Passing

In the past few weeks four friends passed away. One a life partner, one a professional associate, one a high school turned lifelong friend, one a neighbour. COVID, heart attack, advanced age, suicide. With each one I wanted to phone Diane. She would cry with me, complain with me, worry with me. We’d wonder. Why him? Who next? When us? 

But Diane’s gone now as well and I have no one to call. For almost fifty years she was the one I phoned, that is, if she didn’t call me first.

I have a bearing missing. Diane kept my wheels connected to the axle. She was the part that kept the ride smooth when the road got bumpy.

This is the time of life we always talked about—the time when we lose our people. We talked about how important it was that we had each other.

It’s quiet here. The wind has settled. I’ve lit the candles. Their steady flames reach up. It will be light soon. I’m left wondering and thinking that in a way she’s still with me.

I Love Facebook

Mask by Debra Bell

I love Facebook. It’s not a confession that comes easily. I try to be smart, savvy and somewhat sophisticated (I have real trouble with that one) and loving Facebook doesn’t fit the profile. I know the issues. I’ve read the same articles about the evils of social media as you. And I’m not someone who generally feels strong fuzzy affection for mega manipulative corporations. Besides that I’ve got my own problems with Facebook. Mostly I resent the time I spend on it. Facebook is the worst enabler of my procrastinator self.

But I still love Facebook. If it weren’t for Facebook I would not have gotten a surprise package in the mail from Debra Bell with a message—“a gift for you”. Two beautiful green masks. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Debra. In this COVID world I am learning to feel love in the strangest ways and for people I hardly know. I’ve been acquainted with Debra for years and we’ve met in person at craft fairs once or twice. But Debra is a dear Facebook friend. I know her stories, her industriousness, her joys and her pain. I “see” her more than I ever saw my friends before Facebook. She is a new kind of friend and one that I cherish.

If it weren’t for Facebook I wouldn’t know an amazing man from the north who is sharing his journey through dementia. Can you imagine such generosity? I get to have intense conversations with committed NDPers who hate my politics but value good arguments. I am aging with friends from Nova Scotia, Ontario, New Zealand and the United States. Through photos I watch the subtle changes in their skin, their eyes, their hair as they gracefully move through time. And then there’s Bernie. Without Facebook I would never have a random friend named Bernie who lives in London and posts the most British angle on everything.

The other day one of my students wrote in her assignment on stress “the best stress reliever is laughter”. On Facebook I have found a new reason to laugh out loud. I particularly love the twisted, slightly raunchy stuff that comes from my dear niece Angel. Maybe it’s northern Chetwynd humour but I love it.

I am even learning to appreciate the annoyingly negative conspiracy theorists who can’t say a positive word about anything. How else would I have the privilege of getting inside those minds? And when they get repetitive I do have the free will to move on (I’ve always thought conspiracy theorists need to think more about free will).

The western world has had a dictate…don’t talk to strangers about politics and religion. That has never worked for me. Now, on Facebook, I get to reunite with people I went to Sunday School with and others from the same church whom I’ve never met. We all have similar unresolved issues in our post-fundamentalist lives and we get to talk about them, freely, across the globe. Who would have thought?

So, for now, for a million reasons, I am just going to unapologetically love Facebook. In a few years or months, or maybe even days I may feel differently. But one thing won’t change. I’ve got friends. Good friends. And I have never felt such love and appreciation for so many people from so many places before. For that I thank you all.