Dancing on Facebook

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Dancing on Facebook

  I lost my first Facebook friend. His name was Max. I’ve had plenty of people I know die over the years, but this is the first time I’ve processed a death through a social networking outlet. When I heard he had died, I wondered what happens to your presence on Facebook? Do you simply disappear from the network and cease to exist? Only one way to find out …   Before I tell you what I noticed about the postings on his page you need to know a little about what ultimately brought his life to an end. Max died of a disorder that manifests itself with symptoms similar to Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Because of that, Max had spent the last 20 years confined to a wheel chair. Before his disease, he was a pretty good basketball player and had always been very active outdoors.   So, I went to his Facebook page to see what happens when you die and what I found were tributes to this good man. His kids and friends used his site to say words of farewell. But I noticed something unusual. Of the people who wrote a tribute to Max, almost all of them said something to the effect of, “You can dance now.” It seemed odd that they’d almost uniformly make the same observation. But as I pondered it a bit, it made sense. When you see someone confined to a wheelchair unable to participate in the standard movements that most people take for granted, you think, If there was one thing I’d wish for them, it would be that they were freed from their paralysis and able to move in a way that is totally uninhibited. Dancing is how most of us imagine that freedom.   So, Max died and now he’s free to do what his tribute-makers hoped for him. But then I thought about all of those friends and family members who spoke so well of him on Facebook and came to his funeral to honor his memory. I was there with them. None of us were in wheel chairs. All of us had the capacity to dance. But the fact is, few of us take the opportunity. We figure we don’t have the time. We’re caught up in busyness and urgency. We confine our dances to special occasions. We give rain-check promises to our spouse or our kids who wish we’d just let ourselves go with them; to pick up the rhythms of the moment and dance. If not literally, at least metaphorically.   Each day is a gift; the freedom to enjoy it is an honor. What better tribute to my friend Max then not waiting until you’re dead to participate in the dance.  Do what Max couldn’t: Let loose and let ‘er rip!     {Originally published in 2010}

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