I had the strangest experience yesterday.
I sat down with my cup of coffee, The Meaning of Life, and opened FaceBook. There were the usual updates from friends, and then I glanced in the corner where birthdays are listed.
Gail. I smiled just seeing her name. This was a woman I have never met face to face, but had shared many thoughts and stories with through online communities. I have known her for probably ten years. She grew up in Santa Barbara, where I went to college, so we had connected through the experience of that town. Seeing her name listed under birthdays sparked my thoughts that I had not talked to her, or emailed, in quite some time. I always enjoyed our interactions.
So, I went to her page to wish her a happy birthday.
That is how I found out that Gail passed away in November of pulmonary embolism on her son’s 14th birthday.
It was surreal. I read through all the posts on her page. 7 months worth of posts that I had been oblivious to. 8 months of sorrow and sadness over someone I knew fairly well as far as internet connections go.
Then I came to the day she had died. She had a post about needing sheet metal in a game she was playing. She posted that morning a quirky image of suns and stars and moons with this quotation: “Once you have seen this, you have been sprinkled with Peace, Love, & Happiness! Now go forth and sprinkle other people too!”
A post on her page, from her, to her son about his 14th birthday and how proud of him she was.
And then nothing more from Gail.
I had not communicated with her in months, and yet I feel such a deep sorrow and grief and ache to talk to her. I knew her only through the internet, but she blessed me greatly.
And it is all there…all in posts from her friends. All their thoughts and emotions and desires and wishes.
And I thought that Facebook has changed more than we can imagine. We can leave notes on the page of those we loved when they are gone. There is a memorial there of 7 months of thoughts from friends and family. 7 months of mourning.
I also read a post from a friend the other day who had called home on Father’s Day to hear the sound of his father on their voicemail because his Dad has passed away. Others commented about how they called their loved one’s voicemails for a year after they passed, just to hear their voice.
I miss Gail. I am glad that I was able to spend time reading through all those comments yesterday. I wonder at how our social media has changed things. It left me feeling odd, to find out about someone that way. I am left wondering how all these things matter and how we live and move and have our being in Christ in the midst of such a world of images and information. I haven’t sorted it all out yet….I’m still thinking about Gail for the moment….but I know there is much to think on in all of this.