When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to watch Queen for a Day, that reality show forerunner where four women vied to become "Queen for a Day" by telling their tragic stories. These tales would always make me cry, but the next time it was on, I'd be snuggled in my grandmother's lap watching with her. She never seemed to get upset, but her enjoyment of the show was always tinged with something a little more avid, more personal. It wasn't schadenfreude--it was more like a sense of sisterhood. My grandmother had a hard life, outlived her husband, her siblings, all three of her daughters and all three of her sons-in-law too. And she never complained. Never. Life was hard and well, life was hard. There was no real use whining about it.
I think she got a kick out of knowing that these poor women got something for their troubles. She didn't dwell on her problems but she was happy to discuss anyone else's. My mother (her youngest daughter) used to say that my grandmother enjoyed the role of "Job's comforter." But the point is that when her friends reached out, there was someone there to listen.
Now that I'm older, I'm inclined to think the fix was probably in at QFAD, and the winners were probably pre-determined.
I was thinking about Queen for a Day today as I read about the woman who tweeted as her little boy was dying in a hospital E.R. A lot of the comments are of the "Maybe he wouldn't have drowned if you hadn't been on the Internet" variety. They are what my grandmother would have called "hateful." (And actually, so would I. There's a lot of my grandmother in me.)
Sometimes you read stories online that stop your heart. (I make it a practice not to read news stories about babies on the Internet, they're rarely good news but I couldn't escape this one.) My heart goes out to this woman because I remember the long night of my mother's dying. We were alone in her hospital room and she did not know I was there. I would have given anything to have been able to reach out and connect with someone.
There are those who say that that the Internet has isolated people. I don't agree. No one should go through something as terrible as losing a child alone. I hope that she received some solace from reaching out like that. My grandmother did not believe in vulgar language but she would have summed the whole issue up with "Mean people suck."