To me, paying a visit to Facebook is like going to a big noisy wake, but with nobody dead, and, instead, just this lively crowd of people all visiting away with each other on the porch.

With its half billion members, Facebook would be the world’s third largest country –– if it were a country. It’s a beloved country to me.


To me, paying a visit to Facebook is like going to a big noisy wake, but with nobody dead, and, instead, just this lively crowd of people all visiting away with each other on the porch.


In fact, let me step off that friendly porch and say, to me, Facebook is like the Afterlife. There you are once again, reunited with everyone you ever knew. There, you can resolve unfinished business and smooth over old hurts.


Here are two stories, both with pretend names substituted for the real ones:


In my first career as a high school English teacher, I had a student in the Accelerated Junior English class. I’ll call him Tommy. A full year after he stepped out of room 334 for the last time, he told me that he felt I had paid less attention to him than I had paid to others in the class.


I remember how awful I felt hearing that, and I apologized sincerely if that really seemed to be the case. Then — in a twinkling — more than 30 years passed, the way years will do, and I saw in the paper his mother’s obituary, which revealed the fact that he now lived in France together with his partner.


I couldn’t find Tom himself on Facebook, but I did find his partner and asked him to pass on my words of condolence over the loss of Tommy’s mother, whom I remembered from many a Parents’ Night.


In a few weeks, Tom wrote me back, and last summer, he and his partner, on a trip to the states, came to my house for tea. We had a terrific visit, at the very end of which I again said I was sorry for the fact that he had ever once felt less than totally noticed and celebrated by his callow young teacher.


He had absolutely no memory of having felt that way, much less of having said something to me. Was I off the hook then? If so, it was thanks to Facebook, which allowed me to let go of more than three decades of self blame.


And Facebook also gets the credit for doing the opposite: Holding my feet to the fire when it came to a far older incident.


A boy I went to middle school with “friended” me, and for a year or more, we kept in a light kind of touch, writing a word back and forth every few months until the day he metaphorically cleared his throat, so to speak, and wrote this:


“I just have to ask: Why did you always laugh every time I had to stand up in math class?”


“I did that?” I wrote back. “Ralph, I have no memory of doing that.”


And he wrote again: “Well you did, every time.”


I really didn’t remember –– until, suddenly, I remembered. I did laugh at Ralph because his bottom seemed to me to be so much bigger than the other boys’ bottoms.


I certainly couldn’t say that, so I just apologized generally, explaining that I was doubtless laughing at others to take the focus off myself with my hand-me-down clothes and my bangs so curly they kept rolling up like window shades.


I hope he has forgiven me now. If so, it’s largely thanks to Facebook, which showed me that it’s never too late for a person to reach out and bless or affirm or forgive another, as long as you’re both still living.


Write Terry c/o of Ravenscroft, P.O. Box 270, Winchester MA 01890, or at Terrymarotta@verizon.net   or at her daily web log Exit Only at www.terrymarotta.wordpress.com http://www.terrymarotta.wordpress.com>