So, before social media, how many people did you have in your life on a daily basis? Social media has come into prominence since I had children, so I’ve never been a SAHM with three kids and all their schedules without social media. I never planned playdates by phone alone. I never have gathered with other parents because I got something in the mailbox. But I can imagine it. And in my imagination, I probably interact with three or four other adults that I’d call friends on any given day. Maybe there would be a classroom activity for one of the kids and I’d see eight or ten other parents that I consider friends. On Sunday, I’d go to church and see more friends. Moving out to the “acquaintance circle,” maybe I’d interact with 15 or 20 on a typical day. Once in a while death would touch our lives. But the last two weeks have been different.
I am immersed in social media. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. That’s a post for another day. I am, and I like it, most of the time. But over the last two weeks I have been struck by the many deaths that have touched my life. Some of them were people close to acquaintances that I only interacted with periodically, but still caused me some measure of sadness. I certainly took a little time to say a prayer, at least. A college acquaintance died. A childhood friend lost her husband suddenly. A high school friend lost a child. Two other friends lost parents, and one a grandparent. A member of our church passed away. All of those deaths in the last two weeks.
I actually started this blog entry last week. I’d been pondering how social media increases my exposure to death and dying all week. It increases my exposure to joyful things, too, and that’s why I stay at it, but the death. So many unrelated deaths in a such short period! Then on Sunday I picked up the tablet and read that a close college friend had died.
I haven’t seen David in almost 20 years. We’d chatted on Facebook over the years, but I wouldn’t say we had a relationship of any kind anymore. But it still felt like a kick in the gut. Here’s a death I would likely have only heard about much later in the days before social media.
Our relationship was so extreme. Aren’t all relationships entered into by 19 year olds extreme? We were young and stupid and passionate. We engaged in emotional gymnastics and drove each other mad. There are some really wonderful memories that would swirl up when we would chat. But there was real ugliness, too. Pain caused by our own youth, stupidity, and passion.
And it wasn’t just us. We drug those around us into our drama, just as we participated in theirs. And we bonded with those others over all that drama, too. Good Lord, college aged kids can cook up some drama. Some of it was thrust on us, some of it we concocted on our own. But all of it was just drama. Heightened emotions that caused the kind of bonding that is much more rare after your mid-twenties or so.
I met my husband at 27. I was still pretty young, and certainly still stupid. And with him definitely still passionate, but not in the reckless way I’d been with David. This time was different. Better, yes, but mostly just different. It was a few years before I understood how all that silly drama and “emotional gymnastics” had formed me. They’d made me know for sure what I would accept in a relationship and what I could not tolerate. That relationship taught me how to be a productive half of a team, who demands as well as provides. I’m not here to tell you how a good relationship works, but everything that is right and healthy in my marriage is at least a little bit because of this one goofy, drama-filled relationship of my late teens and early twenties.
I was able to travel to his home state for the funeral this weekend. There was no actual funeral, no service anyway. Just a gathering of friends and family at the funeral home. I stayed with old college friends, I saw more old college friends at the funeral home and over the rest of the weekend. I caught up with some other close friends of David’s who I’d only met briefly many years ago. I hugged his mother, who seemed genuinely glad to see me there when I was surprised that she even remembered me. I mourned an old friend and the fact that I’d never get to really thank him and tie up those few loose threads. It doesn’t matter much. My life is so full and complete, I’ve written often of how much I feel blessed. But it feels wrong that I didn’t really share how grateful I am for having known him.
I had wished him so much happiness. He had a daughter he adored, but I don’t think he ever experienced the kind of peace and happiness that a happy family can bring. A friend who’d known him longer than I, says he was doing well, and it’s even more upsetting that he might have found it someday but never had the chance.
So, I’ll put this out on the internet and hope that’s as wrapped up as I can get it. Maybe I’m “oversharing” again, but that’s who I am, I guess. Goodbye, David.