The anniversary of my dad's death is right around the corner. I've been thinking about it recently, and about how I learned he died. I think about him often—not always fondly—but I have to admit that in years past I have completely forgotten to observe his death. Not every year. Some years. Payback for all the years he forgot my birthday, I guess.
I don't know what's different this year. I'm a father now. I guess that's part of it. Just a minor life change. You know.
Still in grad school, I woke up late. Listened to the traffic slide by our Nashville apartment. Listened to the neighbor downstairs coughing. I pulled up the covers and turned on my side. Grabbed the iPod Touch off the bedside table and checked out Twitter. Jumped on Facebook.
Who's Sean Fonseca?
"Logan, I think you are the right Logan. I see you changed your last name. I am your cousin Sean, from your dad's side."
Oh, that Sean Fonseca.
"I am sorry to deliver this news, but your father, Steve Beggs, died yesterday of a heart attack. Please call grandpa. I know he would like to talk to you."
I'm sure there were some other pleasantries and condolences but I've deleted my Facebook account two or three times since then and I don't remember them.
I can't think of a more bleeding edge way to find out your dad died than through a Facebook message.
I immediately put down the iPod, got out of bed and went to the computer to read the message again. Something about a bigger screen. I called Elizabeth, told her I was fine stay at work. I read the message again. Wrote back to Sean. "Thanks for writing. Sorry you had to be the one to deliver the news. Will write more soon."
I felt a lot of things. Relieved mostly, sorry to say. It had been three years since we had spoken father to son, son to father. It felt like the time was coming to mend things, and I didn't look forward to managing a relationship with him for the rest of his life. Well, no worries now.
But I also strongly remember—I suppose it's beside the point—I also remember reading Sean's message again and sitting back in my chair, sighing, and saying to the empty room, "Fuck Facebook." To this day, when I tell someone the story they get a funny little pained expression on their face, and they kind of laugh and say, "Really?" and shake their head. "Yeah, I know. Facebook, right?" Hah hah.
I don't think it means anything or tells us anything about who we are. It just is. It's something that happened to me. And fifteen minutes later I was walking to my Kierkegaard class wishing I felt sadder about it.