When a “Facebook Friend” Passes On

melissaI lost a friend today. I’m heartbroken, yet I never met her, never spoke to her in person, never heard her voice until someone posted a video of her today–the day she died.
How often have you heard the question, “yeah you have hundreds of Facebook friends but how many would attend your funeral?” The point is how many of your so-called “friends” do you really know or have a real relationship with, or honestly care about, or think about even a second after you log off?
Facebook says I have 800+ friends, and I admit, there are many with whom I’ve never shared a moment face-to-face. Such was my relationship with Melissa Kitchens.
We had one common bond, and that was we were both former CNN employees, or should I say more properly, formerly employed by CNN but forever a member of the extended family the network became over the past 35 years.
Our paths never crossed during my 8 years in Atlanta or my 12 in Detroit, yet
through her Facebook posts I knew Melissa was religious, devoted to her mother, her loving companion Chuck, that she was vivacious, beautiful physically and spiritually. In her post-CNN life she created a successful catering business and became Sweet Melissa. I understood her pound cake to be legendary and kick myself for never ordering one. I discovered she ran audio for CNN and had a sharp sense of humor and sometimes drove the directors crazy with her drawl and jokes.
If she “liked” or commented on one of my posts I felt I had accomplished something by sparking such a magnificent person to notice it and document her pleasure or agreement with something I wrote.
When she kicked in our guts by posting she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a breath left me and wondered why someone as perfect and pious and bright as Melissa was “rewarded” for all the good she brought to world with a scourge that would ultimately remove her from it.
“Pray for me,” she would post every time she went for an exam or another surgery or procedure. We did. We prayed for Sweet Melissa. I prayed for someone with whom I had only a virtual relationship but a visceral connection. It hurts the same as the loss of someone I would see every day in the office or in the neighborhood.
Tell me Melissa wasn’t a “real” friend and our friendship will end. You don’t know..or your arrogant..or you missed out.
Would Melissa attend my funeral had she outlived me? Who knows. I regret my business travel prevents me from attending hers, but no matter. That’s a false measure of friendship. Friendship is the elixir brewed by a combination of caring, concern, humor, empathy, sharing and affection. For Sweet Melissa, in her memory, my Facebook friend,  my real friend, I drink to you.

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7 comments

  1. Marjorie Martin

    Hi Ed — Margie from CNN Medical (80s & 90s)
    I have been struggling to explain this phenomenon – the death of a FB friend – to friends & family and you have captured it beautifully. You clearly haven’t lost your wonderful way with words.

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  2. Hope Stern

    Makes you think hard…thanks….and my husband is part of the “CNN” TimeWarner circle. Funny how you are all connected. BUT even more so, I agree with your assessment on Facebook “friends”. Thanks for a thoughtful post and my sympathies for all our loss with Sweet Melissa’s passing

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  3. esdmattroush

    That’s what just kills me — the people who say Facebook friends aren’t real friends. Well, not always, but they sure can be. (These are also the people who say today’s young people aren’t communicating when they’re on they’re smartphones furiously tapping out texts. Well of COURSE they’re communicating — they’re just communicating with people who don’t happen to be in the room right now!)

    Like

  4. Jean Ann Rose 🌹

    Thank you for your great tribute, so perceptive, intimate and a deeper look into the phenomenon of Miss Melissa. She etched an indelible footprint on my heart. Her example was her message. She was beauty personified, had a zest for life, compassion and great love for her parents, Chuck, her friends, humanity and fur babies, to mention a few. She gave without measure, “the widow’s pence” through much sacrifice, hard work, expense and love while she was very ill with cancer. This was her annual gift of herself for years, so others would have a beautiful Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, as well as gifts. Rest in Peace Melissa, you have enriched my life forever. I miss you my dearly. 💔

    Like

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