Recently, I was reminded of a blog post written by Peter Shankman, the founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO). He was encouraging readers to reach out to the people who are on our friends list on Facebook. Of course, he acknowledged that we can’t take up our day to connect with Every Single Person on our friends list, but just to choose so many of them and post on their wall, or something. Connect. Say hi. Reach out to people. They’re on that friends list for a reason!
I was reminded of this piece of good advice last week because I received some sad news: An old friend of mine had died. I was shocked and saddened to hear about this. I’d met this young man in my late teens and I always considered him to be a good friend. We lost touch, though, after we all grew up and created lives for ourselves. However, I did have the good fortune of connecting with him again on Facebook. I said “hi” to him every once in a while, but I never really bridged that communication gap. I never really “connected” with him as much as I should have.
And this is what got to me the most. I was sad my friend was gone, yes, but I was angry at myself for not really CONNECTING with him through Facebook, as I should have. All those opportunities I had to post on his wall and just say “howdy!” or something, and they just passed me by. And I hate it that the last time I DID make time to post on his wall was to leave a message to remember him by after he was gone. (I had tears in my eyes when I read another friend’s message she left on his wall.)
Of course I am sad my friend is gone, but angry at myself for not REALLY reaching out to connect with him. Gradually, though, I wasn’t so much angry anymore, but a little wiser. This was a lesson to me that from now on, I SHOULD connect with people who are important to me. I need to catch up with people. Facebook gives old friends the chance to reconnect, and we should take that opportunity to ACTUALLY reconnect. Communicate with each other and get to know each other all over again.
Later in the week, I was saddened once again to learn that one of my uncles had passed away, as well. That was two deaths in one week, and that was just too much. I told one of my sisters this sad news that evening, and she was shocked and upset to learn about our uncle. He was a very dear man who we have fond memories of. I hated to have to tell my sister this news through text, but text conversations are like phone calls for the deaf and it was the next best thing. (She lives in another state, so it wasn’t like I could walk on over to her house. Though I sure wish I had that ability to walk over to a sister’s house to visit!)
Unlike my friend, my uncle did not have a Facebook account, but my aunt did. Again, I occasionally said “hi” on her page, but I didn’t constantly reach out to communicate with her.
But even still, Facebook is not the only way to connect with people. There’s good old fashioned snail mail, too. I could’ve written a letter to my uncle or sent him a card to let him know we were thinking of him, but I never did.
This time, I was not as mad at myself as before for neglecting to reconnect with him. I was more AWARE of the fact that I should have. A card here or there would have been nice, maybe even a day-brightener.
So the lesson here was that, through snail mail or Facebook, even through phone calls, I really SHOULD reconnect with people and bridge those communication gaps. Take the time to get caught up with old friends and actually communicate with the people who are close to my heart. Because who knows how much more time they will have to be around?
Rest in peace, Mackie. And rest in peace, Uncle Floyd. I'm sorry I never took the time to reconnect with you as much as I should have, but the two of you were never far from my thoughts. You will both be in my heart forever.