Mourning Becomes Connected

Perhaps our most meaningful creations are the thoughts and changes that we leave in other people – traces that used to disperse and disappear over time after someone’s death. But now Facebook and other such tools, provide a place for those memories to gather.

PALO ALTO – My close friend Kris Olson died last week. It wasn’t after a long illness, or even after a car crash. She just went to bed at home one night, and was dead when her son tried to wake her in the morning. No drama, no long goodbyes, just…nothing.

I heard about it two days later from my brother, by e-mail, who heard from a friend of his. Then I got a couple of e-mails from other friends, forwarding messages from people I didn’t even know, with a few cc’s to some familiar names. I called a friend and got a few sparse details: Kris’s husband was away but had hurried back. And no, there was absolutely no warning. No signs. No health issues, except that a few years back she broke her arm catching a football.

Until I had these conversations, I didn’t really believe that Kris had died. And then there were those confirming e-mails. I had seen her just last month: alive and vivid as usual. We went to her hairdresser, where she chatted while I had my hair cut. We went shopping at the Stanford shopping center, and had soup for lunch, sitting outside in unusually chilly weather because the eateries were crowded.

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