The Internet is creepy. A land of voyeurism and judgement. A hot bed for the exchange of righteous opinions and bad information. Shameless self-promotion, shameful self-deprecation. Wedding pictures. Food imagery. Hashtags and viral videos.
My relationship with the internet is like most of my recent romances: Addicting and fascinating. Repulsive and dangerous. One day exhilarating. The next day devastating. every encounter filled with internal conflict between how I am and how I want to be.
Late last summer I sat on my computer trying to piece together my post-law-school plan. Still jet lagged from a month in Asia, I could barely face the idea of starting the next chapter of my life. I felt paralyzed by uncertainty, resistant to changes already taking place.
Without explanation, a post popped up on my Facebook page from one of my high school classmates. I hadn’t seen any internet action from this guy since we first connected online in the early days of the website. I hadn’t seen this guy in person since graduation day.
My mind flashed on memories of Miles from the Varsity basketball team and our school student government. He was uniquely wholesome in a pure and genuine way. Years before the movie empire was conceived, he looked and acted like a character from Disney’s High School Musical He was smart and silly and loveable. The type of boy the mom of a high school girl would encourage her daughter to go out with. The clearest, most vivid vision I have of him is at the bedside of his long-time girlfriend. She broke her back in a freak ski accident, and in the days that followed, he spent every minute next to her in a tiny downstairs room of her parents’ house.
Years later, I would wonder if he was put on the planet to support strong women in their recovery from unthinkable events.
My focus lands back on my computer. He writes a blog. I click on it immediately.
I read three words and burst into tears.
The blog was launched in response to Miles’ wife’s cancer diagnosis. His 28 year old wife. With stage four lung cancer. A vibrant, beautiful young woman. Full of life and love and energy and potential. Dreams and plans stretching far into the future.
I kept reading. And crying. Then crying some more.
I read every post dating back to late June when she was first diagnosed. I cringed thinking about so many late-June hysterical breakdowns in the face of my Barbri Paced Program Study List. Perspective is not retro-active.
An hour later I closed my computer and pulled a blanket over the top of my head. I shrunk into my couch. I wanted the entire experience to evaporate. I felt a surge of anger and frustration still lingering from my loss of Heather. I felt too weak to take on the sadness. I decided I needed to let it go, or, more likely, block it out.
But as the weeks went on, I was back on the blog. Over and over again.
Miles writes clearly with humor and sincerity. His narrative voice is beautiful and funny and evocative. Reading his blog, I feel like we’re sitting at brunch together sharing our lives. His support of, and dedication to his wife animates every word. The blog, designed to give medical information and updates, reads like an elegant, honest and witty love story.
Out of sadness, I feel hope. The courage of this woman is indescribable. In every picture, she is beaming. The mere description of her battle leaves me exhausted and yet she continues to prevail. I have laughed and cried with her. She’s become one of my most important teachers of the practices of presence and unconditional love. A reminder to value the life I have. The moments of health and deep breaths and illness free meals with people I love. She gives me hope that in the face of challenge, I too could find the strength of a resilient warrior goddess, who refuses to give up.
Miles and his wife are strangers to me. We may never see or talk to each other in real-life. Still, I feel a deep and intimate connection to their story, their strength and their ongoing optimism and bravery. I feel tremendous gratitude to them for illuminating this deeply private struggle in their lives.
You can find love and inspiration here.
You can donate to help Emily’s recovery and research for future lung cancer patients.
You can fall in love with Miles’ entire family. You can be inspired by a remarkable story. You can creep on the internet, and find something beautiful.