By Tobi Schwartz-Cassell
Lately, the first place I hear of a celebrity passing is Facebook. It’s not that I don’t keep up with the news. It’s just that so many of us hangout on Facebook that when one FB friend finds out, he or she posts it and the news takes off like wildfire. I have one really good friend who we’ve dubbed “Mr. Memoriam.” It’s kind of comical at this point, because somehow he’s always the first to post a celeb death. It also takes a bit of the edge off the sad news.
Facebook is especially good for wishing happy birthday to my family and friends. It buys me some extra days when I don’t get the greeting cards out on time.
I also get a kick out of wishing a happy birthday to the Facebook friends I’ve never met. I’m sure you have some of them, too. Gail is one of those friends for me.
Gail and I were introduced by a mutual friend because I needed to hire someone for a project and she seemed like a good candidate. Though we never met in person, she and I spoke a number of times, trying to figure out if we were a good fit for each other. It turned out that my needs and hers didn’t quite match up, so we called it a day, but remained friends on Facebook because we both always enjoyed our conversations. It’s fun keeping tabs on people. Not stalker-like fun. Just…you know…fun.
It was Gail’s birthday the other day, so of course I wanted to wish her a happy and a healthy. As I was writing to her, it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen any posts from her in a while. It crossed my mind that maybe she was under the weather. So I scrolled down on her page a bit to see what was up. My heart sank. Gail had passed away. I read farther down and saw that she had fallen on some tough financial times and consequently sunken into a depression. I contacted the mutual friend who’d brought us together, and she confirmed my worst fear. Gail had taken her own life.
I’m still feeling so sad about Gail’s death. What could I have done to help her? What could anyone have done?
Then I started to think about my friends who’ve passed away since they and I have connected or re-connected on Facebook. Some I had the honor of working with, some I had the pleasure of having lunch with. Others, I’ve never met. I have never un-friended any of them since their passing. It’s my nondescript but heartfelt memorial to each one of them.
…Gayle, who was a friend from my college days, who died tragically about five years ago.
…Peg, the amazing graphic designer I’d done work with when I started my freelance writing career.
…Marilyn, a revered author from California who used to write articles for me for Girlfriendz Magazine.
…Shaun, who inspired countless women—including me—while living here on the East Coast, and then after her move out west. Shortly after she got there, she was diagnosed with cancer. She passed less than a year later. Though no longer with us here on earth, Shaun continues to inspire many, including me.
And then there’s Gail.
Thank you to each and every one of you for inspiring me and enhancing my life. I hope I brought you one-half the happiness and joy that you’ve brought to me.
And now I have to go. The Facebook life cycle has circled around to a happy occasion. There’s someone very special to me whose birthday is today, and though I’ve already had the pleasure of wishing her a happy and a healthy verbally, it’s just not official until it’s appeared on Facebook.
With lots of ♥,