guilt

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Well, I’ve done it. News of another death – not a near-and-dear (in case you are also a near-and-dear and suddenly worried) – so to avoid those horrible status “updates” when someone posts on the not-yet-decommissioned wall or comments on another post and I see his profile picture and forget he’s dead, and then I remember, I have “unfriended” him. I feel wretched, disloyal, it reminds me in a backward way of when Mom’s Alzheimers allowed me to tell her the same good news every half-hour or so, and to watch newfound joy blossom on her face. I felt guilty then, too, but she had so little joy in those years that it felt like a blessing even as I pretended I hadn’t told her before. Even as I lied. It was like picking at the healed parts of a scab, irresistible. To allay the guilt, I prefaced with, “Oh, did I tell you” and she always said no, and it was true, whatever part of her brain was functioning at the last telling wasn’t the one on which she now precariously perched. Was I a liar? We say lines 8 shows a week, for psychic and emotional affect. And I gave her joy.

My best friend, who died in 1994 of AIDS, was not a joiner, he wasn’t political, he didn’t much like groups of people unless they were dancing hard with him to too-loud music. But he marched in the NYC Pride Parade every year because he could, to exercise a freedom, was that a lie, too?

This aspect of social media is too social for me. I’ll remember the recently deceased in my own time, in my own way, and share those thoughts and feelings with his bereaved when appropriate.

Clichés are such because they are true, so true as to be universal, frowned upon especially by poets (the largest number of folks with whom I’m hanging at the moment), but I will employ one anyway: Hug your loved ones. Don’t merely tell them you care, hug them. Touch them. Get out of this virtual space and roll around with your dog or cat or child or friend or partner or parent – okay, maybe your parent is too old or frail to romp – but do something physical in real time, in contiguous space, do something visceral with those you love, and those who love you even if you only like them. Hug people, touch people because you can. Because this amazing energy we all type into, the sense of community we find here can only go so far. Go farther. Use your body because you can. Use it to express and share love. Because you can.

I think I’ll release the guilt and go talk with some living, breathing folks. I’ll touch their arms, their shoulders, brush nonexistent lint from their kerchiefs, yield to the quick hug they’re not quite sure why they’re sharing. When I’ve done something more egregious than protect my heart without harming others’, then I’ll feel guilt and deserve to. But not today.

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