Thirteen years ago I became a part of an email loop that grew out of a message board that started on AOL many many moons ago. Does anyone still remember AOL message boards? I was pregnant with Sarah and sought out a posting board called November 1999 Moms. Through this board I became closer friends, (or at least that was my perception at the time) with a few other moms and we began an email loop that was a part of my daily life for two years.
We would talk about every day life as well as our parenting. We shared a great deal of happiness and struggle. I felt as close to some of these women as I would have to a face-to-face friend. I met two of then face-to-face in fact. One lady who I loved dearly and have misplaced, for lack of a better term, Lisa and I, she had visited our home with her children and I traveled to Virginia to be with her family when she became life threateningly ill. Then I lost her, and have looked ever since. She has a simple and common last name, and emails have changed and I just can not find her, but will likely never give up trying.
I also traveled to New York to visit another friend, who I had once treasured and some how offended enough that she and several others simply ended my relationships with them. I think I know what they believe that I did, and frankly in the midst of my severe struggles with PPD after the three girls were born so quickly together, I certainly may have done what they think I did. The thing is, there is no chance for restoration or amends or apologies when a person just cuts you out of their lives.
I have spent the subsequent years wondering what on earth could be so bad that a person is just ‘deleted’. I also wonder what kind of world we live in that people are ‘deletable’. This is a detrimental act that has been brought about by our internet world. If someone offends you, delete, disconnect, or erase that person. They will no longer exist and your life can go on as you wish.
The thing is, that emotions and memories don’t delete so quickly.
The untangling that happened in this email loop was the most painful thing I have experienced in my adult years. It reminded me much of my years in school as an unliked and unwanted person. I am a fairly direct person and if there is a wrong or unsettling between friends, I used to confront the issues and work through them. However, now, I just fear all conflict and will walk away from a person instead of work through it. I believe that I have learned to delete real human beings, largely as a result of how easy it was for me to be deleted.
I don’t consider myself to be stalking when I peek at these women from time to time through whatever internet means I have been able to find. I’m sure they might think that I am, the thing is, I had such deep caring for them and for their families. We all had babies the same month so while November comes and with it, the joy of my own daughters birth, it also brings me such pain to know that children and families are out there that I once considered my dearest and loved children. Poof, gone, as if I never knew a thing about them.
The November 1999 babies are all turning 13. I haven’t heard from them in 11 years, but from time to time I sit and wonder what they are like, how they have grown, what their hobbies are. I have one child that I hold especially close in my prayers because her father was killed in the Cantor-Fitzgerald office on 9/11. So this week, I sat and cried, for the child who never got to know her dad, for me, who may never know how she’s doing, and for these women, every one of them in that email loop from long ago. I do not know exactly what I did, but I have never regretted a loss more than I have regretted losing them.
The experience has wounded me and taught me, once again, that I am not very good friend material. You may stand and think “ok that’s silly”, but in all seriousness, that experience has placed a tape in my head that plays over and over no matter who I meet or when I meet someone knew. I assume, that some how I will blow it, and again be deleted.
Just a bunch of rambling thoughts, but please, today be extra kind to someone, and if you are fortunate enough to have a group of friends, let them know that they matter to you.