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What’s In A Life

My grandmother passed away today at the age of ninety-six. She had been ill for the past six months and our family has been blessed to have the time to spend with her and to show her how much we loved her. As hard as it is to lose someone that I love so much, I feel blessed to have had her in my life for as long as I did. I also know that she has joined my grandfather, the love of her life, and they are together once more.

Saying goodbye to my grandmother has made me think a lot about life. So many of us are so caught up in the day-to-day grind that we forget how truly short our time on earth really is. How many of us step outside ourselves and really think about the person we are or the person we want to be? Do we strive to be present in the moment or do we spend most of our time chasing the mighty dollar? Too many days are filled by rushing from task to task without stopping to enjoy living. It makes me stop and think…our we leaving legacies that we could be proud of?

I hope that I am someone, like my grandmother, who has given more than she has taken. A person who has tried their best to help others, even when it has come with sacrifices. I want to be the type of person that people mourn the loss of and not someone who walked this earth with hate in my heart.

I’ve always said that it isn’t the objects you own or the money you have that people will remember you for when you’re gone, it is the memories and, ultimately, the love that you leave behind. That is truly what’s in a life.

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The Lost Child

Sometimes I sit and ponder how my life would have been without the rough beginnings. How it would have been to be a child who lived in a house without a father who came home drunk or a mother who didn’t die of cancer at such a young age. I sit and think about all the times that the police came to our house, the times that I brought my mother tissues as she sobbed, hiding between the wall and the bookcase as fighting filled the air. I got good at becoming invisible because that is what I truly wanted to be. I would go to school with children who had loving, stable homes and I would wonder if they were ever scared to shut their eyes at night like I was.

Living in such a volatile environment made me grow up fast, too fast. When other children were playing without a care in the world, I was monitoring what type of mood my father and mother were in and whether or not I needed to hide. When those children were thinking about going to dances, I was preparing insulin injections for my mother as she lie dying. As my classmates were going on dates I was trying to stay alive in the foster care system.

Where did my carefree childhood days go? Why did I never get to experience that normal life? I used to think that I must have somehow deserved to be given the hand that I was dealt, but I never could figure out why. I tried to be a good child, make everything alright and yet things never changed. I graduated high school with those children that I envied so much and as they were fleshed faced and ready to begin an exciting new chapter in their lives I felt as though I had already been alive for a thousand years. They hoped to get into a great college and I just hoped that I could make a good life for myself. One that was stable and without abuse. I felt so old.

The scars of my childhood and all the abuse are still present sometimes no matter how hard I try to put them aside. It is like they are engraved on the inside of me, lurking just under the surface, waiting for a quiet night so that they can haunt my dreams. I mourn for the list child who never really got a childhood. I try to be thankful that I learned courage and a strength that can handle any troubled times, but I still long to have been one of the little girls with the light of happiness in their eyes.

The Role of Social Media After Death

This world is filled with tweets, posts, snapchats and the like. Information is being generated every second of every day. Through this social media, we have found our portals through space and time. We are now able to keep in touch with people that we may not have seen since grade school, as well as, the people we see every day. There are negatives to this, of course, like when a passive aggressive friend decides to rant online or when it is too easy to unfriend someone and hurt them. But it dawned on me today, as I went to a dear friend’s page, that social media, for all of its obvious positives and negatives has created something wonderful. Not only do we have a medium for expressing feelings, sharing stories, and photos, but we have a way to remain connected to loved ones who have passed. In essence, social media provides a manifestation of our lives.

I lost my best friend this past September. She died due to a brain aneurism at the age of forty, only seconds after I left her at our children’s school. I was devastated by the loss. She was someone that I talked to daily and our lives and friendship were intermingled online. I was suddenly faced with the heart wrenching knowledge that I would never again hear her voice and I was a soul lost like no other. She was my confident, keeper of all my secrets and my biggest support. I wanted, no needed, to reach out to her, to feel her near. So I went on her Facebook page. I wrote a post to her telling her how much I missed her and loved her. Before I knew it, I had written a lengthy message expressing all of my feelings. When I had exhausted all I needed to say to her and wiped the tears from my cheeks, I posted it to her wall.

I then went under her pictures and looked at all the great times we had shared. Soon, I was engulfed in the remembrance of our daughter’s first chorus performance, this fall’s cheerleading, nights spent over cribbage and drinks. Our lives, no, more importantly, her life was once again outstretched before my eyes and I no longer felt alone. She was with me once again, in my heart and on the screen. What a gift! I created an online album filled with those tagged photos and uploaded it to my Facebook wall.

During the next few days, I was thanked by several of her family members and friends who stated that they had copied photos of her from my page so that they could repost them, express their grief or to honor her. Social media had given us all something tangible. A place to express our grief, our love and to keep her memory alive.

It has been months since her passing, but I still find myself posting messages to her wall. It may sound silly, but I feel that it places all my mental talks with her into a solid reality. I talk to her all the time, but seeing my words on her page and seeing the pictures she once posted and the words she once wrote help to heal my broken heart.

It’s the little things that we do through social media, the posts, the photos…things that seem mundane or trivial at the time…those are what become our legacy. Social media holds them in an eternal state of solidity so that friends and family can visit our online presence, even after we are long departed from this world.

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