Yesterday afternoon, I listened to a two-hour radio show dedicated to G, the father of my friend A (not her real initial), who died in December after fighting dementia. G loved to play and listen to music, so A’s aunt in Oregon used her weekly public radio show to air a playlist of songs her brother loved: lots of Chet Atkins, an occasional Willie Nelson tune, some Charlie Pride and a delightfully palate-cleansing Frank Yankovic, and a handful of songs from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.

It was a moving and joy-filled tribute to a man with many friends, and I woke this morning with “I’ll Fly Away” singing in my head. During the past three pandemic years, we’ve all become accustomed to creative ways to celebrate safe and socially-distanced milestone events, including drive-by birthday parties and too many CardMyYard displays to count.

At the height of pandemic lockdown, J and I attended our first (and so far only) Zoom wedding, a gathering in a Texas hotel ballroom with remote attendees in Pakistan, Qatar, and beyond. It was an event we wouldn’t have attended in any other context, but Zoom literally opened the ceremony to folks like us in far-flung places, giving us a chance to witness an otherwise private family event.

The week after G died, I “attended” his New York memorial service via Zoom, and I was grateful for the opportunity to be there virtually if not in person. Yesterday’s radio show felt similarly–and surprisingly–immediate. Although a radio playlist dedicated to G wasn’t a nod to pandemic protocol–I’m sure his sister would have dedicated a show to him even without a pandemic–the technologies we’ve become so accustomed to these past few years are a perfect way to gather far-flung friends and family in a shared act of remembrance.

Yesterday as I listened to an Oregon radio live stream on my phone here in eastern Massachusetts, I occasionally traded text comments and emoji with A in western Mass as we listened: not quite the same as being in the same room, but a way to share a real-time experience across the miles.