Monthly Archives: October 2011

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Where Old Friendships Go To Die

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When we first moved to FL, we picked the area we did because we were familiar with it (well that and the fact that this county has a great school system).  We were familiar with it because I had a friend who had lived in this area since high school.  I won’t get into the boring details of our friendship other than to say we met in 7th grade back in CT…right before she moved to Cape Cod and then a year or so later, she moved here to FL.  We kept in touch as pen pals and visited each other when we could over the years.  I flew down when she got married and she was a bridesmaid in our wedding.  It was at around that time that I noticed she had changed a bit.  Or maybe, we had both changed.
Over the next few years we continued to keep in touch although we did have period of not speaking.  She was very helpful as we prepared to move here.  She was also the one who took me to the hospital when I lost our last angel baby and stayed with me until all the intake stuff was over.  But it became clear that we had different personalities, ways of parenting…the list could go on and on.  I had thought we’d see each other often once we moved here but that wasn’t the case.  I don’t think it was anyone’s fault.  We both had lives and once we moved into the house we live in now, we got to know our neighbors and we made other friends along the way who were more like us.  And of course she had friends as well.  Our kids were slightly different ages too so that probably played into it as well.

As of right now, I would say it has been close to a year since I have seen her.  She emails occasionally and I reply but I would say that happens once every couple of months.  My mom doesn’t seem to understand it.  I think she thinks that because I have known her so long, that we should just continue to TRY to keep the friendship going.  But is it worth it when you have become such different people?  How much effort should we be required to put into keeping a friendship going?

I had wondered how to handle the whole thing.  Do I just distance myself?  Not reply to emails or calls?  Actually talk to her about the situation?  In the end, it seems this friendship is dying a natural death and none of those things are necessary.  I have no hard feelings toward her…she is a wonderful person.  It’s not like there was a fight that led to this.  We became different people who no longer mesh.

Am I the only one who finds this happening as we get older?  Facebook has led to many people reconnecting after years of little or no contact but I wonder if issues like this are coming to light more often because of this.   That wasn’t the case here but I am curious to know if Facebook has resulted in others having this issue.  It’s always sad when a friendship ends and it may be even more sad when there isn’t one particular incident that leads to it…no fight or harsh words that make it easy to walk away.  But regardless of how it ends, it’s like a chapter of your life has closed and all you have are the memories and hopefully, there are more good memories than bad.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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As many of you know, October is breast cancer awareness month.  I have 2 aunts who are survivors and I know many more.  But this summer, the disease hit close to home for my 7 year old daughter.  As I mentioned at the end of this post, L’s teacher from last year was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.  It had spread to her bones and her liver.  She tested positive for the breast cancer gene so her two daughters will have to be careful as they get older.  She is in treatment and it appears to be working.  She is awaiting results of her latest scan and we all have our fingers crossed.  The next step will be surgery.

When L found out, of course her first question was if Mrs. U would be OK.  I told her that we hoped she would be but it would be a while before we knew if the medicine was working.  She immediately wanted to do something…draw her pictures, anything to make her beloved teacher feel better.  When Mrs. U posted on Facebook that she was participating in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in Orlando, I told L that would be a great way to help and show our support.  At first, I signed just L and me up.  I sent emails to family and friends asking for donations.  After a while, B expressed interest in doing the walk as well so I added him to the team.  Now our whole family will be participating in the walk on October 29.

It has also amazed me how the school community has stepped up.  Every October, they sell pink ribbons and bracelets.  This year, they are doing the same but with one difference…all the proceeds of the sale will go to a fund For Mrs. U and her family.  I think I may have cried when I saw that news because I know this hasn’t been easy on them.  She has not been able to work at all so far this school year and she did not have any type of disability insurance.  I am so proud of the members of the school staff who are doing their best to help out their fellow teacher.  Our entire family bought bracelets and Linnaea was going back today to buy a ribbon.

I wish we could do more.  I hate that anyone has to be touched by this disease and I hate that my daughter has to see it hit so close to home.  I can’t say it enough…Cancer is Bullshit.  We need to find a cure.

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PROUD To Be With The Band

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Yesterday I blogged about my circle of online mom friends.  Today I would like to expand on my circle of online friends to include another group of women who have become a part of my everyday life.

Late last year I came across a blog called Mommy Wants Vodka.  I believe I found my way there from another blog but who knows.  Anyway, it’s the blog of a woman who calls herself Aunt Becky.  Becky has a penchant for four letter words and using phrases like “Amazeballs, ”  “Awesomesauce, ” and “Kick it in the taco!”  I was instantly smitten.  I stalked her blog daily for about a week and eventually made my way over to her blogroll.  Over there I found a few more great blogs including another one run by Becky called Band Back Together.  I think I was totally absorbed in BB2G for a good two or three days straight reading almost all the posts.

Becky started BB2G because she herself has faced some tough times.  Her oldest son was born autistic and her daughter was born with encephalopathy which required surgery within days of her birth.  Amelia is now a healthy, normal little girl but the experience left Becky with PTSD.  As one of the faces of mental illness, Becky felt the need to help others with her own brand of support and humor.  And so, BB2G was born in September 2010.
BB2G is more than a blog or web site…it’s a resource.  It’s a place where people who have suffered loss, illness, and other issues can come and share their stories without judgement.  The site includes a page of resources for everything and anything.  If you need info on suicide, miscarriage, etc., it’s right there at your fingertips.  And then there is The Band…it is a resource itself.  When you post on BB2G, you get love and support NO MATTER WHAT.  And you will often get more support than you know what to do with!

A few months ago, I became a Brain Behind The Band.  I help out behind the scenes with promotion, support, commenting and spreading news about BB2G on social media.  Through BB2G, my circle of online friends has grown.  I have never met a group of people more supportive of people they don’t know.  We have had people post when they are on the brink of suicide and we have helped pull them back from the edge.  We had had people with Postpartum Depression say on other support sites that BB2G is one of the only sites where they have found support….that they have felt ignored elsewhere.  To me, that is a HUGE testament to what BB2G does.  BB2G is trying to erase the stigma of things like mental illness and infertility…to encourage people to talk about these things and seek help.  And now, we are in the process of trying to make BB2G a nonprofit organization…one of the most kickass of ALL non profits, if you ask me!

Man, as I read over this, I don’t feel like I am doing The Band justice.  I’m not sure I can put into words what they do for people.  So I encourage you to visit us there.  Share your stories, support others and support the site that so many people turn to when they feel they have nowhere else to go.  I feel like the only way for you to see what we are is to go and see for yourself.  And I hope when you do, you will see why I am PROUD to be with The Band.

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I Have Friends In Virtual Places

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I have a  group of friends that I share almost everything with.  They have seen me through good times and bad.  I have shared some of my most intimate secrets with them.  I’m sure most of you are thinking that seems pretty normal…that’s what friends do.  But the difference here is that I have never met most of then face to face.  Heck, I’ve never even SPOKEN to most of them but I still consider them some of my closest friends.

I guess I should give some background.  The Internet became a real big thing when I was in college.  During college and even after, I signed on to a few dating sites.  I met some great guys and some, umm, not so great guys.  One of those guys would become my husband.  After that, it didn’t take me long to find sites like iVillage where there were message boards for anything and everything.  I met several women through a message board for women in their 20s.  I am still friends with a couple of them today.  I met 3 other women through a weight loss board there.  Two of them are still my friends today.  In both cases, it’s been more than 10 years.

When B and I decided we wanted to start trying to have a baby almost 9 years ago, I found another message board, not on iVillage, for women who were trying to conceive their first child.  It also had a partner board for first time moms.  Those women soon became an everyday part of my life.  We saw each other through births, miscarriages, Divorces, the deaths of a couple of husbands and even through the heart transplant of the one of the babies.  We have never thought twice about calling each other “friend.”  The boards have grown, evolved and changed and are now for anyone trying to have to adopt a baby and for any mother.  And with the invention of Facebook, etc. we don’t always visit it as much but we are still part of each others lives.

As with most groups, we developed closer bonds with some rather than others.  I have a circle that I consider closer than the rest.  Some of them I have met face to face some of them I have spoken with on the phone or texted with.  ALL of them are good friends.  One of those friends, T, should have had her picture next to the definition of good friend.  Even though she struggled with her own issues, both physical and mental, she was always putting others first.  She was quick to send a card or a small gift to you, just because.  When I lost my last baby, even though she was going through a VERY tough time herself, she sent my family and me flowers even though we had never met face to face.  That was the kind of person T was.  She didn’t come around the board much anymore but we still kept in touch quite often.

A few weeks ago, the unthinkable happened.  T passed away very suddenly.  She was only 33 and left two children…a 5 year old girl and a 3 year old boy.  When a friend called me to tell me it had been posted on Facebook, we were both in denial…hoping it was a cruel joke.  But unfortunately, it wasn’t.  I went to the board to share the news and immediately, the outpouring of grief was immediate.  People who had strayed away came to pay their respects and share their memories.  People started brainstorming about something to do for her children and about places to donate in her memory.  I thought to myself “This is the definition of true friendship.  THIS is why after almost 9 years, these people are still my friends.”

One thing many of us said in the aftermath of T’s death was that a lot of people didn’t understand why we were so sad about someone we had never met.  For many of the women, even their husbands didn’t understand.  I know to us, it seems normal but to many others, it seems strange.  To me, this seems to be something that is becoming MORE normal.  With the invention of blogs, and social media like Facebook and Twitter, I think more and more people are meeting friends virtually.  I think people need to understand that even virtually, someone can be a good friend.  And more importantly, it’s normal to mourn the loss of one of those friends.

The pain of T’s loss is fading but our group has become closer which I didn’t even think was possible.  These women remain part of my everyday life even after almost 9 years.  I hope they all know how much I love and appreciate them and I hope to be friends for many more years to come.