Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How Facebook has changed the process of birth and death...

Pre-cancer, I was never one to shy away from death. I wouldn't necessarily say I was morbid, but I wasn't afraid either, at least not of the concept. In another life, I think I would have loved to be some sort of forensic scientist, among many other things. I went to my first funeral when I was four, when my great Pop-Pop, whom I loved dearly, died at 92. Then again the next year when my nana died, and so on and so forth. Needless to say, I've been to many funerals over the years and am quite shocked that there seem to be many people like my husband who had been to only one funeral in his entire life before my uncle's 9 years ago. I've taken care of some severely sick people, and watched a few people close to transitioning.


The beginning of this post has been sitting for months. I've come back to it often but just haven't been able to attempt it. But now it seems more appropriate then ever because of the juxtaposition of the last few days.

Last night my sister-in-law posted that my niece was in labor. I woke up this morning to pictures of a beautiful healthy new baby. This is, as most would agree I'm sure, pretty much the norm these days. What you used to hear on the phone after the fact, maybe even passed through a telephone tree or god forbid, in person, is now transported in a matter of seconds with shares and likes and comments. And who doesn't want to see a new baby, know that everything went fine?

But I also woke up to a horrible, heart-wrenching post.

I have a good fb friend, one of the girls in my group. We are the same age (ok, she would emphasize that she's a year younger), we were diagnosed around the same time, same stage, same surgery, almost same treatment plan...same same same. Same smart-assedness. We would often message each other, check in on each other, commiserate and snarkily comment on the bounty of stupidity in the world...her cancer was slightly different and made a reappearance shortly after she was done with radiation, around the same time I was. We got burned together, across country from each other. She started back up on a different chemo, and get this - didn't tell her mother or her boyfriend because she didn't want to upset them. So she's been on chemo for the past year now and we were chatting the day she got her scan results back...everything was clear. Sooo happy. A couple days later I realized I hadn't heard from her and started messaging her. This went on until I asked a fellow group member if she had heard from her - she had not. After some digging we discovered she was in the hospital "having many tests done but would get back to us soon". This week we found out that she had a stroke and had mets to her spinal fluid. The doctors had given her a year. I was devastated. We kept it quiet, from our group, because we knew that's what she was requesting. Early last week, my husband found out the guy he has golfed with every week for the past 7 years or so has terminal kidney cancer. Then Robin Williams died, which was a communal sadness. Then I found out about my friend. Last week was not good.

As I said, I was devastated, and was planning something Halloween themed to send her, as we both also share a strong love of the holiday. This morning, after seeing the new baby, I saw this post - " in the hospital in critical condition, unresponsive, intubated, seizure activity..." I'm angry. I'm angry and sad and heartbroken. Some of her friends started a private fb page tonight so people could finally be updated on what's going on, for all intents and purposes it is a virtual waiting room, and 21st century parlour. But instead of what used to be immediate family, or close (at least in proximity) neighbors and friends, everyone who has an internet connection can "watch" someone pass. This is not the first time, I've seen it often. I've seen people, even spouses, give status updates of those dying.  I have been, at least tangentially, privy to the passing of people I don't even know. I still am unsure how I feel about this, it's something difficult to process.  I do know that I am sad. I know that I will pray, which she probably would not appreciate. I know that I will "watch", from 3000 miles away, a friend pass way way too soon. I know that no matter how technology has changed the way in which we receive or share information, it will in no way change the feeling of joy at seeing a new life or feeling of your heart breaking.  

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