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July 2009

Friends Sustain Us

I should be cleaning the fridge... it is long overdue but my mind is too full and I need to free some space.

Until Oprah introduced Facebook, I thought it was something for young people.  The technologically tethered.  Certainly not for my generation.  Certainly not for the woman who rarely remembers to charge her cell and struggles with programming the remote, although I have to say that Verizon and FIOS have made my life so much simpler.

What I have discovered with a very full heart, is that people I cherished forty years ago, as well as the new friends that I know mostly through our children, who are together in Heaven, stop in every now and again to say "hello".  None of us have enough time for lengthy newsy conversations, we have refrigerators to clean, corporations to run, babies to hold, gardens to weed... but knowing that I can open Facebook and know that they are still out there, that they are good and embracing life... makes me happy.

Often, after Shannon's return to Heaven... friends that we had known together disappeared.  It's okay.  Sorrow is heavy and hard to watch.  They didn't know what to say, feared that they would make me sadder, wondered if it was appropriate to visit or mention Shannon's name.  I felt the same way when my dear friend lost her son and another her daughter.  We feel helpless and know that all the love in the world can't make it better.  As hard as I may have tried to keep it tucked inside, I'm not the same person I was when Shannon was here.  I am changed.  I have sad bones.  I pretend they don't show but I know that the people who love me still notice.

Several weeks ago, I got a letter from a young woman struggling with the challenges she is facing.  She asked for words of encouragement.  I wasn't sure that I knew what to say but I sent her some of Shannon's bookmarks.  Today I got another letter from her.  She had given a speech to her community about passion and perseverance and hope.  I am so proud of her.  I may never meet her in person, so many of my closest friends are the ones that I know heart to heart... rather than face to face.  We recognize in one another the spark that flickers in the dark, and that's all it takes.

Then there are the friends that I knew as a child.  The ones who liked me in spite of myself.  The ones who laughed with me when our bangs were too short or blew in the wind, exposing our horrible foreheads.  The ones I cried with when the world seemed bent on breaking our hearts.  The ones I saw in church or McDonald's or at the bus stop.  I'm not sure I knew how special or important they were before I was twenty, but they knew me before Shannon came into my life and through some miracle they have found me once again, a decade after she "left". 

My world is smaller since I retired.  I'm floundering, trying to decide who I am and what I'm supposed to do now.  But it seemed important, more important than the fuzzy cucumber and something that might have once resembled a Trifle but now mysteriously oozes into the realm of "science experiment", to express my gratitude to all of you who give shape and color to my heart.  In those moments when I'm tempted to go gray, to let my thoughts drip momentarily into the "might have beens"... I find you there, on Facebook... smiling and sharing and creating and I just wanted to tell you how much you mean to me.

Keep posting photos and anecdotes and quizzes and day planners and I.Q. tests and political views and travel plans... I've missed you, and you make me smile.