Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond
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An Open Letter to My Sister Who Accepted My Friendship Request On Facebook Sixteen Months After She Died.
BY Jeannie Zusy
When I woke up to the notification that said that you had finally accepted my friend request, I simply said, “Oh.” Then I went to your wall and wrote, “Annie, how I miss you so. How are you, wherever you are…?” It was disappointing because there was no picture of you there—just that goofy silhouette Facebook uses. It certainly doesn’t look like you.
I called Eliza, who I remembered had access to your account, to see if she had gone to your page and accepted your pending friendship requests. She hadn’t, and she couldn’t even access it anymore. And it seems Facebook has no way to close the account of the deceased.
Once I got the kids off to school, I checked Facebook again, hoping for another notification indicating that you had responded. You hadn’t, so I went back to your wall. There were other comments from other newly accepted “friends” saying things like, “This is very upsetting, Someone has hacked her account. I will contact her family to have them put a stop to this.” Another person wrote, “This good woman has been dead over a year.” I was still upset you hadn’t put up your picture. I decided to delete my comment, as it was out of sync with the other comments, and I, being family, looked foolish there “writing” to you. That’s too bad because I wanted to write more.
That’s why I’m writing this letter now, in hopes that it will get published on the Internet and that way it will reach you out there, up there, wherever you and the lost emails go.
I remember talking with you less than two years ago about my reluctance to join Facebook, and about how you already had but never went on it. I ended up joining so I could “friend” my now teenager, and I was starting to find it quite fun. I teased you because you hadn’t accepted my friendship request. You swore you were just too busy. I remember telling you that I thought you would enjoy it—connecting with so many people from so many parts of your life. You said that maybe when you were feeling better you would join. And you also confessed that you really didn’t know how to negotiate the whole thing.
So in a way, I was somewhat amused, seeing how you had finally figured it out. Your lack of techno savvy was something we joked about. Recently, the family and I discovered an old book of poems that you wrote when you were sixteen. One of them ended with you talking about how when your time comes, you expected to be swirling, whirling out in the stratosphere. The Internet is something like that, isn’t it?
I still go to your wall a couple of times a week, just to check in, see if there’s anything new. I thought about posting a picture, the one you sent me for Valentine’s Day just a short while before you died: a small black and white of you as a teenager with a ’60s hairdo, with me, a young child, leaning back against you. I’ve thought about writing on your wall, mostly to say how much I miss you, and how I hope you are okay, and to reassure you that your kids are okay.
Seems the only way to stop my what some might call unhealthy habit, would be to “unfriend” you, but that’s just too sad. I can’t bring myself to unfriend you, I’ve tried, and I just can’t. And also, the truth is, I’m glad that when I look at my list of Facebook friends, you’re still here.
Sending you much, much love, my dear, dear sister Annie. Wherever you are, I hope you are at peace.
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