Saturday, September 15, 2012

On Facebook and Legacy

Earlier this week, I found out that a man I went to school with passed away in his sleep. I have known him since we were in first grade and I hadn't seen him since high school. We passively kept in touch via Facebook--liking one another's photos and commenting on posts every once in a while. About a year ago I posted that we were in the midst of a plumbing nightmare and he dropped everything and graciously walked me through the problem via direct messages.

I always really liked this man--even when we were kids. He had a kind heart and fun spirit. I recall him driving our teachers crazy but he was always so likable I often wondered if the teachers were really that mad at the boy with the toothy smile. 

We didn't have classes together in middle school or high school, and didn't run with the same crowd. The last time I remember talking to him, he came in to the high school yearbook classroom and asked us for a favor. We had almost wrapped up the yearbook, and he really wanted a photo of he and his girlfriend published in the yearbook. He loved her so much but since she didn't go to our school, so she wasn't in the book. He had a picture of him hugging her that he was hoping we could slip in somewhere in the book. Normally, we would have said no to such a request, but his words were so heartfelt and sincere, we did it. 

That's the last time I remember talking to him in person but it was an instance that impacted me. His heart was so big and so full that he wanted to embrace his love for this woman in our yearbook. He didn't want the pictures in there to be "noticed"; he just wanted to have a way to memorialize his relationship and feelings at the time.  His request was so sweet, sincere and special--a true reflection of his character.

I found out this man died about a week after the fact, and I've had a few days to digest the information. This is the first person I know of from my graduating class to pass away and it's been kind of hard for me to process. Tonight I went back and read through his Facebook page. I was re-reading his posts, his conversations with others and looking at the photos of his beautiful daughters who will now grow up with out a dad. I wonder how many other people have been reading over his page too--looking for clues that he knew life wasn't forever, affirming the love for his family and showing that warm heart that struck me in the yearbook classroom almost 20 years ago. It's almost surreal to read his words and conversations because they are living on like he is still here.

As I read through his page, I began to reflect on my social media legacy. What would people read on my page if something happened to me? I clicked over to my page to see what was on it and quite frankly, I wasn't impressed. While I don't think I need to necessarily put my entire life into my social media networks, perhaps I should do a little more to show who I am and what makes me tick instead of just publishing pictures and self-depricating anecdotes. Maybe a public medium isn't such a bad place to express my gratitude for others and to note the blessings in my life. An authentic me may just be a little more interesting and a lot more meaningful to the people in my life.

And then I think back to the day in the yearbook room 20 years ago. The man who is no longer with us...all he wanted was his authentic self in the yearbook with a photo showing how in love he was with the girl in the photo. Apparently he knew the importance of being authentic all along.

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