When Ted got home from work yesterday, I was on the couch watching "Steel Magnolias".  Remember that one?  Julia Roberts is the daughter of Sally Field and at the end of the movie she dies.  Her family has to make the decision to take her off life support when it becomes clear that she isn't going to make it.  This is, of course, what happened with Max.  Ted and I and our parents sat in a room and decided at what time we would disconnect Max from the machine that kept him breathing.  We had to sign papers, everyone said their goodbyes at the designated time and then Ted and I were left in the room with our rabbi for our last moments with our son.  I go over these moments in my head nearly every day.  Watching my child take his last breath is something that will be with me until I take mine.  Just as Ted was pulling up to the house, came the part of the movie I was waiting for ....where Sally Field melts down after the funeral.  Her well meaning friends come over to her to tell her how lovely she looks and how beautiful the flowers and the service were and one friend pontificates about how nice it is that her daughter is now with Jesus.  This is sort of the famous scene, where Sally Field yells that she wants her daughter back.  Why did it have to happen to her?  And, how ANGRY she angry she wants to hit someone so that they can know the pain that she is in.  In real life, this rant would be repeated on a daily basis for many months and possibly years to come.  I DO wish that someone knew and felt my pain.  I don't wish it on anyone specific but I wish it....and that probably makes me a terrible person and I am not sure I give a rat's ass.  Especially because I am fairly sure that nobody that I know does or will feel this pain.  Lucky me .... it is uniquely mine!
Anyway, as Ted approached the house, I quickly changed the channel.  I didn't want him to say, "Do you really think you should be watching this?"  I didn't choose a new program.  It chose us.  It was one of those countdown clip programs with the comedians in between.  It was called something like, "America's top 10 most hated people" or something.  Ok - so here is my problem (one of MANY) with the society that we live in.  It is pretty much summed up in this program.  The list was made up of individuals like Howard Stern, Levi  Johnston and Paris Hilton.  But, OJ Simpson was number 4.  Number 4?  A man that most people believe committed a double homicide was number 4?  Ted and I were appalled.  Who could possibly be on the list in a more hated position?  Spencer Pratt...number 2.  This tool from a reality show that probably less than 2 percent of the population watches BEAT OJ Simpson?  A man who murdered the mother of his children?  Number 1 was Casey Anthony.  But, like, what kind of a world do we live in where murderers appear on the same list as a comedian (Stern) that is sort of controversial (frankly, I find Howard Stern to be a complete narcissist but is that as hateable as being a murderer?)  Do we have such little regard for human life that a murderer would not be in a category of their own?  I could see Anthony and Simpson being on the same list for "Top Ten most hated murderers", but this was like a list of "celebrities".  Which brings me to the next issue - why do we make celebrities out of murderers (Anthony)?  Maybe I am being inarticulate here but is seems like human life is just one more commodity to sell on television.  While I was pregnant with Max, I was addicted to those True Crime shows.  The ones where the same guy is the narrator about the horrific stories of spouses chopping each other into small pieces after finding out about affairs and other such jealous nonsense.  I stopped watching them when Max was born because frankly, they scared me...but also because human life is sacred.  I am not sure that the demise of human life should be the stuff that we make cheesy generic television shows about.  Regardless, it is almost no wonder that the common response to the death of a baby is "Get back out there!  Put one foot in front of the other!  When are you going to get over this?"  Death is just something we watch on TV.  It isn't something we get close to.  It is something that we hope goes away after the funeral.  Sally Field makes her big speech, screams at god, "Why have you done this to me", and then her friend makes a silly joke and the rant is over.  The rant is over because that is all we can take.  And if Sally Field was to continue her rant, believe me, one of those friends would think, "why is she yelling at me?"  Our anger is something that others like to take if it has anything to do with anything other than the pain and misery of our own loss.  We are a somewhat self centered society and we are all screwed up in how to dole out attention.  A woman is suspected of killing her two year old and then shows up on a reality top ten show.  Barely a thought given to the little girl whose light was extinguished from this earth.  I know - I am too much.  It's just that I am often thinking that while well meaning folks who love us are sort of hoping we get better and that this all kind of "goes away", there is this beautiful soul who is no longer here.  Whose life had so much meaning and importance and now he is gone.  And, my anger will not subside because someone made a funny.  My anger is real and profound and it goes deep.  It goes DEEP....Deep - a place where very few are willing to go.

PS - I wasn't being sarcastic yesterday when I said I appreciated nice emails from friends who thought that I was feeling better.  I really did appreciate them.  I just wanted to explain how complex grief was...I only wish it were that easy.


Paulfleishman said...

Hear hear.

Zoie Dubinsky said...

A friend of mine who talks about the commercialization of success and the socialization of failure in the media. What you wrote reminded me of what she said. As my friend is more interested in how this plays out with her children's feelings, I think it relates to what you are saying about grief and the your recent post about the crazy top 10 most hated americans show and how it relates to grief....Is it getting to the point where our feelings are commodities that the media tries to possess? Maybe that sounds crazy, but it kind of makes sense to me. Why does there always have to be something lost or gained when it comes to feelings? People should have the right to feeling the way they should. They should have examples of what is normal. Don't get me wrong, I like TV sometimes, but wow, it is not doing us a service if the message is, "don't feel" or "feel less" or "feel the same". There needs to be better examples of how to respect people, life, and love.