A few years ago when I was pregnant with Matthew and thousands of miles from home, I realized I had no real community around me. Aside from the occasional chat with a neighbour and a few work colleagues, I had no friends in the city. I decided something had to change.
I needed people.
With a little effort I was lucky enough to meet a group of women at just the right time - all of us pregnant with our first children. We quickly became close friends, meeting every week with our new babies and our under-eye bags and our stories.
Seriously, God knows what I would have done without them these past few years.
I've never been good at asking for things. I'm still not. I like to project an I-don't-need-any-help-I-can-do-it-on-my-own-thank-you-very-much image. It wasn't until I was forced to admit I needed help that I finally did.
Even then, I was all... no no I'll be okay, I can still drive across the city, pick up groceries and make dinner for everyone despite not having slept for two weeks...
Then someone smacked me upside the head and said Sarah, guess what? You're not Superwoman!
When I gave birth to Oliver 19 months later, having a community around me became even more important. I needed people even more this time. I needed favours. I needed friends to talk to on the phone when I was having a really bad day. I couldn't do it alone.
Despite my natural desire to be self-reliant, I gave in to needing people, to needing a community. And when I needed them, they were there, dropping off dinners, bringing coffee, watching the kids so I could nap, helping me out in whatever way they could.
I was overwhelmed by their kindness. And it changed me.
I realized that being this independent, disconnected person wasn't as great as I'd imagined.
Then earlier this year I stumbled into another community - the blogging community. If I'd known there were so many great connections and friends to be made I would have been here years ago.
(Only problem with the blogging friends I've made is, they live too bloody far away from me! One day, with luck, I'll meet some of you for a coffee or a martini.)
Last week I witnessed scores of bloggers pull together for Anissa Mayhew. I've never met Anissa, but over the last week I've come to know her through all of the wonderful posts, tweets and messages people have written about her.
Isn't it amazing? I don't know Anissa, and it doesn't matter. Technology has allowed me to sit at home in my pajamas and think about some small way I might be able to help her family - even if it's just a prayer to start with.
Friends of Anissa, and people that don't even know her, are coming together to help, because that's what communities do.
If this year has taught me one thing, it's that community is so, so important. Because people need people. And because there's nothing like the feeling of being able to help someone else when they need it most. And because if I can pass on this lesson to my kids, then they too will grow up being part of something good.