Feeling a bit shaky after immersing myself in a social media experience that is leaving tears in my eyes. Was playing around on Facebook, checking out the stream when I came across an update from one of my grade school friends. We had lost touch for years and had recently found each other on FB. Although we attended the same parochial grade school, she went on to the local public high school and I went on to a private all girl’s school in another part of town. She had just posted an album of pictures on Facebook from her senior high school class trip. I recognized many of the faces as I flipped through the pics: kids I went to grade school with; kids I attended church with; kids that were part of my community sports, scouting and youth group activities.
Got to picture #12 and stopped dead in my tracks. Goosebumps formed on my arms and a ghostly, prickly feeling settled around my neck as I gazed upon a face that I never thought I would ever see again. There he was asleep on the bus on the return trip back to their school. The photographer, probably high on Mountain Dew, had stealthily taken lots of up close shots of sleeping seniors, probably in anticipation of posting them to the yearbook (the web was not even a twinkle of a reality at this time). What stopped me in my tracks after seeing this picture is that the young man died shortly after graduation in a tragic motorcycle accident.
Well, the eerie thing is that I have been praying for him for over 20 years. Didn’t know his family and was an acquaintance at best, but for better or worse his death at such a young age struck me deeply. His was the first name on a list of people that I have been steadily praying for over the years. To see his picture (when even the memory of his face had been a distant blur) was just a little too much virtual reality for me. Memories started to flood back as I began to remember where I was when I heard the news of his death and how it affected me at that time.
As teens and young adults, we tend to feel invincible, and when one of our own is taken, our world as we know it becomes shattered. His death led to the beginning of the long prayer chain that I use today. It is filled with the names of those taken too early and I already know that as the years pass, it will only grow longer.
Wondering how others deal with “running into” the dead on the social media highway. The reality is that as we create our footprint and authentic essence on the web, we should make plans for how that presence will be cared for after we pass on. What do you think??