On June, 14th

I wake up to Google’s reminder as if I’d forget
we were meant to celebrate your birthday, today.

For the first time, since you’ve been gone —
I approach your Facebook page, I don’t know why.
Perhaps like a holy grave, I hope to find you there.

Whatever trepidation I brought with me vanishes
as I take pity on the person, who is not aware you
don’t speak the language of the living, anymore.

Though sad, I’m grateful I don’t do social media
birthdays, anymore. Instead I turn to WhatsApp,
an archive, where I reread our last conversation.

“Lol!” is how both our last lines end, I cannot help
but smile at the absurdity of it all. Only God knows
how long I’ll hold on to our private conversations!

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and blogger. Her blog focuses on poetry and creative nonfiction, and also features poets and their books.

29 Comments

  1. It’s hard to go back to chat archives and social media trails… I can’t even bring myself to delete numbers from my contacts list…years later.

  2. Hugs to you Khaya 💜. Birthdays and anniversaries are hard. I still have the phone numbers of my six dead friends in my phone, and I’ve digitized recordings of their voice-mail messages. May you find some comfort in happy memories of your dear sister-friend.

  3. So sorry for your loss, Khaya, but I love it that your last lines to each other were “LOL.” That’s a lovely way to say goodbye on social media. <3 <3

  4. Oh Khaya, such memories are so hard to revisit sometimes, but it gives you a sense of comfort, knowing that even with that last communication, it is one with fond memories. Your poem is a beautiful ode to your relationship. Thank you for sharing such a touching and emotional moment with us my friend. 🙏🏼😊🦋🤗🌺

  5. Sending you gentle hugs, my dear Khaya. I know how hard this can be, especially while is this fresh.

    I love that you can still laugh (and probably cry) at your old exchanges–even if bittersweet, memories are a great gift to have.

  6. I can only imagine how tough that is; to have your friend take her life a week before her birthday. Thank you JYP for relating and support. Sending comfort and peace right back at you. <3

  7. Though death is inevitable, it is still hard to contend with and especially, when it hits so close. Thank you, Natalie. I wish you peace and comfort as well. <3

  8. Sometimes I’m angry at all the things we didn’t get to do together or say to each other, in those last months. But I’m grateful for that “Lol!” too. Because when you’ve been friends with someone for almost 30 years, you’ve probably said all that you should have. Thank you Diana for your support. <3

  9. Your kind comment means a lot to me Kym. It’s a big risk being ‘too vulnerable’ as sometimes I feel with some of my poems. But if a few people can relate and find comfort from them, I’m grateful for that, too. Thank you so much, girl! <3

  10. I wrap myself tightly with your gentle hugs, Maga. Thank you so much for being there for me, I appreciate this a lot. And yes, these bittersweet memories are a great gift. <3

  11. I agree with you 100% Khaya. Vulnerability isn’t always a sign of weakness but a sign of cleansing. 🙏🏼 You are not whining, which is different, you are showing sensitivity and the experience of what loss feels like and means. Yes, we can relate to your emotions, and thanks so much for sharing such authenticity my friend. Enjoy the rest of your evening my dear. 😍💖🤩

  12. I visited text chains from my friend who passed away, and even went to her social media sites too on her birthday and the anniversary of her death. Her birthday is coming up again soon, so I know I’ll pay a virtual visit again. It’s hard to say what touchstones we’ll have when we grieve, but anything that brings comfort is a blessing. I’m glad you were able to connect to reminders of your dear friend that felt special to you.

  13. It is hard indeed to say what touchstones… I’m still of two minds about these virtual tombstones as they evoke a sense of great sadness (a perpetual reminder of what is lost) but also joy to return to, somehow. But as you’ve put it, anything that brings comfort is a blessing. Thank you so much, Rommy. You are in my thoughts too for the upcoming birthday of your dear friend. I hope you find peace and comfort as you celebrate her life. <3 <3

  14. Khaya, a personal and tender poem capturing the long-lasting social media presence of those no longer with us. It must have taken courage to visit your friend’s FB page, surreal, I imagine. Bless those final chat of LOL – treasure all the messages. I feel those would be the equivalent of keeping precious letters between friends. Sending you love & hugs ❤️

  15. Annika you mention something I haven’t thought about, the digital and private chats as equivalent of keeping precious letters between friends. I like this a lot, thank you for this fresh perspective. Thank you so much my friend and I appreciate your visit, always. Sending love and hugs your way, too. <3

  16. I am, again, so sorry for your loss. Sending you love in your grieving.

    But this post is complex. Our grief has become digital. So much of our relationships are preserved online. Virtual memorials. Moments we can visit forever in our pockets. It is all very different than the physical trinkets we used to keep.

Do leave a trace!

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