Wednesday, March 16, 2016


I did something yesterday that I haven't done since I started journaling about my cancer. I went through all of the posts in my CaringBridge journal, and checked to see who had "hearted" each post. That's CaringBridge's version of "liking" a post. I've now posted 80 times, so this took a while. It was incredibly encouraging.

It's nice to know that people enjoyed a post that I've written, but what means more to me is just being able to see who was there each time.

That simple act of encouragement that takes less than a second can be very meaningful to the person who receives it. My favorite emoji these days is the heart. It expresses how I feel about so many people and things. If there's an overflowing heart emoji out there, I'd like to find it.

At the bottom of each journal post, CaringBridge shows you how many people have hearted the post, like Facebook does with likes. I don't know why I had never, until yesterday, noticed that, also like Facebook, when you select that text, it shows you who it was who "hearted." But I found that feature yesterday, and learned something about my family and friends.

I found that one friend, a guy I haven't seen or talked to for years, has hearted almost every single post since I started. I emailed him yesterday to thank him. I hope his email address is still good, because I can't find you on Facebook, Dave. Thanks so much for your presence here.

I found that another friend has hearted almost every post since the one about my dog's surgery back in January. I texted her to thank her, and her reply made me feel very loved. I mean hearted.

Sometimes when we're on social media, it seems like an emoji is the cheap, easy way to express support without really going to any bother. Same with "liking" and "hearting." But to the person receiving that token, it means a lot. It means a lot to me, as long as I understand what the emoji is. There are way too many, and I don't understand what most of them mean. It's terrible when you have to get your reading glasses to see an emoji, and then you don't know what it means anyway.

I also discovered something on my Facebook page yesterday. A few weeks ago, I had over 1,000 friends on Facebook. Today I have 961. Of course, they're not all real friends. In fact, I don't know the vast majority personally. Most of my Facebook "friends" are more like networking contacts or fans. So how did I lose that many "friends" so fast? I think I lost around 100. I've been unfriended by that many people in the past two weeks or so.

I have only one explanation. That's when I started promoting this blog on Facebook. Apparently there are that many people who don't want to see this in their newsfeed. To the point where they not only unfollowed me, but unfriended me. But I have no room to complain. I've unfriended a few people recently myself.

By the way, aren't we all glad that Facebook doesn't let people know when we unfriend them? I'm even more glad that I didn't get 100 unfriend notifications in the past two weeks. That might have dampened my spirits.

But as I keep saying, in times like these, you find out who your friends are. And who they aren't. Your friends are the ones who heart you. The ones who unfriend you in your time of need were never your friends to begin with.

Of course, I've also received several friend requests in the past few weeks.  I've lost some fake friends, but gained some real ones.

As analytical as I tend to be, I'm very tempted to go into a whole treatise about why the heart is used as a symbol of love. That might be interesting to three people. I only know that when we talk giving our heart to someone, or getting our heart broken, or home being where the heart is, we're not talking about the physical organ that pumps our blood. We're talking about the center of our being. That thing that makes us who we are.

Personally, as a science guy, I know that that's actually the brain. All of our thoughts, emotions, likes, dislikes, memories, everything that makes us who we are comes from the brain. But a brain emoji wouldn't have the same impact, would it?

We'd all rather be hearted than unfriended. I finally realize how hearted I am, even while a few unfriend me. I can't thank you enough for all the hearts. I feel very hearted.

Starting this Sunday and going through Easter, my posts will have a decided Holy Week slant. As with every season and holiday since my diagnosis, Easter has added meaning for me this year. The whole idea of death being swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54) is very appealing right now.

But it's Jesus' suffering during that week that I identify most with this year. I have a feeling that, in the coming years, however many there may be for me, that will become increasingly true. So starting this Sunday, Palm Sunday, I want to try to address what Jesus was going through during his final week on earth, and compare it to what my week is like. I think if I do that, I'll feel better about my week. Maybe we should all do that.

The act of love that he committed that week cost him infinitely more than clicking on a heart icon. He showed us how much we all are hearted.

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