One of the most amazing things about getting so sick is who you are going to meet on any given day. The hardest part of meeting these amazing people is that you must live with the knowledge that you will never, ever actually physically meet them. It is a blessing and a curse.
I have cultivated some very special relationships with some amazing people that I have met online that have literally saved my life. But I have never and will never meet them. They live in homes all over the world. They are all so different to me except for one thing. One important life changing thing. We are all chronically ill; and that is all that is needed to bind our lives and hearts forever.
I have met this wonderful man that I absolutely adore. He doesn’t know how much I look forward to his messages and hearing from him each day that each morning I check my computer or smartphone to see if he has left a message. Under any other circumstances my husband would have every right to be worried that I enjoy speaking to this man so much, but my husband isn’t at all worried because he knows what this man means to me. He means “understanding”. And that is something that only someone who knows what you go through everyday can offer you.
We talk about all the things that we cant tell everyone else. We talk about the things that are hard to admit to even ourselves. We talk about the things that everyday people would find too difficult to think about, let alone talk about. There is no such thing as ‘Too Much Information’ or no where that is too hard to go…because we live in those hard places everyday. We speak the language of ‘hard’ fluently.
I love the fact that we are different in so many other ways… He lived a very different life than me. He was brave, courageous and put his life on the line everyday. He was like that BEFORE he got sick; but it hasn’t changed how we interact now. Who you were before you got sick is never who you are AFTER you get sick. You change…IT changes you. Illness is a great leveler.
We see life in so many different ways but his view on life is often what I need when I need it most. He makes me laugh when I feel dark, and he thinks I am too naive and idealistic. He is right. And I think that is why we have gotten on so well. Perhaps we balance each other when we need it the most. His brave, giving, modest, humble, cynical and sarcastic view is exactly what I need when I need it most.
I like to think my girly, naive, idealistic, emotional, artistic and openness is helping him get through a painful or challenging moment when he needs it too. I truly hope so.
Sometimes I wish I could reach out and hug my online friend or at least comfort him when he needs it the most but that is the bitter – sweet tragedy of finding these amazing online friendships because we have so much love and feeling for these ‘virtual’ strangers but we will never be more than words on a page or messages in an inbox; but we will become some of the most important people in this daily battle. More important than doctors, nurses, therapists or pharmacists.
I feel like he understands me better than some people who have known me all my life because our common pain/struggle has torn down the masks that we show the rest of the world and we don’t have to lie, pretend, down play, or be anything we don’t want to be. It’s what makes these bonds so strong and helps them develop so quickly.
When I don’t hear from him I worry about him. I worry about his pain and his suffering. Is he relapsing? Is his pain flaring? Has something happened? All of these worries flood my mind because I don’t like to think of him in any more pain than he has to bare. And then, as if he senses what I am going through, he sends me an update and I can breathe a little easier again knowing that he is still fighting in his little corner of the world. Knowing we both haven’t given up. He is the Butch to my Cassidy. I am the Goose to his Maverick. I hope this makes him laugh when he reads this, and I am almost certain he will roll his eyes and shake his head!
Perhaps he will never really know how much his friendship means to me. Perhaps my other online ‘family’ will never really know how much they have come to mean to me and how precious they are to my new life.
… but maybe, just maybe, they might.