by Rebecca Armendariz
My reminders of Clark, who died nearly three years ago, are still visible, but as my life adjusts to a world without him, I’ve moved a few things so they’re a bit more out of the way. Instead of keeping my favorite photo of us right by my bedside, I’ve put it on the bookshelf on the opposite wall, angled so I don’t face it head-on every time I’m in my room. And that’s fine, to create nooks for my keepsakes, though it took me a while to get over the guilt I felt for removing them from the front lines.
My therapist taught me that it’s okay to take my grief out of the spotlight and make space for it somewhere in the back. She’s used, on multiple occasions, an anecdote about an older man who lost his wife. After about a year, he was ready to start dating again, but he was still sleeping in the bedding he’d shared with her. So he tied the comforter in a big box and secured it with a silky ribbon. He put the wrapped package on the top shelf of his closet, visible only when the doors were open, a special present in its designated place.
When Clark died, I also had to make technological adjustments. After a few months, I changed my Facebook settings to show no relationship status, which broke the connection between his and my accounts. His read “in a relationship,” but it was no longer linked to me, which deepened the wound in my heart. For a while, Facebook kept using the inch of space in the upper right corner of the page to suggest to me and those that knew Clark to reconnect with him. Because don’t you know, it’s been a while, it said. After a few years without activity, Facebook removed Clark’s profile photo and replaced it with the eerie question mark/silhouette. Some have told me it weirds them out, but I’m not going to go in there, upload a new photo, and risk it showing up in someone’s feed and shaking them for the day. Sometimes people write on his wall, and if I’m not prepared, I’m thrown.
This week, I enabled Timeline on my Facebook account. Some of these features seem okay. I’ve changed my settings to ensure that some joker can’t just tag me in a note about something dumb; I have to approve it first. And I can hide my timeline from the general public if I play around with my privacy settings.
Facebook tokens from the past, all memorialized on the Timeline, are bad enough. A girl I had a falling out with after college thought it was “unacceptable” that we were apart in 2004. Another wrote that my “vaginal wall is the reason for the season” a year later. In 2006, my now-roommate told me she’d “make me a poon sandwich.” I can chalk these things up to college ridiculousness, roll my eyes at myself, and move right along.
But in 2007, Clark and I dressed up for Halloween, and in 2008 we had margaritas, went to concerts, and watched Project Runway. He got Facebook for the first time on March 27, 2008, which I know because the moment we became friends is on my Timeline.
I’d worked hard to make space for all this stuff; it lived in Facebook’s deep recesses, available only if I wished to click through the mountains of photos I’m tagged in or deliberately visit his page. But now these things have crawled where there’s no room for them anymore, and I just wish they’d go away.
Rebecca Armendariz is a writer based in Washington, D.C., and is currently working on a book.