A former colleague passed away this week. We worked together for about six years, and while we never became close friends, he was the first teacher to greet me as I nervously made my way into the school on a humid August afternoon in 1999 to begin setting up my classroom.
He walked me around the building that day, giving me the lay of the land and offering me materials that he was no longer using. The two of us rarely saw eye-to-eye during our teaching days, but he was always as kind and supportive to me as he was on that first day that we met.
In a final stroke of irony, Facebook featured his name and photo this evening in the People You May Know section of my sidebar, suggesting that he and I may want to become Facebook friends. It was the first time that I can ever remember seeing his name and image on my Facebook wall, and Facebook chose today to do so.
In case you were concerned, there is a process by which a deceased person’s Facebook account can be memorialized, so that these things do not happen, and I’m hoping that my former colleague has someone in his life who knows how to do this.
I’m not sure why this is the case, but the image of him floating in his kayak in a North Carolina river is haunting to me.
Perhaps it serves as an unnecessary and unwanted reminder of how tragically short a person’s retirement can be.
And it’s a reminder of death, of course, which is not a subject that I handle with great aplomb.