When I first started this blog, I imagined that my only readers would be my friends and family- those who were curious about Pudding and autism, but didn’t like to ask. I wasn’t expecting to become part of a community at all, so imagine my delight at becoming part of two: the autism-mama-blogger community, and the Foreign Service blogger community. Pretty amazing for someone feeling the isolation of being a foreign-born spouse on a domestic tour, and the isolation of being a special needs stay-at-home parent. I joke that blogging is the alternative to therapy for those who can’t afford it, but I can’t quite bring myself to laugh.
Both of my communities have their share of hardships, and I continue to be amazed by how strongly I can feel for people I’ve never met. I’m often at a loss to know what to do to make things better; sometimes all I can do is read a person’s story, and sometimes tell mine. My husband’s colleagues around the world and their families are going through some extraordinarily difficult times. They aren’t my stories to share, but later this week when they are collated into a Round-Up, I hope to link you to them. It is hard to imagine that in the midst of such turmoil and trauma, we don’t know if we’ll get paid next month. Oh, and on top of this, there are moves to eradicate locality pay for State Department employees overseas, but not for any other agency of the US Government. Our family is already living paycheck to paycheck, I don’t know what will happen.
Communities are not all about suffering and hardship though. I’ve made some incredibly supportive connections as being part of these communities. Another unexpected thing has happened, I’ve made some friendships. A couple of weeks ago, I got to meet the lovely Jen for coffee, who is just as great as I imagined her to be. It is quite surreal to meet someone in real life who you have only known virtually, but I’d referred to her previously as a friend I hadn’t yet met, and now I have. We’re going to get together again soon, this time with the kids.
In May, I’m going to meet my sister-from-another-mister friend Alysia. Every time I read one of her beautiful posts, I’m amazed at her ability to capture my feelings in her words. Though I’m still a few months from meeting her, we’re already friends. We decided a few months ago that we had to meet before I skipped the country. I’ll also get to meet Varda, another awesome Hopeful Parent writer who writes incredibly powerful posts drawn from her life. I can’t wait to actually meet these wonderful women in person.
That is the thing about virtual friends, they can become real ones too. Our shared experiences bring us together. My heart goes out to all those dealing with earthquakes, evacuations, drug lords and dictators. Just as much it goes out to those who struggle to connect with their children, who are braving up to a new diagnosis that changes their world, to those dealing with the ongoing pain of watching their loved one fail to adapt to a world that doesn’t understand them. We’re in it together, bruised but still brave.
I might get to meet some more of you, one of these days. Until then I’m right there with you. We’re virtually friends already.