I just found out, via Facebook of all places, that my friend Jodie, whom I had not been in touch with for about a year, died of breast cancer about six months ago.
It was a shocking way to learn such a thing. I was prompted by an envelope icon next to her name to “Send her a message.” I went to her “Wall” and found her Facebook page had turned into a memorial site, with literally hundreds of well wishes and remembrances. It was incredibly sad, and instantly sobering.
I realized that my friend who was only 35 years old was gone, never for me to ever again share a past experience with or to get her opinion on something or to ask for her advice.
I scrolled through her old posts to learn that her twin brother had shared the news of her passing with her friends on Facebook. Her mother had also taken over the page to respond in kindness to well wishers.
It made me think of many things. I thought of my friend and old times. Her visits to me in LA where she ambitiously dived right in to find temp work while she considered a move to the city; our ill-timed visit to DC when the infamous sniper was on the loose and we didn’t want to stop for gas or get out of the car; her creative mind when it came to everything from marketing slogans to setting a dinner table with a theme just for fun; and her abundant knowledge of pop culture, including music from my era (I was born 10 years before her) that I didn’t even remember!
She was someone who was a brilliant flame in my life for a short time, and then she and I both moved on to other ventures, friends and locales.
I always figured I could pick up with her wherever we left off in our friendship, and that would go on indefinitely. But now that’s not possible. She is gone and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I looked for her last posts on her Facebook page and read her witty, intelligent, philosophical and pithy comments during her last weeks. She never lost her sense of humor or perspective.
I noticed the sheer number of friends who sent message to her after her death on Facebook. It was a modern wailing wall. A new way for loved ones from near or far to share their feelings of loss with each other and to express them to her post mortem.
The death of a friend always makes one consider their own mortality, and I am wondering how many people would be posting messages to my Facebook page. How many people’s lives have I really made a difference in? What’s more, with the time I have left — however long that might be, nobody knows — what can I do to touch more lives in a meaningful way?