In my early twenties, a girl I grew up with died in a car crash. As with anyone who dies too soon, it was hard to understand and hard to forget. By this time in my life, I wasn’t really friends with her, but I had some close friends who were. So it felt too real and too close to home.
In sixth grade, her birthday party was the first boy/girl party I went to. It was momentous at the time, but looking back, it was probably just a big let down. Boys stood on one end of the garage and ate all the snacks while girls stood on the other end of the garage pretending we wanted to dance while no one actually danced.
Sixth grade, what a crazy time.
Now years later, Facebook keeps suggesting I be friends with her. Now, after all these years of her being gone, Facebook thinks we should connect.
Every time I see that suggestion, it makes me sad all over again.
She’s gone! I want to yell at the screen—stop suggesting her!
Then I worry about all the other people that are being reminded of her absence every day by a social media website. I wish someone could just log in and cancel her account. Because it would make me feel better. Not her parents who have to struggle daily without their daughter or her close friends who feel a tangible void in their lives; I want someone to deactivate her account so someone who knew her 15 years ago can be less uncomfortable.
I wonder how often these great and wonderful things we love to incorporate into our lives are actually backfiring. How many automatic responses, birthday reminders, and friend connections we have that aren’t real anymore, that bring about pain when they–through a little computer magic–come back into our lives.
When we found out we were pregnant in December, I downloaded a baby countdown app on my phone. Then in January, when I had a miscarriage, I deleted the app. But somehow I must have inadvertently signed up for approximately one hundred different email reminders about this baby that no longer existed. Because at least once a week, I get an email about prenatal advice, how many weeks along I am, or what I should be buying for the baby growing in my belly.
Except there is no baby.
No matter how many times I unsubscribe to an email, another one comes the next week in its place. When I’m least expecting it and, sometimes, not equipped to deal with it.
For the most part, the whole surprise pregnancy and miscarriage time feels like a foggy dream: not real, hard to remember, and some uncertainty about me being involved in it. I’m detached in a weird way.
Then a handy email reminder comes along, and I’m smacked in the face with it again.
Sometimes the memory just stays for a moment and other times the memory sticks all day. Sometimes it comes with joy and sometimes it comes with sadness.
But thanks to automatic emails, the reminder always comes.
It just makes me wonder how much of this life of being connected with technology, is actually beneficial.
Because sometimes it just hurts.
Originally published on Trusty Chucks in March 2013
Mary Graham is a lifelong resident of Indianapolis, Indiana. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog, Blue. During the day, she teaches high school English and at night (after the girls are asleep), she writes for The Huffington Post, Pearson's Teachability, For Every Mom, her own blog TrustyChucks & various other print and digital outlets. In her spare time, she likes to read, travel, eat chocolate, run half marathons, and then eat more chocolate.