In that cyberworld, I found friends who had "been there", and friends who were at that very moment exactly where I was. They expressed words for which I had no vocabulary. They gave companionship and comfort in the cold and harsh landscape to which I had been sentenced. I had some friends in real life that did the same, and most of that comfort also came via the internet--text messages and email and facebook. In moving to be near our living children, it necessitated that we move away from our support system. At some point in the past three years, most of my friends and family actually became online friends.
That is slowly changing now. I am gradually regaining a real life, with real moving people in it, but it's not good enough. My real life is often about activities, checklists, getting things done. My online world is more interior. It's about thoughts, feelings and exploring deeper meanings. I get to reflect with others who are figuring out how to live in a strange new land. I would prefer that they all lived near me and that I could meet with them each day, but that won't ever be. So my URL world must do the job. It is essential now for balance. It cannot be replicated in real life, and it doesn't fit into the perfunctory and superficial routines of a typical day. The urgings to "have a good day", when I am out and about, don't meet the needs of my searching heart. And though I nonetheless smile and nod my head, I can do it knowing I have another place where I am known.
I have been on a journey that I didn't choose and for which I was unprepared. My own resources, which had been fairly adequate up to that point in my life, were quickly tapped and emptied. I needed more. I found it online with people who bothered to care. Their daily encouragements, their letters, their shared sorrow, the conversations about the harrowing, yet spiritual places of grief...all so precious. I owe them a great deal and cherish the friendship of many whom I have never or barely met. I bless their presence in my life, and the internet that gave them to me. I believe now that I have been sitting at God's big table of love.