As anyone who has read my blogs knows, I am a member of several online support groups for families with incarcerated loved ones. I have managed to narrow it down to a few small groups as I have discovered that when looking for support, even on a site whose sole purpose is support, you are really rolling the dice at which ones are actually supportive and which ones are simply social networks.
Not long ago, while posting on one of these sites about how alone I felt being 3,000 miles away from my husband without any family, I met a wonderful woman from Texas. The moment she found out how alone I really was, she offered to "adopt" me as her niece. When she first said that she would be my "auntie", I thought the gesture was very nice but that it was no more than that - a gesture. I never truly believed that it would amount to anything more than that. I could not have been more wrong. She didn't think twice about welcoming a woman she has never met and who lives in another country into her family. She opened her heart and her family to me when noone else would. When my own family turned their backs on me, she stood behind me. She has comforted me when I have felt lost and she has encouraged me when I have felt defeated.
On this journey, there will always be people that are quick to offer help but very few will actually follow through. She is by far one of the very few, not just in this situation but in this life, that will go above and beyond for her family and that has never been more clear to me than now.
She said something to me today that brought me to tears. She said "Kim you are by far one of the sweetest most compassionate people I have ever known. Your husband does have an angel. Family is not always what we want. Sometimes choosing our family is better." She couldn't be more right.
We both have a family member incarcerated in a Texas prison and while that common thread is what initially brought us together, it is her unselfish way and her heart as big as Texas that will keep us connected and will always make her family to me.
So, to auntie Janet thank you from the bottom of my heart.