The Scent of a Virtual Memorial’s Roses


We always seem to come back to a problem that never has resolve or relief. How do we grieve for the loss of internet friends? Yes, I mean “death”. Yes, I mean folks whom we’ve never met in person but, through time, have become important. Yes, “we” is the collective of modern internet junkies who actually breathe deeply every know and then.

As in our “day to day”, hopefully extant, and certainly three-dimensional world, such sorrow can be debilitating. And it can be pesky: zapping us with a poignant, weepy, and charged bit of nostalgia.

For me, thoughts of departed friends and family can cascade from my memory right down to the table top. Slideshows of faces can stare back and almost challenge me to “go there” and face those losses that are still raw. Within moments thoughts and being begin throbbing with anger, guilt, and melancholia.

So today, I am thinking of three friends who have passed away in the past year or so, the deaths of whom I cannot seem to move past:

Karen G, who was always lyrical, witty, and certain to always react with kindness.
Scott B, who was a gruff, opinionated, and reactionary asshole. But he was an immensely loyal and enlightened egalitarian.
Farrah S, who was bedridden and spiraling into life’s painful denouement. We’d often talk for hours late at night, solving any and all conspiracy theories as well as predicting political trends.

Perhaps, my subconscious honors them by keeping those profiles valid in my heart. I usually reach the same conclusion each time. Such friends are unexpected and blessed gifts from the Universe.

This year, however, I realize that I am thankful for the time I did have with these friends. We shared joy. We poured our “melted” hearts out to each other and allowed ourselves a relationship without pretense.

I do believe that these three friends helped me grow up just a little more.

(Henry picked this Vuillard bouquet just for them.)

5 thoughts on “The Scent of a Virtual Memorial’s Roses

  1. A lovely tribute, Mark. I knew Farrah as well, though not as well as you did. I lost a Facebook friend named Lori Williams who was a gifted poet, ribald and profound and beautiful, and I’ll really never forget her. There have been others. These meetings, friendships and yes, mournings are what are strong and resilient about this medium. I relish your posts, and thank you for this one, heartfelt and so caring.

  2. Oh, Mark! This one hit me in the gut tonight. I’ve been pondering death in all its various permutations, and here you come talking about the deaths of friends we know from the internet. I’ve been distressed when, for example, I look at my Facebook friends list and see all ones who’ve died and whose pages are still sitting there, still viewable, with people continuing to post memories and pictures of the deceased. My own memories of these deceased friends come flooding back; the memories of how they died – suicides, cancers, accidental or perhaps not so accidental overdoses and more. And I mourn them all over again, wondering why I wasn’t there to stop them from killing themselves, yes, as though I’m all that powerful or just “all that” period. And what would happen if one day I find myself going down that same path … who will notice, who will mourn for me?

    But don’t you even think for one second of leaving the planet by any means, Mark. I’ve no idea what I’d do without the posts you write here on this blog or the collections of artwork that build on Facebook. You add more joy to my grungy, poverty stricken, and pain-filled life than you’ll ever know. I pray daily that your transplant happens very, very soon, that it is 100% successful, and that you and Jon go on forever living in whatever new Marklewood you locate with all your wonderful cats. You are truly a blessing!

    Shabbat shalom. You are loved.

  3. I too have gone through these feelings of loss and anger as so many good friends i met in person, on the phone for hours, on the Internet listserve and now FB groups to which I belong. So many of my contemporaries with lung diseases die and I cry and mourn their leaving me. Either they didn’t live long enough to get a transplant or they just didn’t survive the trials that come afterwards or for no known reason. Yet so many times I see it coming and I can’t do anything about it and can only tell them how much I love them and how much they gave me with their friendship. I even went and scattered the ashes of a lovely young girl over high water falls in North Carolina something she wanted me to do for her, a place that held special meaning and joy for her. It meant some serious climbing and a little deception too but it did provide comfort.
    Peace Mark

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