Conversations with the Dead

I got the call late last night.

“Did you hear about Hot Chocolate?”

As my friend relayed the few details he had, I listened, in shock.

I hung up the phone, got up and mixed myself a tall martini. I took it out on the back patio and sat for a bit, listening to the multitudes of critters rummaging around on the hill. I sat for a bit, quietly contemplative.

Dennis was a young man of considerable carriage, a big man with a big smile and a big laugh. I had talked to him plenty of times over the years, and he always told me about conversations he had with his father. His dad was his True North, his compass. He would tell me how his dad would ride him about school and his car and all of those details that comprise a life.

Dennis sent me a message a couple of weeks ago, an invitation to get together. It had been awhile, and I was interested to catch up with him.

This morning I looked at his Facebook. The page is full of friends and family pouring their hearts out, little comments, remembrances, photos, videos…all that love. I posted a little comment, wishing I had hooked up with him as we had planned.

Then I clicked over to John Z’s Facebook. John took his own life in November 2009. I scrolled down and looked at all the comments, remembrances, photos…all that love. I noticed that people are still posting on his wall.

I wrote John a message.

John Scott Hey man, I heard an ad for the Good Guys car show and a picture of you popped right into my head. Nice to see you.

We can imagine those who are gone, and we can pray, and we can talk to them in our small voice, when no one is around, and now we can have a conversation with their online persona; a digital memorial service, a shared experience with all the people who were touched by them. We can keep the conversation going, long after their departure.

Dennis and John Z must be impressed knowing they have all these people who care about them.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my friend (and extended family member) Rick’s death – suicide.

My brother died this month 20 years ago – suicide.

Too much loss.

An earlier chapter in this book was devoted to social media authenticity; I wrote how difficult is to be sad and unfabulous in your status update.

Last night I posted the following; an involuntary , reflexive action, writing exactly what I was feeling:

John Scott My friend died. I’m sad.

There it was – all those comments and prayers; kindness from sweet people…authenticity.

I don’t know for sure how or why Dennis left us; I suspect I’ll find out soon enough. The good news – our conversation can continue, this connection we share with each other and all his people.

My feet feel heavy today, and so does my heart.

Why do people keep disappearing?

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