Mike and I got married in March of 1998. In July of the same year, we moved from Ft Polk, LA to Ft Bragg, NC. In August of 1998, I went online to look for a playgroup and other forms of contact in the area. I stumbled upon a message board for pregnant women. At the time, I was due in November. I joined the group and although that message board went down, the women went in various directions. Some disappeared completely, some moved on to another message board and others created an email list. I joined both the list and the message board. This month makes 12 years that we have been in contact. Twelve years of varied mothering experiences. We have seen each other through the births of more children, potty training, divorces, marriages, graduations, and losses.
To someone who has never experienced this type of friendship, it can be hard to comprehend the closeness you can feel for someone you have never met in person. When you have known someone for that long, shared so many of lives ups and downs, it's easy to overlook the fact that you've never seen each other in person. Indeed, I have met quite a few of these women face to face.I've made some wonderfully close friends as result of this group of women, one of whom was by my side in Dec when we laid my Mom to rest.
On Monday morning, one of the moms from the email list posted that she had been offline for a couple of months, but was excited that they had their internet back. Being the mother of four sons, she was due to have a baby, a daughter! She let us know that she was going in the next day for a c-section and would post details as soon as she could. Upon opening my email on Wednesday morning, I learned, we all learned, that after giving birth to her beautiful, healthy daughter, our friend passed away. To say we are devastated is an understatement.
The list had been somewhat quite in recent months. We are all busy with our lives and comfortable in the bonds we have formed, enough to know that our silence did not hinder our acceptance and love for one another. Upon hearing of the loss of our friend, we have rallied. We are in the process of taking collections to provide her sons with their school supplies and uniforms. While a recent baby shower ensured that the baby had the things she needs now, we are standing in wait to help with any needs they may have once things resume a more normal cadence in the life of this family.
It's been quite sombering to look at life, to see how fragile it is. It has made us all stop to wonder how would our own families cope if something were to happen to any one of us. How would our children go on, how would our spouses fair. It's not something any of us want to think about, but the truth is, it is always a possiblity.
I don't have any wise words to say. I'm still in shock at the way things have turned out. On the heels of my last post about loss, this was the last thing I expected to happen. I guess my thought right now is that I'm thankful for the richness that these Moms of Nov98ers have all brought into my life. I've learned so much more about life, families, children and love from the shared experience of their stories. I could only wish that if my family found themselves without me, that they would also feel the love of these amazing friends that I have, inside this shiny box.