My dear friend Mitzi recently wrote about a night that greatly impacted her family’s life. I am very glad that she shared it with her readers because it’s opened the door for me to share something similar. I have felt like an emotional wreck this last week but I have come to realize the only person being beat up is me. And it took the woman I have been fighting for to point it out to me.
I met Lisa in junior high. We were never friends outside school, but always had classes together. She was also a band geek and I was in choir, so our paths always crossed. After high school we reconnected on Facebook, just like every one else does. She is married, still lives in Florida, and has a girl and a boy of elementary school ages.
I started to notice the status updates she would post about her children. They weren’t nice. They would make her friends that interacted with her become very concerned about their well being. One post that sticks out in my mind was about her daughter who is about seven years old. Lisa posted that her daughter was missing…did not answer to calls of her name…frantically trying to locate her. She was in obvious distress. My first thought was to question why she would take the time to post something so desperate on FB. “Hey everyone, I’m being robbed! I hope he doesn’t take my flat screen tv!” Turns out the daughter was just hiding under her bed. Meanwhile her friends were flipping out and ready to launch a search party. But no biggie! I viewed her posts like the boy who cried wolf. Why would you write such awful things about your children?
I won’t elaborate on the whats and whys because I do not know the details of what happened. But one day near the end of last month, her five year old son fell off a diving board and was airlifted to the nearest hospital. I know this much is true because she posted so on the way to the hospital. But was she making the situation to be more than what is was, as was her history to do? I didn’t know she was the praying type, but she would post positive updates about him and ask for prayers. About a week later they decided to take him off life support. I read a copy of the family’s press release (really, a press release?) posted on FB by a mutual school friend.
I had talked to Chris about this before their final outcome because her behavior had been bugging me. Admittedly I do not know her now because I haven’t set eyes on her since graduation. I don’t know her personality nor how she acts day to day. He suggested she might just need attention. I accepted that answer. A couple days later I had to tell him, weeping, that her son had died. It hit me hard. We talked about the thought of losing Riley. We talked about the people we knew that lost their children; my great grandmother lost two, my mom, his mom, his sister, our friend Leslie, and for what it’s worth, my three miscarriages.
Here is when I started to be angry, upset, and I’m sure you will tell me, very judgmental. Hours later she posted how it was a miracle to be able to donate certain organs of his. I read this and my stomach instantly got that sick feeling. I couldn’t believe that she seemed to care more about his organs than his life! Her son just died and she can still function enough to post on Facebook?!?!?!? The posts just kept getting better. A great night out at their favorite restaurant…preferring to eat only one brand of sub sandwich…angry at husband for scheduling Time Warner out to fix their internet without checking if she had plans that day. Her friends were posting condolences yet she was well over her loss in two days. My favorite was the picture of the emergency helicopter bill…a one way ticket for a twelve mile ride, lol! No, I don’t find it funny at all.
I felt her behavior after her son died was a slap in the face to anyone who’s child has passed on before them. My friend Leslie lost her year old daughter over five years ago and she’s still suffering. This woman actively contemplated suicide because she felt she let her family down by not being able to fix her daughter’s disease. I wanted to stand up for her and fight. How dare Lisa act like this is no big deal? How cold is her heart? All I could think about was how hurt Leslie would be if she knew how quickly Lisa got on with her life. I imagined the pain I would feel if Riley was taken from me…I wouldn’t want to live either. I remembered Grandmother Katherine speaking to me about losing her third child at age three…then losing the fourth child doctors said she never could have over 30 years later. My mother in law said she didn’t want to leave the hospital bed where she was getting treatment for 2nd degree burns after being told her two year old son perished in their house fire. My mother and sister in law both had stillborns before their next successful births. All of them carry that connecting pain that Lisa doesn’t seem to have.
With each post I got angrier and angrier. I finally had to call Leslie and tell her what my feelings were. She needed to be as outraged as I was! She promptly and directly told me I was being too judgmental…I didn’t know the whole story, neither did I know how she and her family deals with pain and trauma. Each person grieves in his or her own way and moving on in her Facebook posts doesn’t necessarily mean she’s moved on in real life. Leslie learned one important lesson with her daughter’s death. Life DOES and SHOULD go on or else you are diminishing God’s gift of Everlasting Life. She said her sister yelled at her about her thoughts of suicide, “Do you really think you’re going to see Chloé when you’re denying that God is Life? You’ll be surrounded by darkness until you realize that God is Good and the only Life.” How utterly true. For my negative thoughts towards Lisa, I apologize.
The news of the death of my friend’s son stirred up some buried feelings for me. I would give birth naturally again 100 times over than go through the physical and mental anguish of another miscarry. And I wouldn’t wish the death of a child on my worst enemy. I know the scars that remain. But who am I to say how someone should act? I likely should shut up now but I won’t! This is a current malaise on our society, an obsession to share every detail of our lives with strangers. Including personal family issues that should be kept private. And I’m not talking about blogging with a purpose that many of us have. If Lisa has to show the world that losing a child makes her stronger, I think she’s doing herself and her family a huge disservice. I would do anything to bring back the child my mom lost and I hope Lisa feels the same way about herself.