This week someone I knew died. I heard about her death on my Facebook newsfeed in the form of the many condolences sent to her husband. She was young, thirty-two. I read all the messages and while doing so wondered if her profile page was still up. It seemed surreal that it might be, existing still in cyberspace, immune to real life events, as if this was just another ordinary day. I was a bit suspicious of my motives before bringing up her page. It seemed a morbid kind of curiosity working within me. I expected her page to be like a dark abandoned house at night – a place of cold draughts entering through broken windows, foreboding creaks and hollow echoes in its frame, eerie shadows moving over walls. I was prepared to be weirded out.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. Her page was radiant with love and light. There were about two hundred messages addressed to her ghost, there were songs, poems, memories and thanks. Before Alba had died as a brutal startling fact; now after spending time on her profile page she died as a living ongoing feeling – she was brought back to life as an abiding memory – the purpose surely of every funeral service. There was a desire for her to read all the tributes addressed to her. It came as a shock how much deep feeling, how much sorrowful poetry was produced by a Facebook profile, as if it were a kind of casket full of poignant mementoes of Alba’s life.