Sometimes we think ghosts visit us from the paranormal world. But the cyber world has spirits of its own.
One of them is Darcy Pohland, and though she died March 5...she haunts her friends via Facebook.
Darcy's death was big news in Minnesota. After all, she'd led an amazing life.
A quadriplegic after a diving accident, she graduated with a degree in journalism and got a job on the WCCO-TV assignment desk. But her dream had always been to be a television reporter, so she pushed for an on air role, and a gutsy news director gave her a break. So from a wheelchair, Darcy covered the news for fifteen years. Not just with accuracy, but with enthusiasm. And Minnesota fell in love with her.
Since her death, Facebook has frequently flashed Darcy's picture on my home page, with one of those suggestions to keep in touch, urging me to reconnect with her. If only I could.
She died in her sleep, at age 48, from a ruptured artery related to a stomach ulcer. The rest of us would have been in so much pain we would have headed straight to the ER. But Darcy didn't feel the pain, or realize she was slowly bleeding to death internally. She just felt tired. And that was understandable because her mother had died a few weeks earlier.
Last month I clicked on another friend's Facebook page to post birthday greetings to him and saw that Darcy had gotten there first with a Facebook birthday card. The same thing happened last week. She'd apparently programmed her account to send cards to all her friends. I'd received one earlier this year myself, and thought, how nice to hear from Darcy on my birthday. But she was alive then, so it didn't seem the miracle it does today.
Her Facebook page is a cyber salute to her life. The bio on her information page is an obituary written by the deceased. Her take on her life.
Her profile page became a memorial site where friends still post messages. "Here's thinking of ya, Darcy." "Have fun up there, girl." "You would have loved the new Twins stadium!" They discuss how her smile is missed, and what a hero she was to others.
While Facebook is taking heat for privacy concerns, being a time suck, and keeping embarrassing moments in cyberspace forever...keep in mind, it can offer comfort to those suffering tragedy and alternative ways for us to grieve.
Darcy and I weren't just Facebook friends, we worked together in news for 15 years. Her birthday is June 9, and I suspect by day's end, hundreds of birthday messages will be on her profile page, from friends trying to reconnect and answer the question: Is there Facebook in heaven?