Friday, April 2, 2010

An Electronic Embrace

There is a ton of crap on the Internet. We've all glossed over inane postings on Facebook: "OMG! My dog just barfed all over the kitchen floor."


It is odd that we are all more connected than ever before, but much less connected at the same time. So, it came as a surprise, even to me, that the other day, I reached out and actually made a connection with a woman whom I barely know over Facebook.

It all started when I slipped on my gray Georgetown t-shirt from 1990. It's as thin as paper and as soft as a baby's blanket. I bought it for a friend who loved Georgetown basketball. A friend who passed away way too soon, at the age of 16. I bought the t-shirt to remember him.

In the past 20 years of traveling, gallivanting through college, moving a dozen times, giving away heaps of clothing to good will, I refused to part with "Matthew's" t-shirt. It would have been like parting with a cherished friend. And because I remember my cherished friend every time I slip into this t-shirt, I decided to reach out to his mother.

I composed an email to her, telling her that I have never forgotten her son, his heart and his spirit. I was nervous that my note might dredge up painful memories of the car accident that stole her son. But I took a chance.

And she wrote back, thrilled to hear from me. She was kind enough to congratulate me on the birth of my own son. We exchanged a few more messages and decided we would meet next time she's in Philly.

And then something else amazing happened. I received an email from Matthew's niece, who was born 7 days before he passed away. I provided some funny and poignant memories about her uncle whom she never had the opportunity to meet. I told her how he was a basketball star in school and camp and he had the nickname, "Magic." I told her how he and I commiserated in 9th grade biology class together and how we loved rap music and Camp Akiba. I told her how Matthew had taken his allowance money and bought basketball sneakers for a teammate who could not afford them. I told her how he was a caring friend, a sweetheart, a person whom everyone loved.

It was so simple to reach out over the Internet. It was so refreshing to send messages that actually meant something to me and to the recipients. It was as easy as slipping on my Georgetown t-shirt and imagining the warm embrace of my friend.

If any of you who happen upon this blog would take 1 minute out of your day to post a comment or memory about Matthew Greenburg (if you knew him), that would be fantastic. We could send his family a gigantic electronic embrace. I don't think there is any better use of modern technology than to reach out and send some love. And, we all know, what goes around, comes around.

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