Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Friends, Calendars and Facebook

Happy birthday, Mare
I used to be very diligent about recording birthdays on my calendar. Every year, I’d get a new datebook and wall calendar, and the first thing I’d do is list birthdays of friends and family. Somehow I got out of that habit.

When I was addressing Christmas cards the other day, I paged through my address book (yes, I still have an actual address book). Every time I turned to a new page, I said to myself “he’s dead” or “she’s dead” or “they’re both dead”. I don’t know about you, but I can’t bring myself to get a new address book. That would mean not putting in names of friends and family who are no longer with us. Stupid, I know, but I guess I like the reminders when I open it up. This year, though, it seemed like there were a lot fewer people getting cards from me.

Facebook has been a great help, for those times I’ve forgotten about someone’s birthday. In “Events”, the birthdays of my Facebook friends are listed. I’m warned a week in advance and the day before. Sometimes I’m ahead of the game, sometimes I have an “oh, shit” reaction to having forgotten.

The day before, I get a reminder that the next day is someone’s birthday. That’s what happened yesterday, when Facebook reminded me that Christmas Eve is Mary Ellen’s birthday. I didn’t need reminding; it’s not the kind of date that anyone’s likely to forget. The problem is that Mary Ellen died in February.

Why did I get the reminder? Because her Facebook page is still here. No one had posted on it since right after her death, but this morning, the page is filling up with birthday wishes. The grief felt by those left behind is obviously still very raw, but the love is stronger.

The holidays are a time of reflection, no matter your religious persuasion. Take a few minutes this week and drag out that address book (or check it on your phone), scroll through your friends list on Facebook. Raise a glass to those who died recently or those who are long gone. And vow to keep their memory alive for another year.

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