Friday, December 12, 2014

on why I'm now a big fan of facebook

A high school classmate passed away very recently after courageously battling cancer. When he found out that he had reached “stage four” of this awful disease, Dennis reached out on Facebook to a dozen or so of his childhood companions and together, this group bonded, supported, listened and held hands (virtually) across all the miles of physical separation. He never posted about his illness on his personal page, keeping it all private and within the group messaging. Tough conversations were had. Dennis kept everyone updated during months of chemo, radiation and hospitalizations, and was comfortable asking his childhood friends for advice when he was making final plans for himself and for the future of the family he would be leaving behind. He remained upbeat, never complaining but staying in touch, because this was a very real emotional lifeline that he grabbed onto. 

He appreciated this group of friends so much, sending them encouraging messages and sharing his thoughts about what is truly important in life. One such message went like this: 
"Today is a great day for blueberry pancakes! My only wish is that I could share them with all my kind friends. May everyone have a pleasant Wednesday, understanding you all are playing a part in my journey. Anything that comes up today that causes you stress -  wipe it away. It's my gift to you. Things always get better with time. Understand that what is stressful today you may not even remember a year from now. I wish you all a peaceful and relaxing day. Hugs to all!"

This group of pals were in touch with each other through their Facebook group several times a week and daily when the need and desire was there. They cheered Dennis on through his chemo and radiation treatments, all the while sharing. They shared stories, memories, songs, photos from their childhood and hometown, and photos of their current lives. They consoled him when he received word that surgery was no longer an option and when Hospice was called in during his final weeks. They “chatted” on the day that he was moved into the Hospice Home.  Even from his Hospice bed, he messaged back and forth with this amazing support group.

Less than a month before he passed away, Dennis sent this message out to the group: "I feel blessed that I have reconnected with great people like you. I am learning so much from others. If you give people the chance they will amaze you. Every time I receive a ping from FB it's from someone that really cares, like you!"

When he fell silent for a time, the group kept talking, sending messages of good hope and love to him,  in hopes that he was still receiving them. Finally, with no words left, Dennis posted a “thumbs-up” emoticon and was gone. The next message was from his wife, letting the members of the group know that he had passed away and just how much their little group meant to him on this final journey. The messages remain for those left behind, to revisit and remember their friend. "Thinking of everyone today. I love you all, I wish you peace and a day filled with love. I hope your loved ones show you today how much they care."  

As young kids, we never imagined that the internet and this phenomenon called Facebook would be available to us no matter where life led, but what a gift it was to reconnect and be able to stay in touch, across all the miles, and to help a childhood friend when he needed it most. RIP Dennis.  


Tessa~ Here there be musing said...

A touching story...


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend, but so happy that you had that wonderful way to reconnect with him.

Tracy Altieri said...

I am sorry that you have lost your friend. I have told my son that while FaceBook is a means of continuing connection for him and his friends, for my generation it is all about reconnection.

Social media has many downsides, but what a wonderful difference it made to your friend toward the end of his life.