One aspect of the current inter-connectivity of social life that I’ve noticed, without being able to integrate it into my sense of place in the world, is how the absence of someone from that ethereal network can become a prominent feature of daily existence. Over the past 18 months I developed a relationship with Cheryl, following her blog at Artzzle, as she followed mine here. Through comments on postings, we got to know each other a bit – certainly as well as I know some of my coworkers in my day job, given that we all work from our respective home offices and only meet in person on a quarterly basis for training events. Cheryl has been “offline” for several months now; one of her last posts mentioned awaiting the results of pending medical tests, without specifying whether they were her own or for a family member. I can only suppose the news was not good, and that there is now no room for blogging in Cheryl’s life. I don’t know if she still reads my posts – or if she is totally off line and not able to know that I would offer support if I could reach her.

Upon reflection, the tenuousness of this sort of online link is not greater than that I have with face to face (or at least phone call to phone call) friends who live in distant places and whom I only see a few times a year, if that. When we do get together, or have a long phone conversation, the friendship seems not to have suffered any interruption. And I think we take for granted that it will continue as well into the future. Only rarely, as some years ago, have I been brought up short by the discovery, after the fact, that the other person is gone. Not just out of touch, but out of this world, moved on to another plane of existence without my having an opportunity to say goodbye, or even to know that a transition was impending.

It has been the pattern of my life that my closest friends are not usually found in my physical proximity. Partially, perhaps, because for the first half of my life I moved around so often. Although I’ve now lived many years in one location, the majority of my close friendships continue to be with people who live elsewhere. Not sure why, not sure that why matters.

What does matter is that all these relationships – physical or online – have inherent within them the risk of an ending occurring without my knowing about it. My discomfort is not that there is an ending – that is inevitable – but that the other person can cease to be and I not know it for months or even years.

When my father died, some thirty years ago, I knew that – like me – he had friends all around the world with whom he stayed in contact by letter and phone. I didn’t know who those people were, but I projected from my own sense of ‘wanting to know’ that they would also care to be told he had passed away. With no other guide, I turned to his Roladex and sent a death announcement to every address I found there. I received a heart-warming number of replies. The expressions of sympathy were equaled by the appreciations of my effort to inform.

Most of my dearest distant friends have family members whom I trust will inform me if there is a change in status affecting our ability to interact. A few do not. My main communication with these individuals is email. Will anyone trouble to go through a record of email exchanges to send me the sort of notice I mailed out about my father?

With social network links as the primary basis for many friendship interactions (no comment at this time on the “reality” of those friendships), won’t someone please invent – or make me aware of – a mechanism for informing “in the ether” friends of a death or serious restriction on ability to communicate?

Or am I one of too few for whom out of sight is NOT out of mind? No matter – if money can be made out of creating a social network death notification system, someone will set up the site. In the meantime, perhaps I should attempt to develop a sufficient psychic sensitivity to be directly aware when there is a hole in my net of linked relationships.

What I know I can do is assure that someone close to me knows to post an announcement on my blog, should I cease to be able to be here to do so. Do not worry, therefore, if I seem to disappear from sight for a time, as I did when my day job overwhelmed my time. I’m fine, and will be back, unless/until you hear otherwise, here.

And thank you, all, for liking and for following 1eclecticwriter.

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7 Responses to “Passing”

  1. Cheryl @ Artzzle Says:

    N., Just reviewed my comments on an early April post of yours. We were awaiting some news and hoped it would be positive. The news wasn’t health-related. We had been struggling with budget/money issues and having to make some necessary, major home repairs. We applied for a home equity loan, to cover those needs. The news WAS positive and we’ve now hired out and/or done everything. That’s why we’ve been so busy. Later – Cheryl

    • chelawriter Says:

      Sorry if my confusion caused further confusion – glad it was money rather than health and that the outcome has been positive. Home upkeep is on our agenda also – Jackson plans to oil/stain the outside during his short break between summer and fall school terms. Our wood siding gets baked in the SW sun.
      Glad also to know that things are generally going positively for you – busy is good, overall. Will be patient but looking forward to further posts when you have time.

  2. Cheryl @ Artzzle Says:

    N., Your concern is touching … and appreciated, and I thank you. Though I fear you may have confused blogger buddies. While, it’s true, I haven’t posted since April, I’m still hanging around, health-wise, with just my regular #2D and a few meniere’s bouts of late. Life has just been very busy since April. Frankly, I’ve been evaluating my blog, as whether to quit or keep going. To continue, I would want to revamp things and do some updating. However, my computer equipment is falling into the senior category (right along with me AND my budget). So there you have it. I DO have a page on fb ( but that consists mainly of things shared from other blogger buddies, and not much original content.
    And now, I’ll encourage you not to worry, and will go back to reading YOUR post 😀

  3. Gail Rubin Says:

    Great post! Can I run this as a guest blog post on my blog, The Family Plot?

    Gail Rubin, CT The Doyenne of Death® 2015 TEDxABQ Speaker Certified Thanatologist and Celebrant

    PH: 505-265-7215 A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die

    “Talking about sex won’t make you pregnant, talking about funerals and end-of-life issues won’t make you dead. Start a conversation today.”

  4. Becky Says:

    Funny you should write this. I was thinking about our relationship recently, & how it has become more on-line since I left PHP. Think about you often, & hope you are well.

    • chelawriter Says:

      And I’m so rarely on line that it taxes the relationship. sorry about that… Hope you’re not too fried with the heat that is excessive even here!

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