I Learned My Friend Passed Away on Facebook

Social media is an amazing way to share information very quickly. You would think I’d be used to it by now as I spend a good chunk of time on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. However, it caught me off guard last week.

As I was scrolling through my newsfeed, I read a sad post by my friend, Josh, talking about how much he was going to miss Deacon Floyd.

I worked with Deacon Floyd for 7 years, during my time as the IT Director for the Amarillo Diocese, and he just had something contagious about him. He was usually one of the first people I saw every morning and he had the best laugh and some great stories. You see, I was one of the youngest people in the office. Even though I was really young and inexperienced, he treated me with the utmost respect. He was also one of the first people to take a genuine interest in my photography.

At the time, I loved taking pictures of cars, bugs, and pretty much whatever. While he liked my photos, he said something that really got my wheels turning.

“Joe, these are good photos, but are people going to remember them in 20, 50, or 100 years?” he asked.

The question caught me off guard, but it changed the way I looked at photography. Never take for-granted the impact that you can have on someone’s life. Deacon Floyd sure had a big one in my life.

Back to Facebook. I always thought that I’d be upset if I found out a friend died through social media, but I wasn’t when I read Josh’s post about Deacon Floyd. I almost couldn’t believe it, especially since I had just received and email from Deacon a few days prior.  I don’t live in Amarillo anymore and my wife and I are 9.5 hours away. Social media helped me with the grieving process and I felt in the loop with what was going on in Amarillo even though I was unable to return for his funeral.

He never let me live down the time I drove up to the office with a bike rack on my truck. He just didn’t understand why I couldn’t put it in the bed of the pick-up.

“Something ain’t right with you boy,” he said.

Then he’d just leaned back in his chair and laughed. For the next few years, if we ever disagreed on anything, he would just bring up this story for the win.

Never miss an opportunity to take a photo with your loved ones. The photo above almost didn’t exist. I was photographing his grand-daughters senior pictures and saw him and Susie just laughing away at something. I’m so glad I was able to capture that moment.

My heart and prayers go out to his family and wife, Susie, as they adjust without him. Deacon Floyd Ashley helped me look at photography differently, but more importantly, he was a great friend and mentor to me for the past 9 years.