Sometimes social media exposes you to people you’d never meet and yet you feel as if you there as they share the most intimate pieces of their life. Like their baby dying.
First, my heart ripped open and I couldn’t barely read Stephanie Nielson’s dances with death and her ongoing, slow painful recovery. I mean it literally makes you cringe but makes you happy at the same time. That she could endure this with such an attitude of optimism. She is a hero for what she endures in front of us all. It’s an act of courage to show her face and its new beauty. An earned beauty rather than a pretty face.
This week I saw this tweet that my friend Mat on Twitter retweeted:
My heart stops. So does everything else. I go to the blog and learn about Natalie Norton. Her baby boy got RSV, then another infection. He’s only 3 months old. I refresh the page, looking for another update. There is hope! He’s getting better! I pray for them right as I read her request prayers. I wait. Mostly I pray that they can handle it when their baby dies. I think that it is coming but I hold out some hope. Nothing more and I go to bed.
The next morning I wake up and check Twitter. Andy Beal tweets his condolences to Natalie.
This is how I know. I go to the final tweet and then to her blog. I’m stunned. I remind myself that this is real, that somewhere in Hawaii, a mother has lost her baby. And I’m sorry and sad. But again I’m also inspired – by the faith and courage. The glimpse into lives.
It’s strange but I learn about a lot of deaths on Twitter. None so intimately. Social media means that I’m there. My empathy and love for people expands by being a part of it. To me it’s a collection of real time stories from all over the world in all sorts of languages from all types of people. Sometimes it’s an escape. Sometimes it’s voyeurism. Other times it’s helpful.
Sometimes, like today, they feel like family.