When a friend and neighbor died in May, I checked her Facebook page daily—sometimes hourly. I read all the condolences with tears running down my face, looking back through all the photos and posts she’d made documenting her life as a wife and mother. When her husband posted updates, photos, and thank-you notes, I cried harder. It felt important to pay attention; to not immediately return to my normal life. I was, in some strange modern way, holding vigil for the family; attempting to carry a small portion of their terrible tragedy in whatever way I could.
I know others have wanted to do the same for me, but I haven’t been able to face social media since Eric died. I’ve opened my accounts to read condolence messages and share them with my kids. We’ve felt the love and the shared sorrow from family, friends, and people I only know through the computer screen. I’ve been grateful for a way to get the word out while also remaining grateful for the barrier my friend Kat helped create by posting updates and information for me. It formed a mental barricade between the reality of engaging with people and my own personal mourning.
I thought eventually I’d be able to post on those accounts myself, but so far I haven’t been able to. Instagram and Facebook are pretty painful places to be, especially during a holiday season. So many of you are living your beautiful lives with your very much alive spouses and partners, and while I’m happy for you (so, so happy for you), I also can’t take it.
But this space—this weird, historied, complicated blog space—is all mine. No one else’s stories are here. No one else’s photos. I don’t even have to look through pages of happier times because I archived years of blog posts and printed it all into books back in January. That feels extremely apropos now; I just need a clean slate. I do enough wallowing in our family albums as it is.