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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Just Another Facebook Post

The other day, I was taking a much needed break at work and checked my Facebook news feed. The day had gotten away from me – as it often will on a Monday as I find myself making a frantic dash to get back ahead of things.

I hadn’t checked Facebook since the previous Friday, so was diligently scrolling through the noise of the newsfeed to make sure I hadn’t missed anything special, since Facebook has now become the avenue for me to learn which friends are expecting, whose birthday it is, who folks are voting for on Election day, and even when friends are selling a home.

As I was scrolling down, I started seeing the name of a friend repeatedly in my news feed. At first it did not register, but at some point, the vast number of pictures he was tagged in raised a red flag and suddenly the hairs on my neck were standing up.

I started scrolling down maniacally, hoping that my worst suspicions were wrong.

Oh no.

Oh no.



In loving memory of Gerald, the next post said, from a girl whom I did not know – but who had tagged a smiling picture of Gerald. I immediately went to his Facebook page, thinking that I must have missed something.

And maybe, hoping I had.

In Gerald’s status message, Gerald’s brother had posted in his place, notifying everyone that Gerald had been in a fatal motorcycle accident the previous Friday night.

As I connected with distant friends to understand what had happened – I was able to learn that Gerald had been killed by a drunk driver who had run into Gerald head on, going down the wrong side of the highway. The details of the accident slowly revealed themselves in the days following, leading up to the funeral service.

Gerald was not a friend I saw often, or in fact, in years. He had been a part of my memories of a different phase in my life. He was a solid, steadfast man who I knew in my days of fluttering around the Washington, DC nightlife as a habitual social butterfly in my mid-late twenties. He was a bouncer at my favorite bar and had been a big teddy bear, despite his large and potentially intimidating stature.

I joked with my husband that Gerald had played interference on more than a few instances for me – sending me home in a taxi before I got too drunk or fending off amorous suitors who didn’t understand that I wasn’t interested. Or telling me when I was beer goggling and needed to get back home before I caused collateral damage.

Ah, those were the days.

Here is the thing. Without Facebook, I would not have known that Gerald had passed. At the same time, finding out about his death on a newsfeed while I sat innocuously at my desk was a sucker punch to the gut I had not been prepared for.

I will miss Gerald and all the memories he represents for me. More than anything – I realize that Gerald probably did not realize the full extent to which he affected people in his joy of life, his desire to protect, and his ability to offer friendship to everyone.

In our lives we tend to internalize a lot of the things we see as shortcomings within ourselves.

I’m not good enough.

I’m not pretty enough.

I’m NEVER skinny enough.

I’m not successful enough.

I’m not smart enough.

I realize that with each passing year and the subsequent passing of dear friends and family that each of us leaves behind a far greater legacy than we realize. And I want to change what matters to me as I determine what my own legacy means.

Do my children understand what it means to be selfless?

Did I offer the hand of assistance and love to those who needed it?

Did I teach my children to be strong while being kind; empathetic without being doormats?

Does my family know how much they mean to me?

Do my friends know they can lean on me?

Life is fleeting.

But your legacy need not be.

Gerald wrote an open letter to his two daughters a few months before he died. I don’t believe there was any sense of premonition of what was to come – but I do know he is probably glad that he did it as he looks down on his family now.

Sariyah and Raine,
I am greatful and blessed to have two such wonderful young ladies like you in my life.

Thank you for allowing me to be your father. Thank you for showing me that a father is defined by actions and not by name. Thank you for never using the word "Step" when you talk about me. Thank you for making me feel special by letting me get you to sleep when no one else could. Thank you for knowing my word to you will be kept. Thank you for allowing me into your private world and trusting me. Thank you for using me as your bench mark to be a better person. Thank you for never saying "why" but "okay" dad. Thank you most of all for showing me what it means to be a father!

Thank you for letting me see myself in such a unique way. Thank you for having such a quick wit that makes me laugh all the time. Thank you for having such a loving gentle way about you. Thank you for being so thoughtful and unselfish. Thank you for being my carbon copy and allowing me to help you get through some of the confusing times you are dealing with. Thank you for never questioning how much I love you. Thank you for letting me show the world my beautiful contribution. Thank you most of all for showing me what amazing truly is.

In loving memory of Gerald Lance Glasper.

Thank you for the memories of your smile and your laughter, Gerald.

13 comments: said...

What a lovely tribute to your friend. Every time I think of closing my Facebook account, I think of things like this--what important life events would I miss out on?
Also--it's amazing how a death can affect us. Even if we haven't seen the person in years. It still hurts just as bad as if you had seen them yesterday. Sorry for your loss.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

The death of someone you know is always a shock. Makes you face your own mortality and want to leave the world a better place. I truly believe there is a reason for everyone's life and that they leave a legacy.
Your friend sounds like a very remarkable man and I am sorry for your loss.

LL Cool Joe said...

I lost a good friend in a motorcycle accident. Everyone leaves their mark on this planet, and sadly we often only realise that until they've gone.

foxy said...

Oh man, that is hard news to read on Facebook. I'm so sorry about your friend. And, you know, something told him to write those open letters to his kids. I'm glad that he heeded that nudge and got those words out there for his daughters to read. This was a beautiful tribute, Kiran.

Ruth J said...

it's nice to see you back on your blog! i missed reading your posts.

i'm so sorry to hear about your friend.

Archana said...

As someone mentioned it is amazing how reading/hearing about someone passing away affects us even if we don't know them. But more than that what really affected me here is the futility of two children losing their dad(yet again) and a nice person losing all his hopes, dreams and future to the irresponsibility of a drunkern schmuck. Will the driver ever realise the extent of his damage on all the lives related.

Melinda said...

Wow ... what a terrible, senseless tragedy. Your reflections are so right on the money -- so many of the things we think are so important won't amount to a hill of beans when we're gone. I'm so sorry for Gerald and his sweet daughters ... what a treasure he left them with his words.

Katy said...

I was just doing a web search to see of any updates to Gerald's killer's sentencing and stumbled upon this beautiful post. I lost another dear friend this past Friday and your words of wisdom really ring true about leaving your own legacy, caring about what is truly important and most of all, reminding people that you need to let them know how important they are to you as often as possible. You truly never know when will be the last time you will see someone which I have become painfully aware of in the last 3 weeks. Thank you for your post. Katy Burke

Masala Chica said...

Sara/Kathy/LL Cool J - thank you guys for your empathy. Yes - Facebook has now officially become an "obit" page for us as well.

Ruth J - I am still in stealth mode - just getting caught up, but trying for darn sure.

Foxy - love you girl :-)

Katy - thanks for reading the post and finding some beauty in in. I am sorry for the other blows you have taken recently and know you will heal.


Allyson said...

Facebook is such a funny development in our culture. It used to be that every time you ran into an old friend or acquaintance, you would say "oh yes, let's stay in touch!" And then you never do. FB has completely changed all of that. We are able to stay in touch so much better than ever. That includes announcements on babies, wedding, and, unfortunately, deaths. I know that hearing about your friend's death on FB is jarring. At least when someone calls you to share bad news, you have a chance to prepare yourself like when they say "are you sitting down?"or "I have some bad news." But here it was, mixed in with status updates about weather and football scores. And you are expected to finish your day just as you started it. I'm so sorry to hear of your friend's very untimely, very tragic death. A death that absolutely could have been prevented. And I'm sorry that you had to find out that way. I'm glad, though, that you did have a way to find out in a timely fashion. Instead of wondering what ever happened to him. My thoughts are with you and my prayers are with his family.

Amy said...

So sorry to hear of your friend's death. It is truly tragic that his life ended so abruptly. The letters to his girls brought tears to my eyes. Wishing comfort and peace for his family and loved ones.

SurferWife said...

oh Kiran, my condolences to you and his family. That was a wonderful tribute to your friend.

PS- I miss you.

Nick Ebben said...

I'm so sad to hear of the passing of this great man, Gerald Glasper. He was my drill instructor in 1997 at MCRD San Diego. I have always had fond memories of him, which should really say something of Gerald, as most may not have fond memories of their drill instructors. He was a great man, in heart as well as stature. I wish all the best for his family.


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