Years ago, five to be exact, our friend Marty started a blog. She wrote her grief rawly, out here in the wilds of the blogosphere, words popping up like wildflowers carried on electrons.
I didn’t even know what a blog was. We talked on the (gasp!) telephone, and kept in touch, as we always had, with calls, and emails, and periods of awkward silence after we missed each other’s birthdays (although this, I must admit, was mostly me. I am TERRIBLE about remembering dates. I STILL have nightmares about history exams).
But one day she admitted to me that she had started … blogging, and that there were people out there worth reading, women who were now mothers, writing their truths online. After a while, I went to her site, and was captivated by her storytelling, the way she captured the things she felt important, even in difficult times as her mother went through cancer, and Marty grieved.
I listened, and commented, and eventually she inspired me to blog, and we blogged to each other (there was rarely another reader on this site, in those first months, although bon and The Not Quite Crunchy Parent were quick and early friends), back in the wild days of ’06. Her mother got better, and then worse. Her father got worse, and then there was a time when no one knew what would happen.
I always checked on her. I stood by her. But I didn’t know what else to do, to help my friend, who lived so far away. My friend was hurting. And all I could do was to use my words. To write, to encourage, to cheer her on on good days, and to be there for her on bad days.
And I bought a sympathy card.
I bought it because I was a busy mom, with a toddler boy and a baby on the way, and I was on bedrest for a difficult pregnancy as the baby sat ON. MY. LAST. NERVE. the whole time and I refused painkillers for as long as I could. But her mother got better, and her father got worse, and he got better, and as they continued to cycle, the card shifted ever-downward in the stack of “to do” papers at the right side of my desk.
Eventually, it had sunk so far to the bottom of the papers, and her parents were doing so well, ministering to their church, enjoying together the life they had built, that I tucked it away, smiling, into my box of misfit cards (again, with the not remembering dates!). Marty continued to blog, and so did I, and here we are, almost five years later.
Thousands of posts. Tens of thousands of comments. Twitter was born since then, and so were her sons.
Marty has two wonderful boys who bring her joy every day, and who were with their momma and her momma the last two weeks, while Marty’s father moved to hospice. These sons were the children of Marty’s dreams, the children that she feared her parents would never get to see, to hold, to hear called by their names.
Her parents did see the births of her babies, and they were there through her own difficult pregnancies, the loss of her angels (it was Marty and bon and Kate who taught me that it’s ok to speak of them, that mentioning the loss of a loved one does not break open the wound anew. I remember them, Marty. I remember you loving them so much, even before they were born).
Her parents did hold Christopher. They did hold Colin. Christopher and Colin are wonderful boys, and I am sure that Christopher calls them each by name.
And then, Marty’s father died.
I don’t know what comes next for her, but I know one thing. I will be here, reading, writing, supporting my friend. Whether she wants to talk about it or the boys or something entirely different. Because the biggest thing that she has taught me is how friends can do that for each other, through thick and thin, college and grad school, marriages, miscarriages, children, and disease. Through good times and bad.
Sharing the circle of friendship doesn’t weaken the original bonds; it makes them even stronger.