She died while I was driving to the hospital (an hour and-a-half away from where I lived). My parents didn’t tell me…they were waiting for me to arrive. They didn’t realize, though, how quickly it would spread when they decided to let others know. My dad sent one text to about five people when I was still around 45 minutes away. On the drive, I got a text from my cousin: “I don’t know what to say, other than I love you.” And, I knew that it had happened, that my sister was gone. I pushed it away, though. Told myself that I didn’t really know. Told myself to wait until I got to the hospital. My parents had hoped to tell me when I arrived. Instead, I was implicitly told through a text. Neither of my parents have embraced the technology take-over. I can’t really blame them for not understanding that the minute you send a piece of information out into the mysterious realm of wireless connectivity and 3G networks that you have thereby forfeited all rights to said information. It is now owned by the masses – do what they will. And do what they will – is exactly what they did.
Because it didn’t stop with this one text. That isn’t the end to the technology sucks story. It even invaded her hospital room. This most private and intimate of spaces – where the initial reactions of a family are taking place – where we’re hugging her, talking to her, breaking down…technology invaded Room 257.
This one text got sent out…and within a couple of hours – our phones started to ring. We were in the hospital room, mourning the loss of my sister…and it occurred to me that something much worse was about to happen….and I said: “Oh god…Facebook.”
We realized that someone was bound to post on her page and that we had lost control. It was awful – in a powerless situation, to realize that there was even something else you could lose…something so personal was about to be posted publicly. I realized that my close friends – friends that grew up with my family, friends that I wanted to tell in a private phone call – were now going to find out through Facebook. Our family members were going to find out through Facebook. So, we did the only thing we could to gain any power back and decided we would post on her page.
Do you understand the insanity of this? We are in the room with her body discussing how to handle FACEBOOK!? And, guess what? When I posted our message on her wall – I was four seconds behind someone else. We didn’t even end up being first. And the GALL of the person who posted that…………I know. I know. They probably didn’t realize how recent it had happened or…whatever…makes me so mad.
And to all those people that I had wanted to tell individually, I sent them a mass text, thinking that was a little better than being shocked with the news on her wall. Because, it was shocking. My sister was in the hospital so frequently that we didn’t always spread the word (my parents didn’t always even tell me). Some people knew, but a lot more didn’t have a clue she had been in the hospital at all, let alone that it was so serious!!!
I might have some pent up anger about this…just a little…
So, yes, right around the time of my sister’s death – technology and all it entails was a definite “for worse”….but almost 8 months out…I also see the “for better”.
Over 300 people came to my sister’s funeral, despite the fact that we had it four days after she died. I’m not sure that we could have spread the word so quickly without Facebook. On the other hand, I don’t use Facebook like I used to… I don’t post status updates. I definitely don’t whine about my day. …after using it to let the world know about my sister…I just can’t get back to posting about working out at the gym… Facebook isn’t fun like it used to be.
Crap…this was supposed to be the “for better” part…let me try this again…
Voicemail… I have two messages from my sister. They aren’t particularly special in what they say…but good grief…to hear her voice! There is nothing that can touch my soul like listening to her voice. Thank you, Voicemail.
Text messages… I have a couple years of texts – mainly about Grey’s Anatomy or how we’ll try not to fight next time we see each other. Again, not crazy interesting, but so incredibly precious to me that I have them backed up in a kazillion places. Thank you, Text Messaging.
Facebook… People use her page now to say that they miss her and are thinking of her. It’s a little memorial page for her and it’s nice to read. But, really, it’s nice to go back and look at what we wrote to each other or to see her comments on pictures or posts that I made. …thankyoufacebook…
Etsy… This is an unexpected one for sure, but Etsy lets you follow people and you can see what their favorite items are. When I realized this, I immediately looked through all of my sister’s favorite items. Today, I decided to buy one of them. The ring at the top of this page. I feel a little silly. I’m not entirely sure why I did it….just trying to find a way to be connected to a non-existent person. Makes complete sense. Her favorite color was black and she had become obsessed with filigree rings before she died… I’m guessing she didn’t buy this one, because her fingers were ginormous. But, it’s my size. And now it’s my ring. Thank you, Etsy.
Look at me, trying to see the positive in something I despise.