My first internet community

In the year 2000 when my Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor it turned my world and my family’s entire world upside down. He was our strength and the man we all went to for support, whether financial or to tinker with a car engine, he was valued and needed. At that time, my boys were both still fairly young and my time on the internet was minimal at best. Between caring for the boys and a dial-up connection (remember? when we actually connected to the internet with our phone line and everyone got a busy signal if they called when we were online?) that meant I could wash a sinkful of dishes while one page loaded, I simply didn’t have much patience for it. With my Dad’s diagnosis, though, I knew it the best place for me to research and find valuable information, and ultimately find support. This was tough stuff you guys. He was in his early 50’s and healthy and vibrant and it just wasn’t fair. While the internet can open up a world of connections and knowledge, it can also feel overwhelming when trying to find information for such a difficult diagnosis. In my searching I came across a brain tumor support group through Yahoo. They were people who got what it was like to live with something so emotional and scary. Some were parents, wives, sisters, and like me, daughters. It was like I could go to my computer screen and type away my deepest feelings or fears and instantly somebody would respond with support. Then somebody else…..and then there were those truly amazing types who offered their phone number for a deeper kind of support. Offering to talk any time if I needed to talk about what I was going through. And they meant it, that I know without a doubt. This group also gave me something, too, in a bit of a selfish way. I could offer others my love and support and try to forget about my family’s nightmare as it unfolded on this side of the computer screen. It felt good to be there for others. I felt their joys and small successes and I felt their pain when someone shared that yet another beautiful person was taken by these evil monsters known as brain tumors. I often felt more comfortable with this wonderful online community than I did with those who existed in my offline world.

So on the last day of my Dad’s life, when it was my turn to soon share the most devastating of updates that another loved one had lost their battle, I snuck away to the one computer in my Mom and Dad’s home, several times throughout the day. The computer that sat only a few rooms away from where we watched him gradually take fewer breaths and played his favorite music, and gently patted him with a cool damp cloth, the one where I knew I could type a few words and within minutes I’d have words of love and support bursting through my computer screen like a hug wrapping me tightly. And when I shared the most painful words of all, that he was gone, their words were instantaneous, as if they were waiting by their computer screens knowing how much I needed and depended on them that day. Knowing that I would be sitting their with tears on my keyboard and my heart feeling broken into a million pieces. That group of very real people meant the world to me and it was my first true experience with an online community.



  1. I’m so very sorry for your loss, and so very glad that you found support and community when it mattered the most.
    Galit Breen recently posted..A Modern Love StoryMy Profile

  2. This brought tears to my eyes. How devastating to have to go through that, and how wonderful that you had a community of support instantly at your fingertips. The internet can be many bad things, but it can also be amazing and life saving and awesome. It’s the people behind the keys that make it so and I’m so glad you had those people with you during your dad’s illness.

    Nice post in response to the prompt. Very touching and sweet.
    Kathi recently posted..I RebembeREDMy Profile

    • Thank you so much for this wonderful comment, Kathi. It certainly was a very devastating time and I am truly grateful to have found such a wonderful group. A true example of the amazing stuff the internet CAN bring.

  3. Oh, wow. This speaks volume about community and having that soft place to land (virtual, or not). Friends matter. And nobody understands like somebody who has lived it. I’m so glad you found it with your chat room.

    And I’m terribly sorry for your loss.

    • Thank you so much Nancy. You are so right that it makes all the difference to be around those who “get” what we are going through. The support I felt all of those years ago was priceless!

  4. Oh, Cathy.
    My heart just breaks from reading this.
    I know the pain of having a hole where your father should be.
    What an amazing support system you had during such a difficult time.
    This is a beautiful example of just how real our internet friends can be.
    I am so incredibly happy that you linked up with us today.
    We’re thrilled to have you as a part of our community.
    Much love to you, sweet friend.
    Nichole recently posted..All is right with the world…My Profile

    • Thank you Nichole. I know you understand in a very huge way what it feels like to lose the most important man in your life. Thank you for inspiring so many people, including me, to want to write more about such difficult experiences. Friends on the internet are most definitely as real as any we can sit and chat with in person and I feel so very lucky to have found that group back them and for all of the wonderful friends I’ve made in recent years, including you. Thanks for the welcome, too – I knew immediately when I saw this prompt what I would write about, which made it much easier for my first time.

  5. Thankfully, I have not had that kind of loss but I definitely know how strong the bonds of friendship and support can be across the “impersonal” internet. It’s always nice to meet online friends IRL, too- yourself included.
    Naomi recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – Grandma Went to China, and All I Got Was…My Profile

    • I agree Naomi. While it was the toughest time of my life, I’m extremely grateful for such a wonderful and caring community and I’m also grateful for the chances I’ve had to meet some of my current favorites in person – including you.

  6. What a beautiful way to express the love and support you felt. It’s powerful to know there’s a community out there and people willing to lovingly open their arms and hearts to you in hard moments. I understand the pain of losing your father but am so glad you were able to reach out to find comfort and others were willing to grab your hand through the dial up phone line connection.
    Krista recently posted..The Husband…or Spinach…My Profile

    • Thank you Krista! It’s so wonderful to have communities to share our joys and send us virtual hugs for our sorrows. I was very lucky to have that during such a truly challenging time in my life.

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