Maile weeks ago, Maile, a friend from high school, posted a rather cryptic Facebook update. Then a rather shocking link: an Amber Alert on her son, Max. He was last seen with his dad, Conrad, on his way to school that Friday morning. She was afraid that Conrad was suicidal, but didn’t believe that he would hurt Max. Nonetheless, they were missing. She asked us to spread the word.

It went out like wildfire. We all posted it in our updates and those of us that have blogs posted there, also. Within a few hours, we had word. Her Facebook update read:

thanks to all. they are dead.

Their car was found at the bottom of a ravine.

Of course, there are no words. We all know there are no words. But Maile is a writer. Certainly at heart and sometimes by trade – the link to the left is the book she wrote a couple of years ago. So the first time I “spoke” to her, it was to offer condolences. Pretty weak since I hadn’t met her husband or her son. I haven’t seen her since high school. In the second note, I said that I enjoyed the stories about Max on her blog and I hoped she would keep writing.

She didn’t need me to tell her.

She has been posting nearly every day. It is raw and honest and vivid and heartbreaking. Like the day before the interment, she said:

“…Like I’m heading toward a terrible, long-lasting catharsis, like I’m falling off a cliff and it’s such a long way down I can look down and think, “Wow . . . this is really going to hurt.” And I’m stuck in that terrifying freefall, but it’s slow, a slow fall every day. Just a little further down, a little closer to the bottom, a little worse. And while everyone tells me how brave I am, the fear accompanying the part of me spiraling downhill grows each day.”

Maile’s blog feels a bit like reading The Year of Magical Thinking – in real time. In Didion’s book, we know that she survived. We know that things got worse before they ever got better. We know that now. I imagine that it is like living in a fog in that there moments when it is so thick you are afraid to move and moments when it breaks up and you can see things very clearly. And maybe breathe.

Maile felt, feels, all sorts of people reaching out to her. Some, like Lara, physically going to be with her. Some, like me, on the WiFi and cheering her on every day. She made this observation:

“We lose touch with people so easily when things are the status quo. When they’re shaken up, it’s like a jar of jelly beans, and suddenly I’m right up next to someone that I wasn’t close to at all before.”
I don’t know how long it takes. I don’t think she will ever be, or should ever be the same again. But I know this person, this lady writing her way through it, impresses the hell out of me and I am proud to know her.

So why am I telling you this? First, because it’s been sitting in my head for three weeks. Second, because I think you should read this blog. But also, I wanted to write down before God and my mother that Facebook can do some profound things. When you ask it nicely. (Now go fix your Privacy Settings.)

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