Back in late 2007, when Jesse came home on leave from basic training and we got re-engaged, I was thrust head first, arms flailing, in to the military life. My first stop in finding support was the internet, where I found a website that, at the time, saved my life. The website was called Military Issued Girlfriends, and was an internet forum that facilitated me meeting some of the best friends of my life. They welcomed me with open hearts and minds, and guided me, acronym by acronym, into the sisterhood of military wives.
We were all spread around the world, from Germany to South Korea to Hawaii, to Florida, and everywhere in between. With these women, I went through marriage, moving to the other side of the world and back, two pregnancies, and the breakdown that led to separation and eventually divorce. A lot of these women know me better than friends I've known in real life. We've helped each other through PCSing (that's moving in military-ese), and pregnancy scares and raising babies and the tougher things like making it through divorces. The best part about MIG (more acronyms, yay!) is that it's where I met my very best friend. It's where I met Lyssa, my sweet and awesome bestie that I've never actually met face to face. Funny, huh? But that's how us military wives work. We get used to moving new places and saying goodbye to friends, old and new. We remind each other not to get too attached to that coffee shop just outside of post because in just a couple of years, the movers will be back and home will be someplace new. But we always have that network behind the scenes, the friends who move with us and get to know us from behind the screen of a monitor and the finger taps of a keyboard.
At one point, a close group of us all disbanded from the original MIG, creating our own smaller, more intimate forum. They are my women of liberty. It is these women whom I consider to be my closest friends. With them, I have the kind of relationships where I can make a post in the middle of the night, and they're all there for me, cheering me on and encouraging me like I haven't just disappeared without stopping in to say hello for months. We've all exchanged letters and birthday cards and Christmas presents with each other. They are relationships that have been 6 years in the making for me. They've watched my babies grow from the first pregnancy tests into two adorable little children.
MIG shut down last week, after something like 9 years running. It was a result of the high cost of running an online network and the dispersion that we've all made over the years, checking in less and less as we grew busier and busier in our individual lives. I, myself, hadn't checked into MIG in probably a month or so, and hadn't actually posted there in probably a year. So when Lyssa texted me last week to tell me that MIG was shutting down, I got more emotional over it than I would have expected. I started thinking back to the women I've met and the moments I've shared. It's not all that significant that the website has shut down, I guess. We've still got our own smaller forum of the refugees of MIG, for now at least. Even yet, we all keep in contact, whether it's through Facebook, or in some cases, daily text messages. But it's still sad to think that MIG has shut down. It's silly to say, but it's almost like hearing that they've decided to close the doors of your high school. You've moved on, you've graduated, and it doesn't really affect your life that its gone, but it still pulls a little tightly on your heart strings when you hear the news.
One of the funny things about only knowing these friends from online is that when several of us all get pregnant at the same time, we watch our babies grow up together without ever actually knowing each others' babies. I guess it's something like having virtual playdates. Four years after my daughter's birth, I celebrate the birthdays of Jackson and Max and Fiona and Matthew and Cecilia, and all of the other four year olds that I had the pleasure of watching grow up alongside my Cori. And after more than two years since my son's birth, I check up on Garrett and Liam and Ellyana and all of the other two year olds that have grown up as Avery has. They are my military family. The ones you pick and the ones you hold in your heart forever. Divorced or not, I will always be a part of the sisterhood that is military wifehood.