I really begin to think about the value of friendship every now and again. I think of friendships of the past and how some friends truly are only meant for one season while others are meant to stick with us for a few and sometimes we get really lucky and a friendship last a lifetime. I remember my first best friend. Although our friendship ended abruptly, we reconnected online a couple of years ago. I remember most of my friends from elementary school. I thought they were "one season" friends - but the internet has helped us reconnect. Then there were high school friends - Some of them I still see on a monthly basis and others I haven't seen in years. One high school friend has been my best friend for at least the last 10 years.
Then, there are my Lyme friends. When I was diagnosed, I got online and searched for every single Lyme forum there was. I must have been on five different Lyme boards. We all had "user names" and it was very "anonymous," however some people I found myself connecting with. After a while, the forums lost their usefulness. As I learned more and the groups got more volatile, I left the groups. However before I did, I was able to connect with my friends from the forum on facebook. Well, the thing about Lyme forums is that you really don't know how old some people are when you start connecting with them. What I found quickly is that some of the people I was fond of were mother/daughter pairings. All of the daughters were teenagers (actually they were all 15) and their mom's were on the forum to make sure their daughters didn't get into trouble on the forum and to protect them.
As a woman in my 30's, I was concerned about talking to these girls 1/2 my age. I just knew that if they were my girls, I wouldn't want them just talking to anyone - so I got close to their mother's. They were purposeful friendships. First, I knew that I could connect with the adult on a different level and I could be a good contact for the daughters. Someone they could safely talk to about issues. I never realized that 5 and 1/2 years later that I would STILL be close friends with both the daughters and the mothers.
I'd like to take a moment to talk about each of them - because they are each special in their own ways. I have a different bond with each of them. They are each strong in their own unique ways.
First I'd like to talk about my friend "S" and her Mom "V" - When I started talking to "S," I was really worried her Mom wouldn't want her to talk with me. So I talked to her on the phone once and then I knew she was more than excited to have me talk with her daughter. "S" and I talk on the phone at least once a month. I do this to check on her and to hear how she's doing. I try to talk about crazy life stories just so she's not enamored with "how are you doing? I'm so worried" questions. Together, we've formed several facebook groups have helped many over the last 5 years. We had one wacky chat together one night 5 years ago and that wacky chat turned out to be an amazing tool for others. I went to S's high school graduation and spent time at her mom's home and we recently got to hang out in person again last weekend.
Second, I'd like to talk about TL and her Mom. I didn't get to connect with TL's Mom online, but TL knew that I was safe. Then once TL came all the way to the east coast and did a Lyme Friends Tour. She got to meet a lot of us in person during that trip. I got to meet her mom. TL and I have a bond that no one else shares. Then this past weekend, we got to hang out again - on two different days and on one of those days she got to see my home. She actually brought me a beautiful picture frame with scripture on it with our picture in it from her trip here in 2010. I don't get to talk to her on the phone all that often because of the 3 hour time difference, but we do get to chat online often. We encourage each other.
Next, there's K & her mom J. Now J has got to be the most caring understanding person I've ever met. Now honestly when I'd talk to these girls back in teh day, I did my best to be an uplifter. I rarely complained about my own ailments, but one day I had a really bad day and I really needed to talk to someone. K offered me her Mom's phone number and I got to talk to J on the phone. In just a few sentences, J calmed me down and helped me to realize that I was safe and that the journey I was on was normal. K & J live roughly 3 hours from me and for the first time this past weekend, I got to visit with them in person.
Then, there's H&D. I have yet to meet them. We "just" missed each other this weekend. I talk to Mom now more than I talk with H, but there's still a bond. - There are so many more stories like this -
Now, we've all been friends for this unbelievable season in our lives. I think we will all be life long friends. Now the funny part about all of this - is that they were all 15 when we connected online and now they are all 21. I've "watched" them grow up and mature. I feel like a proud mama that has watched them grow from these girls to women.
Well all have one thing in common: Lyme Disease. That is what brought us together, but we encourage each other and lift each other up in times of weakness and isn't that what friendships are for? Yes, they are my Lyme friends - Yes, I met them on the internet. However, they know me. I know them. In some ways, we probably know each other better than our healthy friends know us. I am so glad that these friends didn't just last during my "getting to understand Lyme Disease in a bunch of forums season." I'm glad we stuck around and I can't wait to see these ladies again.
With Lyme, it is a struggle to find support. People say they want to help, but then they don't. It's not that they don't want to or can't - it's just that they don't know what to do and we don't want to ask because we don't want to put anyone out and ask for help. Lyme connections are important for those of us with Lyme. It's important to connect with someone that gets it and unfortunately you don't get Lyme until you get Lyme.
Want to support Lyme patients? Register to walk in the Beat the Bite 5K in Cary NC. Come and talk to one random Lyme patient. Ask their story. It will shock and inspire you. It will change your life.