But my days had two starts. Each afternoon, around 4 o'clock, I would watch the little green buttons on my Facebook page flicker on, announcing that the sun had rolled its way westward, bringing dawn to my friends back home. "Good morning!" status updates would announce: "Ugh - Monday," or "TGIF!" I liked these morning broadcasts when my own day was almost done.
It was as if each day gave me two mornings: one Muslim, introspective, and penitent, the other Western, extroverted, and filled with familiar voices.
One morning recently, having moved back to Philadelphia, one of my status updates announced the passing of my grandmother. Like a surprising number of octogenarians these days, she happened to be on Facebook. When she was alive, we sent her messages wishing her well as she traveled the Silk Road, sometimes on a camel, sometimes sleeping in a yurt. I inherited my adventurous spirit from this woman, and she did have her adventures: Morocco, China, Kazakhstan, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, and many more. She always wanted to keep living and learning.
But her globe-trotting days came to an end, peacefully and with her family around her, squeezing her hands until the heart monitor blipped into a flat line. The rhythm stopped, and death delivered her to her next journey. We buried her ashes next to my grandfather, and my husband grabbed my waist, rocking me in a slow dance to soothe my tears. She would have liked that, I think, and a photo of it remains on my Facebook profile.
I guess I was never sure what happens to someone's Facebook profile after death. Is it deleted after falling into misuse? Does it just - blip - disappear? And where does it go? Many of us carefully cultivate our online personas, our avatars that live in the cloud and convey what we actively (or inactively) post into the universe. Do they cease to be, or do ripples of our activity move onward and outward into the abyss of time and space, like an old radio broadcast?
A few weeks ago, it was my grandmother's birthday. I was a little surprised to see that some family members had posted on her still-active Facebook wall, wishing her well and telling her they missed her. Glancing at the green lights on the side of the page, I wondered for a nanosecond if my grandmother's would be green. But she had had her share of mornings and birthdays. She was not available to chat, not anymore.
But she always did like to know what was happening in all our lives. Could Facebook be a conduit to those who have passed on, a way to direct our love and thoughts toward them? Perhaps the Facebook marketing team should have thought of that before the IPO.
Life as we know it may end, and green lights may turn permanently gray, but there may be something that lives on - our legacies, our Facebook pages - at least for a while. The faith that carries the muezzin's prayer to the ears of those around him is the same faith that tells us our loved ones are reading our messages and moving a cosmic cursor over to press "like."
Megan Ritchie is an academic adviser at the University of Pennsylvania and a freelance writer and photographer. E-mail: email@example.com.