Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sibling Assignment #114: The Miracle of Facebook

I recently assigned this task to my sisters and me:

Find a photograph you snapped in the last year that epitomizes 2009 for you and explain.

InlandEmpireGirl reflected upon her discoveries about time and how she's changing her behavior, here. Look for a link to Silver Valley Girl's piece sometime after she's finished her Tony award winning performance in "I Do! I Do!" at the Sixth Street Melodrama.

It was tempting to post the photograph I snapped back in late June of my brother-in-law David on our living room couch with Snug. David's death on November 27 came at the end of an illness diagnosed in March of 2009. The shadow of his illness and his death loomed over 2009. You can see this picture, here. You can also read some of my thoughts about David, here.

David's death, along with The Deke's mother's death, and along with my serious illnesses in the first half of the year, epitomized the pain of 2009.

But, for this piece of writing, I'm going to focus on a more positive, almost miraculous development in 2009, and, for me, this photograph is the perfect image to represent this joy:

This is a picture of Diane.

As the year 2008 drew to a close, I was home alone. The Deke and her children congregated in West Point, NY for Christmas and I stayed in Eugene.

I decided to become a part of the world of Facebook because I could see it would be a quick and immediate way for me to enjoy pictures of what was happening in West Point (and Kellogg) over the holidays and I could have at least a small sensation that I was sharing Christmas with my families.

Here's what I didn't count on: I didn't count on a friend invitation coming from Diane. I hadn't seen nor heard from Diane since 1992, the year of our Kellogg High School 20 year reunion.

In fact, when I first received it, I didn't know who it came from. Diane use going by a last name I didn't recognize. But, I did recognize her picture.

Diane and I were friendly acquaintances in high school, but we moved in very different circles. However, our conversations at the 20 year reunion had been really good and we'd shared a letter or two back and forth.....but then fell out of touch.

With Facebook, we immediately discovered a great deal of commonality, especially in our Silver Valley roots. At about the same time, Diane also discovered a KHS graduate named Eric on Facebook.

The miracles started here.

Eric and Diane soon took things offline, started doing this and that together, and now they are doing much more than this and that...they are together.

Through Facebook, Diane became friends with more KHS Class of 72 graduates and soon became aware that a movement was afoot to try to get as many Class of '72 grads as possible together in some unknown place at an unknown time somewhere in Oregon to celebrate having all turned 55 years old.

Diane called me one night. She'd reconnected with Patty. They were together and decided to end the vagueness about this get together.

"Let's rent a house in Lincoln City. Do you think the others would go for that?" Diane asked me.

"Hell, yes!" I replied. "Go for it."

Diane secured the house.

A while later, she opened her home to a June BBQ, attended by KHS '72 classmates from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. She became friends -- again, in some cases, and for the first time in others -- with Joni, Carol, Ed, Mike, Cheryl, and others and by the time August and the Lincoln City party rolled around, she had been a catalyst for getting people together who had hardly known, just six months earlier, much about each other at all.

Most of it happened because of Facebook.

I think, with the help of Facebook, this circle of friends will continue to widen. Some members of our class who knew the Lincoln City party was happening had other plans and couldn't come. I'm sure if they looked at the photos posted on Facebook, those who couldn't come can see not just the good times, but the good will we shared.

The party at Lincoln City felt like a miracle to me. In fact, I wrote, here, that being with my friends felt like church to me.

I took the picture I posted at the top of this piece during the Lincoln City weekend.

It's a candid. Diane didn't pose for it. She didn't know I was suddenly going to swing my camera in her direction and snap this picture.

This unposed moment captures what epitomizes the best parts of 2009 for me. You can see it in Diane's face: joy, generosity, enjoyment, openness, relaxation, authenticity, and spiritual beauty.

These are the qualities I love in my friends from Kellogg and I will be forever grateful to Diane for taking a great idea that many of us had, "pre-Diane", and giving it shape, structure, organization, possibility, and vitality.

It was one of the best weekends of my life.

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