A few months ago, I received a Facebook friend request from someone I worked with 30 years ago. We weren't friends per se; we were work colleagues who hung out a few times together. I hadn't talked to him in decades.
I learned earlier this week that he has died. And I'm left with questions.
When I received the Facebook friend request from Frank, I deliberated. If I haven't talked to a former work colleague in 30 years, what was the point of connecting now, I wondered? Was he simply trying to grow his Facebook friend total? And what if he's one of those extremely chatty Facebook people who fill up their friends' news feeds with endless minutiae? I know that you can hide posts from people, but still.
And yet, I was intrigued. Frank's Facebook page said he was living in Cuenca, Ecuador. How did he wind up there, I wondered? Why was he there?
I couldn't decide what to do at that moment, so I took no action. I would decide later, I thought. Later has turned into "too late," as it often does.
I feel a twinge of guilt. Did Frank feel rejected by my inaction? More than that, however, I feel regret. What might have happened had I accepted his friend request? I might have learned something from him, he might have learned something from me. We might have connected in a deeper, more meaningful way than we did 30 years ago. People can change a lot in 30 years.
On the other hand, none of that might have happened. I'll never know, because I took no action. I can take comfort, however, in the words of a mutual colleague from 30 years, who sent me this message after I asked him about Frank's death:
"Frank had been living all over the past 10 or so years – in California, in Mexico, in Arizona, and as of a few months ago, in this beautiful small city in Ecuador. Apparently he was very happy there. So he took his leave in a fine state of mind."
A question for you: How do you respond to Facebook friend requests from people you didn't know all that well and haven't seen in years? Do you have a story to share about your acceptance, or rejection, of that friend request?