I've always had a love/hate relationship with it, frankly, and now that I'm in my thirties, it's more hate than anything else. Facebook, for me, is an idiot-proof portal to the lives of lots of folks I don't get to see enough anymore, so I stick to that.
And it was because of Facebook that I learned last week that a long-time friend died in a hit-and-run.
Kerri was a year older than me, but it seems that our social circles - as much as you can call them that in elementary school - always intertwined. She grew up in my neighborhood, though she went to a different elementary school. We were in Girl Scouts together. In junior high, we sang in chorus (and where I come from, this was big - we competed nationally and internationally and won medals!) In high school, field hockey bonded and kept us in each other's company. And later, after college and years had passed, it was social media that brought her back into my life, if only virtually.
Even though she was only a year older than I (and by the calendar, only about nine months separated us), she always had this quiet, mothering way about her. Maybe she saw I needed the gentle guidance when we were younger. Maybe she was like that with a lot of us. She was probably just naturally nurturing, and so it leaked from every pore. She was always smiling, and her dimples only magnified the gesture. I know a lot of people always say this when someone they love has passed, but Kerri really was a ray of good ol' sunshine.
Though I can't claim we were BFFs or even particularly close, her sudden death hit me like the worst gut sucker-punch. I've lost other school friends - good people who were most definitely taken from this earth before their work was done - but Kerri's death, for some reason, felt different. It took me a few days to realize why:
Death had not changed. It is still a whisper in everyday life and a scream within us. It is one of the few things that, in this day of instant gratification and hurry-hurry-go-go, still has the power to stop us in our tracks, to silence us.
But I had changed. And so had Kerri. Gone were the carefree days of school; gone were the childish fears of life in a bubble. We were grown, with spouses and children and knowledge.
Kerri left behind a husband who now has to figure out how to get up every morning and re-learn living without her. She left behind a young daughter who can't possibly yet grasp what it means. Kerri left behind a richness, a fullness of life that can only come from time, maturity and the things we didn't possess when we were younger.
So when I look at my own family, and I ponder the weight of life and death and the gravity of each moment of every day, I know this one's different - to me.
I'm thankful that I found Kerri again, and that we could stay connected by discussing the mundane and ridiculous. And though there are a lot of things I detest about social media, I'm grateful that, for better or worse, it led me back home. Home to my memories and my roots, and to what's really important.
For those of you wondering, that's me at the left looking like a lemon, and Kerri is smack in the middle wearing the white tee and jeans.