When a dead friend pokes you on Facebook

March 8, 2011

I miss Granville. He’s one of those friends that, when he died, I didn’t fully appreciate what a hole he was going to leave in my life.

Granville was one of those people who grabbed onto you and refused to let go. Sometimes it felt like smothering, especially since he became an education source for me when I started writing for the Voice. While working on the whites in the front door, blacks in the back door story, he was both invaluable and a nuisance. He wouldn’t leave me alone, which is both a blessing and a curse for a writer.

But more importantly, he was my friend, an old dear soul I met at Middle Church in the days before Jacqui Lewis had driven all of my friends away. I was the recipient of his advice, sought after and not, and of his great bear hugs.

I was touched to have his ear, and to have him push me to write about education. I got to hear him tell me that, when he read my story, it was proof that he’d done something with his life, that he’d be remembered for having done something. He told me he had heart problems, and I thought he was being hyperbolic, as he often was. He’d call me late at night, and I’d usually call him back the next day. If I didn’t call first thing in the morning, he’d email my editor and ask if I was alright. He’d poke me on Facebook.

And then, he died.

I hadn’t a clue right away how much I was going to miss that man. At his funeral, I met several women who’d interacted with him on the education scene. Two told me they were insulted that he’d pushed them to get involved, they ran for office, and now he’d abandoned them. I felt the same way. We’ve been in touch ever since.

But I’ve also been shocked at how often I think of him, and wonder what he’d think of something. We didn’t talk that often, prior to the last two months of this life. But maybe because we were in such a routine when he passed, I will be bound to feel it missing for my remaining days?

And still on my Facebook homepage, there is his poke request, mocking me. I’ve never returned anyone’s poke, living or dead. I don’t know what it is, frankly. But to see it from a dead friend makes me sorry I didn’t communicate more with him, and regret that I wasn’t a better friend. I guess I will bear this forever, unless I answer it.

But I don’t want to. As long as his request to poke me from before the grave sits there, he’s not really gone. We’ll talk offline from Facebook, the next time we share gossip about the Great Education Wars of New York City.

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