August 12, 2015
A couple of weeks ago, I came upon one of those postings on FaceBook, the kind that urge you to use it to change your status for an hour if it’s something you can identify with. The words that caught my attention were: “A person who loses a partner is called a widow. A child who loses a parent is called an orphan. But there is no word that describes a parent who loses a child because the loss is like no other.” The meme, for lack of a better term, went on to invite others to share it, in memory of lost loved ones of their own, or people they know.
I felt moved to post this and almost immediately people responded. That, right there, is what I love so much about the Internet. Before this platform ever existed, thousands of people went through life feeling isolated, because they had experienced something that no one else they knew had experienced. Be it the loss of a child or grandchild, or almost any negative circumstance you can imagine, people who suffered from such an event often felt alone.
We are born alone, and we die alone, but we don’t have to always feel alone. If we’re lucky, we live our lives among friends and family and find a communion of spirit that uplifts us, and helps us to make sense and meaning of our lives. But even when we’re among loved ones, we can sometimes feel isolated and alone.
We need this wonderful technology of ours so that we can reach across cyberspace and touch those who know what we have endured. There are just times when you need that connection—not only to receive comfort, but to give it as well.
I recall my first experience going online. It was in 2003, in the aftermath of my open heart surgery. I had a long, slow, and difficult recovery. My daughter brought her computer over for me to use one day, and told me that I was going to go online—because she didn’t like to see me just sitting around doing nothing. That proved to be a Godsend because I really couldn’t do a lot, physically. The ultimate goal, of course, was for me to get writing. I began to look for writing contests that I could enter as a first step toward pursuing that long held dream of mine—becoming a published author.
But writing, and researching writing, wasn’t all that I did on line.
I discovered Pogo games. They had word games and Bejeweled and solitaire and Word Whomp. They had bingo! I used to love to go to bingo both alone, and with my daughter once in a while before my surgery, so that was something for me to do online that was fun. Pogo is a free game site, or you can buy a membership and skip the “ads”. They have all sorts of games, and the basic structure is that the games are organized in “chat rooms”. So while you’re playing bingo, or crossword, or hidden object games, you can, if you’re so inclined, chat with others who are doing the same.
Some of the women I “met” in these rooms I also later met in person. And some of the women I met there online were what we used to call “shut-ins”. They were in wheelchairs, and older, or recovering from heart surgery, and rarely got out to socialize. But when they played bingo every afternoon, they were really getting together with their friends. They’d agree to go to a specific ‘room’ (the rooms all have names) at a specific time. Each would first get their coffee or tea, and then they would settle in for a couple of hours of bingo, and chatting. The conversations were lively and uplifting and funny, sometimes so funny that you’d be close to tears.
What a wonderful thing the Internet was for these people! And really, it’s still a life line for those who need it to be one.
Of course these days, I don’t go onto those game sites the way I used to, before I was published. I do work a crossword puzzle in the morning, and a couple of other games that help to wake up my brain and keep my mind active. Every single morning, I play just two or three games, or maybe it’s four or five. But honestly, I play these games so that I can jump into my workday fully alert, and functioning.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.