I was writing a post for Mrs Brown's Blog about childhood cancer, and being a "virtual" friend through it. It got me thinking a lot about the evolution of friendships. You had your village. You had your family. You had work friends. School friends. All real people with a link through some physical thing throwing you together. Then came the Internet. There were chat rooms for people to talk. Online forums that have evolved over time. From asking a/s/l, to joining huge groups specialised with sections. I tried various groups over time, but it was in parenting groups that I made my first real connections. I rounded up the people I had made friends with on the Huggies Nappy boards, and created Escape the Nappies as an msn group. We grew, and again evolved and moved on. New forums and formats came and went, and with them, friends. I have always struggled to talk to Real Life people, but behind a screen I could be open, I could be myself. Some of my closest Real Life friends started off in my computer. Some of my closest friends in general still live purely in my computer. These changing forms of friendships though are no less real or pure than the traditional kind. It is because of the people in my computer that I survived antenatal depression. People in my computer helped me diagnose and understand my ADHD. They held my virtual hand through divorce. They came and held my newborns in real life. They talked to me through my labours (literally "what do you mean you sent the midwife to someone else??"). I have cried tears of joy because a woman I never met could breastfeed her son. I have stayed up all night waiting for news of a heart transplant for a man I know through words. I have wept over "virtual" friends miscarrying. I have been there when they just needed a person. I have watched as they have been through heartache, just wanting to hold them but only able to offer words and love. My heart has broken as they have endured more pain than I can begin to imagine. Many of these people will always be "virtual" friends. But they are all as real as any physical Real Life friends, and all as loved. This is for all my friends. The ones I can physically touch, but also the ones whose voices I don't know, who I could pass in the street without recognising (well no more than that familiar niggle of a face you can't place). Those who have known me at my lowest and still loved me. Those who I would move heaven and earth to help even if I only know them by a username.