I have been a part of a couple of internet comunities since late 2002, when my daugher was a wee babe. I've gotten to "know" several women very well in that time. Some of them, just for fun, and some of them because of hard times. In particular, last year, one acquaintance was reeling from some pretty horrible medical news. She had recently found out that she had a genetic predisposition to cancer, and had unfortunately passed the gene on to two of her children.
One day, she had an acute need to talk to someone, so I gave her my yahoo IM name. We chatted a little. We didn't know each other very well at tthat point, but I knew she had a real need to vent about her situation. I don't know if it helped her, but after that, I felt like we were linked. There was now a bond with this woman. In the last year + since, she's had several surgeries, countless different drugs to try to help her cope with the side effects of said surgeries and cancer, as well as a move across the country. As if she doesn't have enough to do, she decided that homeshcooling was the best thing for her kids. I don't know where she gets the energy for all that.
We don't talk much anymore-- she's too busy with life to 'hang out' on inane internet message boards, but I read her blog when I have a chance. And I wish that she lived close enough that I could hug her and make it all easier for her. But I'll have to settle for knowing her online, and drawing strength from her humor and fortitude in the face of a all sorts of crap.
And she's a better writer than I. ;)