24 October 2012

~ A Day with Friends from Across the World ~

How ironic that after blogging for so long,
I have never met any of my treasured blog friends in person.
And then the friend I do get to finally meet?

Well, she is from half-way around the world!
The Netherlands, to be exact.

Not quite sure how Bianca and I found each other.
I do remember, that Fibromyalgia was our first connection.
Finding someone whose life mirrors your own,
in so many ways, is always a blessing.
But, both of us having Fibro is
 just a tiny fraction of our friendship.
~  ~ ~
When I found out that Bianca and her husband Henk
would be coming to the U.S. for a trip through the southern states, 
and asked if they could somehow meet up with us...
I was more than thrilled!

While Bianca was struggling with lack of energy
and constant pain on the last week of their trip, so was I.
The morning of our big day,
 I awoke with swollen, painful eyes,
and a lumpy face shaped like a full moon,
and a body enduring painful pin pricks that said, 
"Nope, not gonna let you feel good today."
Part Fibro. Part Lupus.
The only good thing about the two of us having 
the same chronic illness is that we both understand
what the other is going through.
Some days I don't look as bad as I feel.
This day was not one of them.
Bianca took one look at me and she knew.
And I knew how she was feeling also.
It was nice to not have to explain.
That tiny fraction of our friendship....
is a good one.

We met up with Bianca and Henk in the little town
of Tellico Plains, Tennessee. 
And from there we began our adventure.
We rode in the large SUV they had 
rented for their month-long trip.
A very comfortable ride for Bianca since 
all these southern back-roads they like traveling
are quite curvy and bumpy.
And a great ride for Henk who does all their driving!
I sat behind driver Henk.
 Bianca behind passenger J.
Each time we stopped to visit another place of beauty,
Henk helped me out of the car, while J helped Bianca.
{Two gimpy chicks! 
Sometimes I have to be able to laugh at myself!}
Each guy knew exactly how to help, 
without any words being spoken.
Four people connected by chronic illness.
Two really awesome husbands.

Our first place of "must-stop-at" was a little 
drive-in restaurant called "The Beach."
They just celebrated their 50TH anniversary.
A menus filled with coney dogs and burgers.
And the best milkshakes ever!

Whenever J and I take a drive on the Skyway,
a milkshake from "The Beach" is our tradition.
Everyone got shakes except Bianca,
who was absolutely thrilled that "The Beach" 
had Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream!
Something she cannot get in The Netherlands.
Not even the pre-made cookie dough!!
That is almost a crime :)

We sat and talked for a while as the river flowed by us.
Easy, good conversation.
I would love for Bianca to do a post
on the many differences between 
The Netherlands and the U.S.
{ I will not be complaining about
the cost of gas here in the U.S. anymore.
They are paying $8.50 a gallon!}
Each learning interesting things about living in
two very different places in the world.
Never a lull.
Why are these wonderful people not my neighbors :))

Our drive into the Cherokee National Forest 
on the Skyway was "Fall Leaf Heaven"!
The trees, almost at their peak, in all their finery
were most certainly showing off for this Dutch couple.

We stopped first at Bald River Falls.
Along with other tourists, we marveled at the beauty.
Then we trekked further up the Skyway,
and pulled off to a gorgeous spot that let us see
   how high in the mountains we actually were.

On to Indian Boundary.
Where in the summer, you leave a dollar bill 
in a little lock-box to cover your parking spot.
And then swim, lay in the sun on the sandy beach,
and cook out on the provided grills.

The afternoon we were here, a family was camping.
With two little boys and two pups.
The four of them ran up and down the beach and 
one of the dogs braved the icy cold water.
He didn't stay in long!

The guys were off exploring, 
finding out they had a whole lot in common!
And Bianca and I ended up chatting.
All things "girl-talk"!
Easy conversation that just flowed like we had 
been friends for years.
Not two people who only knew each other through
blog posts and emails.
And speaking of blogging?
We never talked about it once! 

How lucky are we that the four of us got to meet.
How strange that of all the wonderful people 
I have met through blogging, 
the one I get to meet in person is on a month-long
tour of the southern states in the U.S. and 
planned on spending a day in 
my county without even knowing this is where I live!
Fate? Irony?
I have no clue.
What I do know is that this world of blogging is so
much more than any of us even realize at times.
A wonderful community of people sharing their lives.
One post at a time.

Thank you for asking to spend a day with us, Bianca and Henk.
Someday we hope to visit your very beautiful country!

And I hope all of you enjoyed coming along on
 our day-trip through words and pictures.
I am happy to be back in the land of Blog.
Thanks for the emails and Facebook messages 
you wrote to check in on me.
You're a bunch of good souls!
I have missed all you so very much.

Bianca and Henk made it home safe,
after a 22 hour flight!

In September Bianca wrote her story of Chronic Illness. 
You can read this by clicking here. Well worth your time!


Karen said...

Amazing, how this blogland can bring such good people together, isn't it? So glad you were able to spend time together, great photos too! Misha, you'd never know either one of you were suffering, you are beautiful inside and out.

I hope today is a good day and you can get out and enjoy your critters some.

Donna said...

How wonderful that you got to meet and visit! This is a heartwarming story of kindred spirits.

I'd love to come visit you someday - just say the word when you'd like some company!

Mrs.B said...

What a wonderful story and beautiful pictures.

Jeanette said...

How wonderful that you got to spend the day with a blogger friend! And what a beautiful time of year for her to be there! I've met two of my blogging buddies so far and hope to meet a lot more!

Freda said...

Thanks so much for sharing your day with your friends. The pictures are gorgeous and how happy you all look. I have a little story to tell, hope you don't think we are crazy. I have osteoarthritis and walking is very hard for me every day, my husband has heart disease, in fact he has to have surgery next week for a av fistula in artery near his heart, and my daughter in law is 30 weeks into a very high risk pregnancy, she lost twin baby boys last August but our baby Kord is doing fine right now. We were just sitting here talking when my DIL said to my son"you need to put us in a home cause we are all duds!" So that is what we call ourselfs now just in jest. Hope you have a relatively pain free day and enjoy the beautiful fall colors.

Ashling said...

That's so fantastic! What a wonderful experience to meet a cyber friend for real, and to realize the relationship is just as real in the physical world as in the virtual one. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous journey with us!

Grandma Barb's This and That said...

How wonderful that you could meet Bianca in person and spend a beautiful day together! The fall colors are gorgeous.
I did read Bianca's story and commented on it. She sent me a wonderful email afterwards.
Wishing both you and Bianca many, many pain free days.

Rural Revival said...

I'm so happy you two were able to meet. I can understand how much it means to have someone who 'gets it' in your life and to share with each other your trials. It is easier when you don't have to explain everything. : )


Mary Ann said...

I was just getting ready to get up from the computer when I saw you had posted... I am so glad I read this, it's just a reaffirmation of faith by both of you, and so wonderful.

Gaelyn said...

It is So much fun to meet fellow bloggers, whether they live across the street, county of world. Looks like you all had a marvelous time.

TexWisGirl said...

that is awesome! i love the photo of the 4 of you - so glad someone could take one of the group. kindred spirits, no matter where they reside. blogging makes this world so small. wonderful.

Bianca said...

Love your look on our day together. So nice to read you felt just like I did; no need to explane and our great guys helping us. Just as you said, J helped me just like Henk does. I really think I couldn't function without his help.

Oh, the flight back was "only" 9 hours... Not 22... (I would never survive that!!! LOL)

Big dutch hug from us both!

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I loved this post and can feel the warmth and love in your words. You're right about blogging friends--I've met 3 of them and feel like I am meeting people I already know. I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit, making those memories that I know will last a lifetime and bind you all together!

Betsy Adams said...

How wonderful to meet blog friends --especially someone from SO far away. That is awesome, Misha....

We love all of those areas you pictured and talked about --except The Beach.... Need to check that place out. We LOVE ice cream.

sydney K said...

Thats wonderful. I remember my mother suffering with her fybro. Luckily it's mostly in remission now. She deals with her rheumatoid arthritis now.

Francis Dalebout said...

What a great blogpost and wonderful report of the day. Just lóve the pictures.
It's so nice to read and hear how you all connected and could be together without having to explain or feel bad because you don't have that extra spoon for the day. Husbands who know and help and find out they have things in common too.
I know having a friend like that means the world to Bianca.

I always say 'there's no such thing as coincidence' and that applies for your friendship as well.

And no... there's no such thing as eating just one stroopwafel (or one Dutch chocolat) either ;)

Francis, Bianca's sister

Diane Cayton-Hakey said...

How nice that you were able to spend time together in person and that you have a true understanding of what the other is going through.

Hope you are having a good day today, Misha!

Kayla @ TheEclecticElement said...

I couldn't agree with you more Misha. After blogging for nearly 3+ years, I've "met" so many wonderful and incredible people (you included of course) that have becoming so close to my heart even though they're generally most times far away.

I certainly hope one day I'll be able to meet every single one of them!

I'm glad you were able to meet the sweet Bianca and spend the day together. It really sounds like you guys had an awesome time :)

Donna said...

So glad you got to meet Bianca and Henk! I am so jealous :) Looks and sounds like you had a wonderful day together. The pics are gorgeous. I am going to meet up with you sometime in the near future my sweet friend.
Hope you are all feeling better.
The chocolates are adorable! I got some too in the mail :) I just can't eat them yet ... too cute!

Lynne said...

Wonderful that you met Bianca . . . Great the four of you could be together.

I really like seeing you sharing your "view from the front porch" today. One day at a time . . . Enjoy!

Melinda said...

A truly wonderful story!

It is always such fun to meet blog friends and I am glad that you got that chance!

What beautiful Fall pictures.

It is good to see you again.

Take care.

M :)

Buttons said...

Oh Misha this is wonderful I often dream of meeting some blogger friends but I must admit I never thought of them coming from so far away. That is an amazing thing.
I love Stroopwafels and those chocolates are very cool.
I am so happy you posted your one day amazing trip it is so nice of you to show them around I am sure it is a trip they will never forget.
I having Fibro always think about the people I talk to that also have Fibro here in Bloggerland and wonder how they deal with the day to day. It is so wonderful that you had the opportunity to meet and share experiences with someone who truly gets it.
I love the photos and I am sure neither one of you will ever forget this.
I am off to check out Bianca's blog and book. Take care Hugs. B