“We stood in the shoe-cluttered entryway clinging to each other as if we would never see one another again. None of us dared say those words aloud, but we all knew this was our last hug. God graciously had given us this gift of saying good-bye in person after a decade of being separated by hundreds of miles, yet connected by a friendship that had begun when we were just toddlers and newborns.
We were not just friends, we were sisters at heart. There were four of us – Hillari, Heather, Ashleigh, and me – each roughly a year apart. I was the oldest, Hillari the youngest, and the two of us did not have sisters while Ashleigh and Heather were biological sisters. We each had many friends, but while some came and went, the four of us were always together until 1999 when Ashleigh and Heather’s family moved several states away. For the next ten plus years, phone calls, emails, and eventually Facebook became our way to stay in touch despite the physical distance. We sent each other messages every so often trying to come up with a plan for a reunion now that we were all grown-up, but it never happened. We were all young married women with little money and full schedules thinking we had a lifetime to make it happen.
Then on the cold morning of November 17, 2011, I was up early and began scrolling my Facebook feed only to find the news that Heather was in the hospital. In an instant everything changed.
It was a brain tumor.
It was cancer.
Very quickly it became obvious that she did not have much time left. For almost four months I was constantly checking Facebook to see the latest updates – the news that could go from good to bad and back again within a few hours.
I began to use Facebook’s private message feature to talk with Heather’s husband, Kevin, whom I had never met in person, about the possibility of Hillari and I coming to visit. In late January of 2012, Kevin sent me a message that said, “Come now.” Within forty-eight hours we were in the car making the thirteen-hour trip through terrible weather and over national borders to spend a total of six hours with our precious friend and “sister”.”
(Taken from Chapter One – Friend Request: How Mandy Met Social Media – in the book #ReformingSocialMedia.)
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