Years ago, when my son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and a bunch of other stuff, I spent a lot of time on the computer, just trying to get information. We went through some very bad years with some very challenging behaviors. I've seen bloggers blogging about issues such as what we went through, and I am very glad to see all the support they get from their followers. When we were going through this stuff, it seemed there wasn't much support out there.
One night I was checking out a site on TS and I started to read the comments. Most comments I couldn't relate to, but one comment just struck a nerve with me. And I sent an email to this stranger ("G"), whose son seemed to have the exact same issues as mine.
I could be completely open with my new friend, because he was going through the exact same stuff. We would tell each other about new medications that were coming out, what our doctors had said, if flax oil was effective (it was, but my son wouldn't take it) and how we responded to some of the difficult behaviors. We worked together to find a new way to live. Both of us were living lives that we never would have envisioned living.
At the time, G was an investment banker in L.A. He and his wife had adopted their son from a woman in Cleveland, where I live. That somehow seemed to link us more. And so began an email correspondence that lasted for several years.
There is an email that comes along every few years about friends - it's about how a friend can be there for a reason, a season, or forever. The gist of it is that sometimes someone comes along to fulfill a need, and that friendship doesn't last forever, but it is there for you in your time of need.
G and I emailed on a daily basis. I printed all the emails and kept them in notebooks. I have 3 full notebooks of our correspondence. After a few years of corresponding, G got divorced from his wife, came out as a gay man, and moved to AZ to open a bed and breakfast. He invited my family to come and stay, as his guest. We accepted.
Shortly before our trip, I went for my annual GYN exam. The dr was making conversation and asked if I had any plans for spring break. I said yes, as a matter of fact, our family is going to stay at this B&B of a man I met online! I told him the story and he kept saying "that is SO cool!"
So our family flew out west for a vacation. We flew to Las Vegas, spent a few days there, and then drove down to AZ. My husband had cousins living in the same city (one lived right across the street from the B&B, which was bizarre, and we introduced him to G). We spent about 5 days getting to know G. I have to smile when I think of that trip, because I think about how all these couples meet online and then decide to get married, and people think "but they haven't even met!" but when you email someone every day, you do get to know them - often better than you know people you spend 8 hours a day with as co-workers.
G's son became more difficult. His wife had sole custody in L.A. and he didn't see his son much. When he did, he had a very difficult time and soon it became easier for him not to see his son at all. Our emails became less frequent, as the focus of what had brought us together had changed. It seemed to me that G changed a lot too. Gradually, I realized that this man who had tried to hard to help his son had basically given up, and wanted to live his life without him.
I still have my notebooks. Once a year or so, I think oh, I should just throw the damn things out. And then I pick them up and start reading. The reason I had printed them and organized them so carefully was that a friend suggested I do this as my own journal of what we lived through. And that is what those notebooks have become for me. When I start to read them, I am really horrified by what we went through. We tend to put very unpleasant things out of our mind, and while I have vague memories of what we went through, those notebooks are the black and white proof of what happened. And it wasn't pretty.
G and I haven't corresponded in about a year. I sometimes get on his B&B website to see if he's still the owner, because he used to talk about doing other things. With no strings attached to anything, he is free to take off for anywhere and start a new life.
I don't think this was a life-long friendship. But it is a friendship that was there for several seasons, and more importantly, it was there for a reason, and I am grateful that we had what we had.