Appreciating friends and loved ones

I found out about my friend’s brain surgery on Facebook today.

What the *BLEEP*!?!

I just happened to be on Facebook after, oh, it’s been a few weeks, and her status update just happened to be the first in my feed. The photo she posted reminded me of those mental institution patients you see in movies, the ones with shaved, scarred heads being wheeled around by a nurse in white labcoat. My friend’s status was vague yet positive, something like “I can now focus on objects.”

The photo was not comforting. My friend is a zombie.

What the *BLEEP*!?!

I called her right then. She answered and asked me how I was doing, calmly, as if she’d never had a headache that turned into emergency surgery. The worst part of it all, she said, was missing her son’s graduation. I don’t know, to me death would have been a worse outcome, and she’d have still missed the graduation. As we talked, I think she comforted me more than the other way around.

Now some of you may have skipped over the whole scary zombie thing and focused on my earlier comment that I hadn’t been on Facebook in weeks. I’m not a Facebook frequent flyer. That’s everyone else’s dumping ground.

Why did I find out about my friend’s life-and-death situation on FACEBOOK?!?

We’ve been friends since college. Road trips, frat parties, New Orleans, Broadway shows, parades and late-night cry fests…we’ve done it. Together. Didn’t I deserve some personal acknowledgement from her or her family members rather than being lumped into this generic blast to all the random people she has Friended over the years?

I was pissed.

Sadly, this is not the first shocking news I received via social media. Last year, if I hadn’t randomly opened Facebook one day, I would not have known that another dear college friend’s father died. What an awkward conversation that would have been at the holidays.

Me: “Hi, how’s your dad doing?”
Friend: “My father died three months ago.”
Me: “Oh.”

When my parents died, I called the Important People in my life to speak to them personally. When I was too choked up with tears, my husband called the rest. Every other friend and family member received an email. The general world wasn’t informed because the general world didn’t need to know. My friends did. You know, my real friends.

I expect the same of my friends, death or near-death. Perhaps I expect too much.

Wait…why hadn’t I talked with her recently to know she was having headaches? Why haven’t I regularly emailed friends who know her and could tell me? Why haven’t I emailed or called my friends recently? Why have I ignored those dear, dear friends in my life?

Now I’m pissed at myself. I’m as much to blame as for not knowing. Ignoring each other is a two-way street of uncommunication.

Why haven’t I reached out? I always–and I mean always–feel pumped after talking to a long-lost friend. I hear their voice, which takes me back to the time when we were together and became friends. If it’s been weeks, months or years, what common interests do we still have? How do we start: “Hi, how’s the weather?” I feel awkward not knowing what I don’t know. That stops me sometimes, and I know the best way to overcome that is to call and call often. Or write letters, send emails…anything personal works.

Why do we push Send/Post/Update/Tweet/Publish/Share and think that’s enough?

We’re far too busy to contact everyone directly, or so we think. Call someone today. Even if you get their voicemail, tell them you were thinking of them and miss them and love/appreciate/care about them. Hug someone. Drag a friend out for coffee or meet them at work for lunch. Going out of your way for a friend is not going out of your way.

I’m making it a point to visit my brain-injured friend soon, and if she’s not well enough for company, I’ll at least call and chat again. That’s long overdue.

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