Fans of Harry Potter and other fantasy stories often imagine what life would be like with magic, forgetting that in our modern world, there are plenty of miraculous inventions that seem magical in nature. I was reminded of this last week when I learned my aunt was dying. I wanted to write her a letter and wound up using Facebook to say goodbye.
At first, I intended to sit down and write her on beautiful stationery that I would send by snail mail. Every time I tried to think of what I would say, I teared up, so the first twenty-four hours after I got the news, I struggled to get started.
But I was eager to do something quickly. Aunt Leigh had lung cancer, which had only been diagnosed the week before, and the doctors said there was nothing they could do for her. She had a few weeks left at most, and already had hospice workers in her home, easing her pain in her last days.
As I fought to sit down and write the letter, I thought of Facebook. My aunt was online every day, sharing uplifting posts and liking everything I put up almost as soon as it appeared. There was a good chance if I used Facebook’s messenger, she would see it pretty quickly.
Writing to her online also took a lot of pressure off me, because I no longer had to fill a whole sheet of stationery. I wrote a short note, sending her my love and wishes that she might be as comfortable as possible and surrounded by family in the time she had left.
A few hours later, I got an answer. She sounded serene and grateful for her situation, emphasizing all the love she was feeling from those around her and the excellent medical care she was receiving. She ended by saying:
Stay as happy, healthy as you can and enjoy the days. Hug your sister and nephew and husband often.
I wrote back to assure her I would be following her advice and got another response before the day was out.
Perhaps this doesn’t seem magical to anyone else. But it isn’t just the warmth of this personal interaction with a woman I loved and admired that makes me so grateful for the instant communication of Facebook.
Aunt Leigh died only a few days later. If I had followed my initial instinct and written her a traditional paper letter, she would never have seen it, not with only two business days to make the journey. She wouldn’t have known I was thinking of her or that I would miss her, and I wouldn’t have had the comfort of knowing that while no one wanted her to go, she was ready and already at peace.
Facebook is not a perfect tool. Interactions there can leave us annoyed, bewildered, even angry. But today I see how magical it is. It enabled me to have a last loving interaction with my aunt, one I will treasure until the day I die.
Have you had a magical experience with Facebook?