The sons of one of my best friends from college lost their Dad this past week.   I knew both their Dad and Mom from college, went to their wedding, visited them in Kansas and hosted them often in Chicago. They divorced some time ago.  Each went on to remarry and have older blended families. Their sons went to North Park University which was just blocks from my old house.  They were kind of “my kids” only better during college.  I made then “goodie” packages and they say I made chocolate chip cookies better than their Mom’s or Grandma’s.  I was their source for birthday cakes and the Red Roof Inn for their mom when she came to visit.  The boys helped me bring home new furniture and a freezer. I hosted both of their “Open Houses” when they graduated from college.  Both have since moved from Chicago.  They graciously agreed to be my Facebook friend.

Their Mom isn’t on Facebook so keeping in touch is harder and well, I had a lot going on this Fall and Winter.  Several months ago one of the boys wrote a Facebook post which he dedicated to his Dad who was going through a rough medical crisis.  I immediately Facebook messaged him and told him how sorry I was to hear the news and that I’d be thinking of them.  I then messaged the brother and said the same.  Bits and pieces came out as we “talked” via FB.  Inoperable brain cancer with a very grim prognosis.  I emailed their Mom and kept in touch with them via FB.  Last week one son wrote that his Dad had died early in the morning following Easter.  It was three months start to finish.  I was able to message both of them, remark how their Dad would sit through their NP choir concerts with the biggest smile on his face.  They said they were singing hymns before he died.  I told them I was sure their voices sounded sweeter than any angel choir to their Dad.

I don’t pretend to be in regular contact with them.  They are young and I’m…not old but a peer of their parents.  I wouldn’t be on the list of people they would call when their Dad died.  But just the same I love them and I was so thankful to know what was happening and offer what support I could, from afar.

You see, I’ve recently been there.  With sick parents and the death of my Mom.  It allowed me to be in contact with people I wouldn’t regularly be in touch with.  They sent words of support and comfort from near and far.  And during those days and months (and now) that meant everything to me.

They boys both wrote a brief tribute to their Dad on FB as a way of letting people know he had died.  Their words were heartfelt, raw in grief, rich in memory.  I did the same when my Mom died.  In those moments of fresh grief, FB offered me an outlet to tell those friends and family what my Mom meant to me.  So it was with them this past week.  And as people respond, those words are balm to the soul.  I know.

People talk about the “evils” of FB and social media.  And certainly it can be a huge time-waster.  People share political views which makes me crazy for every presidential election cycle.  I get plugs for the NRA (no, just no), video’s about every cute puppy out there.  I hear more stuff from Focus on the Family than I EVER want to hear.

Still, in times like these it bridges miles and sometimes the oceans between us and those we care about.  It keeps us in touch with the happenings, sad or joyful, of our friends , as they happen.  Not as a footnote in next years Christmas letter.

Peace to you Tim and Drew.  And peace to your Dad’s memory.