Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Joys

I have internet friends.  No, not the bloggers I interact with on the web or the people I Tweet with.

I consider this group of about 25 women true friends.  I know more about their children and their lives than I do some friends I have in real life.  We are bonded, first through the births of our children, and then through the interweavings of life.  I talk about these ladies, and the different experiences in their lives, as if I have actually seen them in person and heard their voices.

We met on BabyCenter in 2003, as "20somethings" pregnant with our first children, due in January 2004.  When Bean and I first began to plan our first pregnancy, I wanted to learn more about ovulation and conception.  Up until that point I really hadn't needed to know much.  I googled "ovulation calculator" on my MSN dial-up internet, and BabyCenter was one of the first sites that popped up.  I clicked on it, and the rest is history.  I then discovered the bulletin boards and began to read and learn. 

I actually didn't join in much on the conversation in the "January Joys" group during my pregnancy.  I mostly read what others were experiencing and their day to day lifes.  After the babies were born--their actual birthdays stretch from December 2003 to February 2004--the group decided to move to a more private board.  I had enjoyed my participation from afar, so I decided to become more active and they welcomed me.

In the days when our babies were young, we posted a lot.  It wasn't uncommon for our daily conversation thread to be 50 or 60 posts long.  We shared our challenges with everything baby-related, and then began to share more of our lives as well.  As our "January Joys" have gotten older, and most of us have added more children to our families, we don't have the time to stay in touch like we once did.  Thankfully, most of us joined Facebook around the same time and are able to keep up with one another through status updates and a private group page we established there.

We've all known, as the years have gone by, that we'll walk with each other through some of life's most difficult journey's.  One of our January Joys was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis as an infant, and we've supported this family and learned about this disease. Many ladies began raising money and doing annual Cystic Fibrosis walks for Maddie, and then her sister Gracie who was born a few years later with CF also.  A few years in, one mom went through a divorce, and just recently we witnessed her getting married again!  Last year, we were floored when a husband was diagnosed with brain cancer--a dad with a 5 year old son and 2 year old twins.  He fought valiantly, but died within just a few months.  Parents and siblings have passed away.  Job changes and moving.  Deployment and miscarriages.  We walk together.

And now, it's happened again.  We find ourselves on another difficult journey.  The 2yr old daughter of another mom has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain stem tumor.  She is not much younger than Gracie.  Her brother, Jefferey is one of the youngest Joys.  Miss Rose has often been the "biggest" Joy in size, and Jeffrey happens to be one of the smallest.  His mom and I always laughed (cyber-laugh) that they would be quite a site together!  There is nothing right about this situation.  Nothing okay with it.  My heart breaks.

It's a special connection we all share.  As I scroll through Facebook tonight, almost everyone of the "Joys" has shared the Caring Bridge link for little Bizzie, asking their friends to pray for this little girl.  We hurt together for this family.  We pray together, although each one is at different places in their faith journeys.

 Some of the Joys have been able to meet up in person.  I've wanted to, but it hasn't worked out yet.

One day though, I will meet them.  My Joys.

Pray for Bizzie with me. 

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