Sunday, August 9, 2009

My first Facebook death

Regular readers might remember that I posted a note about this weird experience I had with thinking about someone from my distant past (like pre-1974) and then having the experience of that person submitting a friend request over Facebook a couple of days after I thought about him.

We had gotten back in touch, talked about the women we lusted over in high school and how kind or unkind the years had been to them (failing to note, of course, that the years had been unkind to both of us). We had plans to get together whenever I was in the part of Texas he called home, I was assuming that was going to happen in the next year or so. He lived near Houston. "Near Houston" is a part of the world I endeavor to avoid, but I knew I would eventually have to go near enough for some reason, and I would divert to see him.

This morning I saw a Wall post from a mutual Facebook friend that he died on Saturday morning from a heart attack. He's my age, we went to school together and were close friends, sharing the kind of mischief in which teenagers in small town indulge. He was truly more of a brother than a friend, and I regarded his father as one of my many surrogate parents from my youth.

Two things stand out in my mind about this.

1. We are the same age (he is exactly nine months older than I), had the same vices. I could die suddenly of a heart attack any day now just as surely. I may be taking better care of my health than he was, I don't really know, but the possibility exists.

2. This is the first time Facebook has been the conduit for finding out about someone's death. Without this Facebook connection, I would have never found out about this, ever. No one who knows us both has any other way to get in touch with me.

I last saw him in 1976, I think. His messages were warm and familiar--I recognized my childhood friend's unique personality there even after all these years. He was one of the very few people from that time in my life that I regretted having lost touch with.

Weird. Facebook just crossed some threshold for me.