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What we leave behind


I don’t really go for all of that New Age, hippy-dippy, yin-yang karmic stuff, but I do like to think there’s some sense of give-and-take, rhyme-and-reason scheme at play here.

Example: My first child’s birth and my wife’s greatgrandmother’s death were just a day apart. It’s got this whole “circle of life” thing about it. One soul replaces the other, right? It’s the cosmic balance of the universe that keeps in line with all the other laws of nature — what goes up must come down, for every action there’s an equal opposite reaction, every cloud has a silver lining, day and night, good and bad, life and death — so there’s a sort of symmetry there, it seems.

I’m not trying to get into some philosophical, metaphysical or religious deal here, but like the great philosopher Brett Michaels taught us, “Every rose has its thorn.” I just want to find a way to think about things that might be part of a bigger idea.

You see, a couple of weeks ago, I was just minding my own business, scrolling through my Facebook news feed, as one does, when I read came across one friend’s post one of those “Facebook Memories” deals with a post from seven years ago: “Prayers for my girl Samantha Cohea. God’s got this! Much love.”

Maybe you knew Samantha. Maybe you know her family.

Maybe you don’t. If you visited the Sonic in Marion back in 2013, there’s a pretty good chance she took or delivered

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your order. And if she did, almost surely she did so with a pleasant attitude and a smile.

And, sadly, you might remember reading her obituary in the paper back in the Summer of ‘13, which feels, I swear, somehow both jus the other day and a million years ago at the same time.

Samantha was in a car wreck, multiple injuries including head trauma, lifesupport, family decisions needing to be made. Any situation like this is always tragic, especially when it’s a young person.

I knew Samantha. Back in my school-teaching days, she was a student at Marion High School and president of SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions. That meant that in addition to her regular school studies, she spent a good deal of extracurricular time promoting the idea that her classmates should shy away from smoking, drinking, using drugs and any number of other potentially dangerous activities.

As is often the case, after she graduated in 2007, I pretty much lost track of her for a few years. I honestly don’t know what she had been up to since then.

An obituary only gives you so much information and other than some perfunctory “How have you been?”

conversation while exchanging money for fast food treats at Sonic, we didn’t really have a whole lot to say to each other. But that was not the case on Facebook, where her family and friends just inundated her “wall” with messages of love and sadness and well-wishing and anything else that helped them vent frustration and express their feelings for Samantha. She died on July 5, 2013.

She was 24.

The reminder of the anniversary of her death led me to wonder about something. What happens on Facebook when someone dies? I have had a few Facebook friends pass away, but I never really considered their social media presence and what happens to it after that.

Does the page stay up?

If so, how long?

Whose responsibility is it to see that it is either taken down or maintained?

It was a bit of a morbid task, but I checked and Samantha’s page is no longer up. So, I tried another, more recently departed Facebook friend, Frank Martin. His page is still up.

In fact, the last few posts are fond rememberances of the world’s biggest Blue Devils fan from those who marked his passing. Maybe that’s what should happen to those Facebook profiles?

Leave them up as a chronicle of a person’s last days and their passing.

There are worse things that could happen.

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