Every now and then I scroll through the profiles of the people Facebook thinks I ought to know. Be it through mutual friends or employment or school or events…our personal profiles provide all sorts of juicy data for social media engines to search and analyze. Part of me feels violated by this scrutiny but another part of me secretly hopes to connect with an old friend or a distant long-lost relative. So I engage in this ever churning game of cyber hide and seek. It’s a virtual hunt for something we all treasure. Relationships and meaningful connections with those familiar faces who knew us once upon a time.
This evening I found myself flipping through the latest offering of happy faces, pet portraits, silly selfies and artistic still life’s. We’re a creative species and some of us put a lot of effort into creating profile pictures that represent our true nature. Or at least how we’d like to be seen by the world.
And then I happened upon a photograph of a silly big beaked yard ornament bird looking at what appeared to be the first buds of spring sprouting from a barren spot in a flower bed. And her name. It was one I knew well. One of my very best friends from high school. And yes, she had posted the perfect profile picture. It was totally HER!
In fact I had connected with her last fall when our 40th reunion was being planned. Unable to attend I promised myself a trip home in the next year so we could connect face to face. I never knew she had a social media account, which explained why she showed up on my “you should be friends” list. But a quick jump to her page revealed that the posts ended late the following spring. Of course I already knew why. My dear friend, who I never got back home to see, had passed away.
And yet here she was. Her profile had continued to live on in cyberspace. I was tempted to “friend” her. It was comforting to think that it might be possible to connect with her one last time. And sad to realize that my friend request would ultimately not be accepted. Though I am certain if things were different she would friend me back. We were tight like that.
I have other friends on my account who were my social media friends before they passed from this life to the next. I like to check in on them. Others visit them too. I know because they post little messages. The chatter always escalates around anniversaries, birthdays and holidays. It’s a bizarre practice, but one that seems to bring comfort and healing to those, like me who cannot bear the thought of “unfriending” our loved one. Not yet. Social media is magical place where eternity is real.
I miss my friend and am saddened even more that time robbed us of a chance for one last hug and to lose ourselves in one of our epic giggle-fests. To see that familiar sparkle in her eyes. When sorrow gets the best of me I know that I can always find her here. A snapshot in time. A profile pic that captured the essence of a life fully lived. Her essence. And I will probably linger a while. And smile softly, enfolded by memories. The very best visits among friends after all, are spent in silent knowing where words are optional.
Kat~ June 2015 (photo credit~MLC 1956-2015)