Monday, January 30, 2012

A Death Notice on Facebook

John Northage, Jr.
I had something else in mind to share today. But as often happens, the universe had other plans.

I logged onto my Facebook page this morning to see a post that confused me at first. It was a friend's Facebook page announcing his death. For a brief moment, I thought it must not be him. It must've been his father who died. But when I saw his son's link, announcing that John had died of a heart attack yesterday, I knew it was the worst possible news.

My daughter was 6 months old when I first went to John's wife for acupuncture. We bonded quickly, over our close age and beautiful baby girls born within weeks of each other. John, at that point, was more in the background. A teddy-bear of a man with a gentle way about him, he did the body work on patients, which I didn't need.

Over the past 17 years, both my husband and I had gone to John for treatment: my husband for occasional back pain, and me for extended cranial-sacral therapy after my concussion. John literally held my hand through the ups and downs of my recovery, always honest and supportive. The day he said "you're done" was a day I had despaired of ever seeing. But he was right, I was done with his treatments.

I could have never gotten through the frustrations of my recovery without him. I could never have made progress without his calm attention to my needs. I will be grateful to him for the rest of my life.

As I shared the sad news on Facebook, calling my husband and the friend who had originally referred me to John and Althea, I found myself unable to stop the tears.

The tears came from sadness first, but also from anger. He and his wife had plans that would be forever altered. It wasn't fair. It wasn't right.

The fact that this news came two days after finding out another friend is having heart surgery next week (and has, in fact, had 3 or 4 heart attacks already without realizing it) was a little too much to bear at first.

My husband is fond of saying "we're at that age". But really, what is the age when you should expect your friends to die? What is the age when it doesn't hurt as much?

So now we wait for information about a memorial service, and how the family would like John to be remembered.

For now I'll just remember John as a talented therapist with a big heart and a bigger smile who will be sorely missed.


kathleen pooler said...

Viki, In your shock and grief, you have paid your friend a lovely tribute as well as touch upon something we all have to think about now and then, own own mortality. What a strange experience,though,to read about it on Facebook.

Friend Grief said...

I guess this is an example of how you can write about something (online notifications and tributes) and understand it, but until it happens to really don't get it. I'm glad I found out right away, and not later in the week when I need to go to their business to pick up my supplements. But yes, it was strange.

Rhi said...

My sympathies.

There is no age, I went to three funerals last year, one death I was notified over facebook, which I hated.

Friend Grief said...

Rhi, there are some years when it seems worse than others. It was definitely weird to find out about John's death on Facebook. But I'm grateful I didn't find out much later by accident. Now I feel prepared when I see his wife and kids.

Sharon Lippincott said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I came back from vacation a couple of weeks ago to find a link to a Caring Bridge post from a dear friend announcing that her husband had died the day before I returned. it was not a surprise, and in his case a blessed release from pain, yet ... Oh, how hundreds of us will miss him! With each passing friend, I feel more mortal. And sabor the moments all themore, knowing they are numbered.

Have you written about him for his family?

Joanna Northage-Orr said...

We will all miss him so much. The memorial is Monday, February 6th at the Chicago Waldorf School auditorium from 4:00-8:00pm 1300 w. Loyola ave Chicago, IL 60626

Joanna Northage-Orr said...

We're also sorry about the facebook confusion. We were all in shock and not sure how to announce it.

Friend Grief said...

Joanna - No apologies are needed. We live in a different world now - online - and we're all still struggling to figure out how to use it. Please let your mom know that the Chikows send our sympathies to all of you. Emma and I will see you on Monday.

Joanna Northage-Orr said...

Thanks, I will.

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Friend Grief said...

Juli, I can't believe he's been gone a year. I still walk into their business and expect to see him. And I've gotten more notices like this since then. New world.