Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Friend for a Few Seasons

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.

22 comments:

Perpetual Chocoholic said...

Nice story!

Mothermari said...

How touching....thanks for a great read!

Tammy Howard said...

That IS a great story. Thanks for sharing!

Michelle O'Neil said...

Wow. Great story! The internet is amazing.

Mich said...

I'm so glad you found this friend when you needed him. You should definitely keep the notebooks.

Carole said...

I agree - you should definitely keep the notebooks. Very interesting story - you have a great perspective.

Jeanie said...

Oh, Bonnie -- I knew about some of this, but I never knew about the notebooks. They are such a treasure -- a reminder of so many things: Of where you were, of where you are now, of those who helped you through that very dark time. And G had something few others could bring to the table -- that first-hand experience that isn't sympathy or pity or the helplessness of not knowing what to do to help.

This book is a treasure to be saved, shared as you like, and honored. I think you will always be friends, just a different kind of friendship. Perhaps he was one of your angels. They're everywhere, you know!

Delaney said...

Very cool and thank you for sharing it.

croneandbearit said...

I am convinced God puts people in our lives and we in theirs for a purpose and G was obviously there at a time that was needed for both of you. Keep the notebooks and keep the memory. I love that you shared it with all of us. Hugs!

Ellen said...

what a great story. you should definitely keep the notebooks.

Sandy said...

That is a great story. I'm so glad you did eventually meet face to face. You touch on the idea of couples meeting online and getting together. I think it can make sense because when you are corresponding that way none of the other distractions come in. If I were to ever find myself single again (Please god NO) I wouldn't hesitate to look into online dating.

Laura said...

Serendipity in the age of internet connections. What a beautiful connection. I never believed that friendships need to last forever, as you said, they come to serve us when we need them, and then, when we need to transition to other things, they may leave us.

Those journals are a great reminder how much we do need to connect with each other, how much we need to lean on and learn from each other. The strength of that friendship is something that you will always have within.

Pam said...

It's so true that many friends come and go in our lives. I've never thought about a "friend for a season" (I must have missed that email). But it makes sense. So glad you met G at the right time in your life. Having the support of people of who also walk in your shoes can be priceless. And how special that you were able to meet him. I'd keep the notebooks, too.

Christine said...

I'm about to get very corny, please bear with me:)

I can really relate to the friendship you had with G. I've had many just like it. I refer to them as 'Spring Friends'. Spring, because it's my favorite season and even though it's fleeting, it's beautiful. You come into each others lives for whatever reason, and are nurtured and bloom. Just because it doesn't last forever, doesn't mean it wasn't substantial, right?

/end cornyness :D

Elle said...

This is a fantastic story. It's so true that you really can get to know people over the internet. Sometimes even more quickly than in person, I think, because people seem to let their guard down more and be more honest in emails. My husband and I met online. We emailed for about a month before going on our first date. By the time we met in person, I felt like I'd known him for a lifetime.

"Cottage By The Sea" said...

Your post touched me very much. I also have a son with special needs and sometimes when the mothering of him becomes too much, someone will come into my life, even if only for a short while. But that person will have a story to tell, or an ear to listen, which has been somehow and sometime to the same place I have been. I'm happy yet not surprised to know that there are other people out there to whom this has happened. There is a purpose for every experience and especially for every friendship.

Shannon said...

sounds like God put him in your life for a reason! Thanks so much for sharin! Found you through W.O.W. Congratulations on your Bon-ness!

WhiteSockGirl aka The Fabulous Bitch said...

An awesome post.
Some friends would stay in our lives for just a certain period of time, touched our lives, leave their prints, and then leave again. For me, those friends would forever hold a special place in my memories. And those memories are the ones that you have of G. Sure, he changed. But he played a great part in your life, meant a lot to you. Even though you would would throw away the books, you will have those memories forever.

croneandbearit said...

I am convinced that all of us are put on this earth for a reason and that you and G needed each other. What a wonderful heartwarming and yet sad story. Thank you for sharing it with us Bonnie!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

In a way, he is a friend for life because all the good that came from that friendship will last forever, even if he has traveled in a different direction.

Muckala Family said...

What a great story you share & the reminder of how friends come and go and we shouldn't take it personal when some friends "leave". Thank you.

Jenny said...

What a great story. I'm glad you found help and support when you most needed it. It's amazing how things work out like that sometimes!