Letting go
July 28, 2013 2:57 AM   Subscribe

For a few days now, Scott Simon, host of NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, has been present at his mother's bedside in the intensive care unit of a Chicago hospital. He is documenting this time, what will apparently be his last days with her, in a series of heartwrenching messages on his Twitter stream.
posted by deliciae (60 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Jeez, that's a rough read.

Prepare yourselves...
posted by kuanes at 3:25 AM on July 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Jesus. Hit me in the head with a big hammer, please, in lieu of this kind of scene, when the time comes.
posted by thelonius at 3:46 AM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

You can make the case that he's simply documenting the experience, but you must accept that he's using a platform mainly used for self promotion.

What he's doing, at the very least, is looking for strange reactions to his turmoil.
posted by converge at 4:01 AM on July 28, 2013 [8 favorites]

Internet, twitter, blogging, and yes, MeFi, were lifesavers for me when I was sitting next to my wife's bed when she was slowly dying and it's cathartic to be able to write about this while it's happening and get that flood of love and concern from complete strangers, when you most need it. I can well understand why Simon, somebody who was already using Twitter a lot, both professionally and for private enjoyment, would use it also for this.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:04 AM on July 28, 2013 [33 favorites]

We may know death ourselves. We do not, in western society, know if our experience of death is like those of others. There is no mechanism to ask our elders "Is this how it should be? Was this right?"

This is not an easy read, but it is both valuable and understandable that someone might wan to do this.
posted by cromagnon at 4:07 AM on July 28, 2013 [6 favorites]

Twitter is not just a platform for promotion, it is also a medium of creative expression and communication. The death of a loved one can be intensely private, but it doesn't have to be. I think there's value to other people in writing about experiences like this. That he's doing it in real time in a way that he's already well known for does not make it bad; it makes it unique. (Or at least, atypical.)
posted by Mizu at 4:08 AM on July 28, 2013 [8 favorites]

Mod note: "what an asshole" derail deleted; can we please not start with over-the-top shitty stuff right out of the gate?
posted by taz (staff) at 4:10 AM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm among those who find it self-indulgent, sticking it in other people's faces, and I wonder if he asked his mother about doing this.

Obviously he could write for catharsis or comfort and do so through a different medium.

And I would feel more comfortable with this if it was a random person, not someone who writes for a living.

I type this several weeks after my mother died and a sister posted a picture and a short video on Facebook of our mother on her deathbed, with some words along the lines of how hard it can be to face death -- which struck me as being in exceptionally poor taste.
posted by ambient2 at 4:47 AM on July 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Okay, points taken with value. I might be wrong.
posted by converge at 4:47 AM on July 28, 2013

I hope this project helps him get through this. I wonder, though, if shouting to the populated void will.
posted by converge at 4:54 AM on July 28, 2013 [13 favorites]

the populated void

Is that a term you just coined? It's pretty brilliant.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:11 AM on July 28, 2013 [14 favorites]

I'd just like to say that this is one of those times where I agree with both the people who are pro-this guy doing this and anti-this guy doing this. I'm on both sides of this particular fence.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:13 AM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Once again, MetaFilter decides to do death really badly.

Person sitting at your computer? Yes. You. With your cup of coffee and sweatpants and list of chores to do on Sunday. Isn't it great that we live in a free society where we can write literally anything that we want and have people around the world respond to those thoughts immediately? Isn't it wonderful that we have a right to privacy and that those thoughts, even the most controversial or uncomfortable ones, can be expressed in ways that don't negatively affect our lives? Indeed, we live in an age of wonders.

Maybe...I'm just tossing this out there...maybe, one of the prices we'd like to pay for this liberty is that, when we encounter other actual, physical people who are in difficult situations and who are using this wonderful medium to express their thoughts and emotions in the midst of their troubles and who, because of their pain or their public persona, do so awkwardly and without the cloak of anonymity the rest of us enjoy...maybe in this situation, we'd like to rein in our sharpness and our snark and respond with compassion or, barring that, silence. You know. The way we would if we were physically facing another person who was actually going through those sorts of difficulties.

Again, just a thought. Nobody encumbers you, for the most part. You can say and do pretty much whatever you want. But, in this case, why would you want to?

Speaking only as myself now, as a person who just a couple of days ago lost someone very close to me, who went so suddenly that a lot of really important things went unsaid, I find this really affecting. My heart goes out to Scott Simon. I'm glad he gets this time with his mom, no matter how difficult it is. And I get a little relief from my own grief by seeing the progression of his thoughts as his mother dies.
posted by R. Schlock at 5:19 AM on July 28, 2013 [85 favorites]

My mother passed a year ago, and I wouldn't have gotten through it without the kindness of strangers. It is only by the grace of God that I had people whose names I didn't even know, along with neighbors and long lost friends, who heard about it and were there for me. I won't criticize the guy for tweeting about it. I even sent him a supportive reply.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:31 AM on July 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

Damn, this instance has raised many questions for me.

What is the appropriate measure of public reaction(s) to death?

Where does the personal end?

What is the nature of the private use of the public?

And, what does context have to do with it? Does the use change with context?

posted by converge at 5:35 AM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am so sorry for Scott Simon, and for his mother.

Bedside in Hospice, I remember wanting to document everything, so I would remember and make sense of that intense sense of the moment, and not wanting to waste a second with anything as fleeting as writing or talking with anyone but my dying mother-in-law. With anything other than being there, being present. Twitter seems like a compromise: a quick record that reaches out to others and processes thoughts as they happen. I won't blame him for anything in these hours: he's getting through them as best he can.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:41 AM on July 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

Scott Simon routinely tweets about his family and his love for them, simply and affectingly. I think what he is doing here is pretty much the same thing. It's one of the ways he uses the medium.

I sat with my dad while he was dying. I had my brother and sister and a few others with me. If I'd been by myself, I might have done something like this. It's a hard and lonely vigil to keep. We sat and talked with him as long as he was awake and aware. But sitting and singing old songs? Wow. I think that would make it really hard to let go.
posted by Archer25 at 5:44 AM on July 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

This guy is suffering, understandably. He's a professional writer who knows writing and is probably pretty comfortable in writing. We should allow him that comfort.
posted by The Potate at 5:45 AM on July 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

Jeez, that's a rough read.

But not as rough as going through it yourself.

Self promotion or not, my heart does go out to him. But I don't need to read it. I could write it.
posted by justgary at 5:50 AM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

No matter how I twist this around in my head, I can not, for the life of me, figure out any justification for anyone to be upset, angry, or disapproving of what Scott Simon is doing. Reacting in that manner seems petty and judgemental.

I hope he finds some peace in writing these words and sharing them, and if someone else finds some solace in those words, all the better.
posted by HuronBob at 6:05 AM on July 28, 2013 [13 favorites]

Me thinks reasonable people can disagree on this one -- without it being deemed petty or judgmental.
posted by ambient2 at 6:08 AM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

And I get a little relief from my own grief by seeing the progression of his thoughts as his mother dies.

posted by jeanmari at 6:09 AM on July 28, 2013

My initial reaction, sorrow for them both, was followed by the desire to know more about his mother's life, diagnosis and prognosis (reading back through July gives no hint that this was coming--quick mention of surgery but he still goes on vacation-- and there's a pic of her looking fit). And here's the rub, albeit still inchoate: Scott Simon is emotionally affecting his audience and engaging them with this poignant tragedy without sharing the fact set that normally accompanies the intensity of feelings that he's evoking. And that's his right, obviously, but it is also drawing on how we conflate exposure to media figures with "knowing" (and hence caring for) them. Perhaps that's why his tweets strike some as manipulative.
posted by carmicha at 6:11 AM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Truth be told, I have my own opinions on this, but the fact is that death of a loved one, and reminders that death is real, inevitable, and affects everyone, can and will elicit a wide range of strong emotions, and an even wider range of how those emotions are dealt with.

Among some others, intensely private people and those with very strong anxieties about death may kick back emotionally with a perceived aura of "shameless promotion"

Those who have recently been affected by death, or those who empathize naturally will likely be moved by these heart wrenching tweets.

Whatever I think of it right now doesn't matter, but for me, it is an uncomfortable reminder that my mom is getting older, that my own death and that of everyone I love is inexorably approaching. Whether that's a helpful thing or not, I'm not sure. It does remind me of this quote, though....

"Thus that which is the most awful of evils, death, is nothing to us, since when we exist there is no death, and when there is death we do not exist.”
posted by Debaser626 at 6:15 AM on July 28, 2013

I can understand why Scott Simon would tweet about this experience. What I'm having a hard time understanding is why some of you need to assess whether it's appropriate for him to do so.

My favourite brother died of a massive heart attack at the age of 42 in November 2011. The night he died I went on MetaChat, told everyone that he had died, and posted a bunch of entertaining anecdotes about him in the thread. It gave me a way to deal with all the memories that were coursing through my mind. That night I also spoke on the phone with a few people, emailed some other friends to let them know, and then put a second coat of paint on my guest room walls (I'd done the first coat earlier that day before I got the news), and scrubbed the kitchen floor. I was expecting to have family to stay at my place later in the week and they were things that needed to be done, but I also needed to be doing something. The next day was also very productive. I did some time-consuming and not too mentally taxing things such as running errands and putting the guest room back together and laundering curtains. No one who observed me that night or that day would have thought I was all that grief stricken, I suppose, but over a year and a half later, I can still barely bear to scrub my kitchen floor because it's now a task so associated with that night. I remember thinking while I knitted on the bus that day after that this is why it is so important to be kind to everyone, because you never really know how they feel or what they're going through, or what any rude or inconsiderate behaviour on your part might add to whatever weight they're carrying.

So I don't feel any need to criticize Simon for his tweets about his dying mother. Grief makes you do things you wouldn't expect, and as long as you aren't hurting anyone or yourself, I don't see why you shouldn't just do whatever feels right, and allow others the same leeway.
posted by orange swan at 6:19 AM on July 28, 2013 [68 favorites]

Once again, MetaFilter decides to do death really badly.

With respect, I truly don't think that voicing the mixed feelings triggered by this is doing anything "badly". And I don't think we should assume that Scott Simon isn't well aware of the complexities and potential negative reactions, either; I don't think we owe it to him to censor any less positive reactions. The subject of death tends to elicit them. That's OK too, I think.
posted by oliverburkeman at 6:22 AM on July 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

I don't think it's something I could have done when I lost my dad. Then again, the moments where I could step back from things were terribly important. Giving himself that slight distance from events that reporting allows might be the thing that's keeping him from falling apart. When I had nothing to keep me occupied, nothing that I needed to do or take care of, when faced with the enormity of my father dying, I couldn't make words work. I couldn't function. If this works for him, then it's good.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:22 AM on July 28, 2013

I didn't keep any kind of journal of my mother's final days, but I surely did keep a record of her initial steps off that steep slope downwards --- this was a woman who'd been healthy my whole life, and then boom! Problem on top of problem on top of more problems. In the end, it took her 14 long years to die, but I only kept a record of the first three or four of those years: I think it helped me come to grips with the new reality, and then I didn't need to keep that personal record any more.

So yes, I can see this guy keeping a journal of his mother's passing days; still, I do think it a tiny bit intrusive of her privacy to publish it, unless he asked for and received her permission.
posted by easily confused at 6:53 AM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

ICU seems to be staffed by good, smart young docs who think they know everything, and wise RN's who really do.

Word, Scott.
posted by Danf at 7:03 AM on July 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

I did and thought and felt all kinds of unexpected things when I was at my mom's bedside when she died. If twitter had existed then, I might have done something like this, too.
posted by rtha at 7:10 AM on July 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

ICU seems to be staffed by good, smart young docs who think they know everything, and wise RN's who really do.

I've had the same feeling lately watching old ER episodes.

(I really have. Me and the wife are going through the whole shebang: currently on season 4)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:21 AM on July 28, 2013

This man is suffering, and just because his suffering is not entirely unique (many people see their parents die in this or a similar way) does not mean that he should suffer in silence. We must disclose in order to get support in our times of need. This man is likely receiving an outpouring of support right now, which is a good thing.

Also, if one does not like it, one may simply walk away from the computer. This man cannot walk away from his situation. He harms no one (assuming he got his mother's permission, and I imagine even without it the harm done to her privacy is worth it to her so that her son may prepare for and grieve her death properly, surrounded by love from as many possible sources; additionally, our need for privacy ends when we die) - he harms no one, and is met with support. How can this be bad?
posted by k8lin at 7:41 AM on July 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

Person sitting at your computer? Yes. You. With your cup of coffee and sweatpants and list of chores to do on Sunday.

Thank you, R. Schlock, for breaking the fourth wall of the Internet. It provided a refreshing perspective. And I am sorry to hear about your loss.
posted by scblackman at 8:36 AM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

As self-aware as Simon is, I have no doubt that he has considered the appropriateness of opening up himself and his mother to the public through this.

It's not easy to know where to strike a balance between the private and the public, particularly when you have had or are having an emotional experience which may help others. I wrestled with all of these issues for years while I was the primary care provider for my mother-in-law as she went through the last stages of Alzheimer's, considering whether to blog about the experience as I went through it. And then, after her death, I wrestled with those issues even more in considering whether to bring those essays together in a book.

In the end, I did the book (with another man who did the same thing for his MIL). It is *intensely* personal, even embarrassing. Yet I have heard from countless other care providers who have found that record of our experiences not only helpful, but perhaps even life-saving. Just knowing that someone else has been through that - with all the hopes and failures - makes it easier to come to terms with your own experience.

Scott Simon is doing a service for all who need it. If you don't need it, then I am happy for you.
posted by Shadan7 at 8:52 AM on July 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

I think we've all had very different upbringings regarding the "sharing" of personal/familial information; I once told a regular vendor at the Farmer's Market that my partner and I were going on vacation to England, and Partner wished I wouldn't go around sharing our private business. Which he knew was kind of weird, but felt it anyhow. So.

20 years ago, I had a huge radio crush on Scott Simon; over the last 10 years, I've been feeling more and more like he's inserting "too much" of his own life into his Saturday 'essays', and that his attempts at profundity often miss the mark. I don't know whether I'm wrong about that, or whether there's a way to be right about that ... but seeing this gave me a bit of the same feeling.

More shamefully, when I see someone on FB going on about how much they miss their mother, say, or father, my initial reaction is "Hey, you're not the only one who's lost a parent! Stop fishing for sympathy!"

Which is, of course, a fairly shitty response to have, and the fact that my parents' deaths felt like they had to be treated as shameful secrets says a lot about my family, and little about what's "appropriate" to do in the face of one's parents' deaths.

So. I can imagine this kind of thing being over-the-top distasteful, but given my basic intuitions, I don't trust myself to make that kind of judgement, and not sure what the point would be if I did?
posted by allthinky at 9:28 AM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Emotion and pain are powerful forces that aren't always easy to process. We, each of us, do so in unique ways that reflect a multitude of factors.

Faced with unimaginable personal tragedy I have found myself doing things I would normally not consider. Not all of those things are things others would have done. I am grateful that few have called me out on a "wrong" response to a personal loss.

If an individual chooses to live through something this intense via the Internet, I do not feel qualified to say whether that act is wrong. If it works for them, it works. I have the freedom to look away if the choice makes me uncomfortable.

In the end we must all face our pain alone; it is human to try to lighten the load through sharing.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:37 AM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

It really is not a path I would go down. Mainly because I personally tend to be very private about some things. I'll willingly share many things about me on the internet, my name and location, fine and dandy. But death of a loved one? No, not for me. I kind of subscribe to there is too much over sharing already. Too much chatter, not enough thought.
Death seems like such a simultaniouly personal and universal thing. We all die, all of our loved ones die. Our heroes, our enienemies, neighbors and distant relations. It both is and is not a unique eexperience. I can offer my condolances , and be sincere, to someone I hardly know who loses a loved one. But in a real sense it hardly touches my life. Unless, of course, it happens to me and mine. This is just me, but when someone I love dies II want to share my grief with those who knew that person.
Death is something we as a species have been consciously dealing with for a long time without twitter and the like.
Having said that, I can't critize Simon all that much. Hopefully it comes from an honest space and I do hope it helps him as it seems to help some others. I hope he got his mom's permission to write about her illness in real time while she is still alive though.
posted by edgeways at 9:39 AM on July 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

A lot of the ways we respond to deeply emotional events, whether within our own families or on the Internet, also comes down to fundamental wiring, temperament, etc. Simon and his mother are both in the performing arts, and a fair amount of people, even very introverted ones, are in those lines of work because that's how they process experience, emotion, trauma, etc. They channel it into performance and cope that way, and that's not about ego or seeking attention. But it can be deeply upsetting to people not wired that way. And the behavior of people who guard or contain their trauma can be extremely painful to those who share or perform.

My sister is one of the people who need to perform trauma and loss, not just share or express it but have an audience or source of feedback. I really, really, really don't process grief and pain that way. If she's a drama llama, I'm an armadillo crossed with a porcupine. So when our mother died 20 years ago, there we were, two incompatible creatures thrust together in difficult circumstances, and it was a fucking miracle that our grieving styles, each so alien and painful and wounding to the other, didn't result in a mushroom cloud hovering over the funeral home.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:06 AM on July 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

Based on family medical history, when my mother passes, it will be either too fast for me say goodbye or in a months-long stew of dementia. Good on Scott for being with his mother while she's lucid enough to understand what's going to happen, and good on him for sharing with those of us who will never be able to do that.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:12 AM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

What a contrast. As my mom said, "Well, at least I won't have to learn how to use a computer now." (which included tablets, smartphones, or anything that could have tweeted).

She was able to stay home, and die in her own bed, sending back the hospital bed they had delivered. No electronic machines, not even metal bars, just lots and lots of pillows and blankets. It made it a bit harder on us, but I think of it as a last gift we were able to give her: the death she wanted. I hope Simon is finding a way to do the same.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:26 AM on July 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

The surprising thing, I think, is that of all the things the web has enabled us to do live and publicly, grieving was not necessarily anticipated to be one of them.
posted by yoga at 10:34 AM on July 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Nothing makes me angrier than people condemning the actions of someone going through this stuff. Being a judgmental asshat is bad enough, but judging someone by the actions during the gasping, flailing, begging to make sense of the world shifting around you times is just beyond the pale.

I found Mr. Simon's twitter stream heartbreakingly beautiful.
posted by DigDoug at 11:26 AM on July 28, 2013 [10 favorites]

But I don't need to read it. I could write it.

And I do need to read it, because I could write it.

We're all different, with differing experiences and needs and responses. For me, reading this echoes my own too-often repeated losses, the losses so keen that they're now woven into how I live this life, day in and day out.

Seeing that loss and grief --- and, above all, love --- play out moment by moment for someone else is a bittersweet reminder to me that I am not alone in my past and future sorrows, that I am not alone in trying to greet their inevitability with fortitude, with kindness, and with love.

Death --- your own or a loved one's --- can be a very lonely time. Friends shrink away from mentioning it, caregivers are (understandably) clinically protective or brusque, and it's hard to find time amid the bustle of mortality to seek out contact. Compassionate exposure, parting that dark curtain to let some light in, can be a great help.

I don't care why he's sharing this, and I hope it makes him feel less alone, too.
posted by Elsa at 12:02 PM on July 28, 2013 [6 favorites]

We don't own our own deaths, they are left for our survivors who will process them how they see fit, and make of them and their memories what they will. Our last illness, while it is being endured, is however a bit different and not really for others to tell (until later). But I don't really see what Simon is doing here is really encroaching on that. I've dealt with enough bereavement to look with sympathetic forbearance on the coping strategies of others.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 12:06 PM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Reading this takes me right back to my mother's bedside 8 years ago - I feel for him and am grateful he's sharing it. It's a hard thing to go through and even witnessing it vicariously through his twitter stream is painful.
posted by leslies at 12:58 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Perhaps pertinent on the topics of (American) society's dysfunctional attitudes toward mourning and doing so in the public eye, written by a grief counselor and widow: http://www.gettingpastyourbreakup.com/gettingpastyourpast/2013/07/the-grief-of-lea-michele-or-my-god-is-she-still-grieving/#more-17902
posted by NorthernLite at 2:17 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

My father-in-law passed away two weeks ago today, three weeks after brain surgery for what turned out to be stage IV glioblastoma multiforme. Those three weeks, and the three weeks before the surgery, when we didn't know exactly what was wrong, but knew it was something bad ... Without the support I got through a select group of friends on FB, and through some shouting into the populated void of Twitter, I don't know that I'd have been able to give my husband the support he needed. I wasn't as open with details on Twitter as Simon is being now, but I understand the impulse, and feel for him. Telling the story as it is happening, to me, helps keep it straight in my head. Hell, going back to those FB posts makes sense of the blur it all was while it was happening.

We all need ways to cope and tell our stories. I can't criticize Simon for doing both in a medium he's familiar with and comfortable using. I wish both him and his mother peace.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 3:25 PM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

NorthernLite: “The Grief of Lea Michele or “MY GOD IS SHE STILL GRIEVING????”
If any among the assembled company are struggling with grief, I urge them to read this. I found tremendous comfort in it. Thank you for posting it, NL.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:52 PM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'd just like to say that this is one of those times where I agree with both the people who are pro-this guy doing this and anti-this guy doing this. I'm on both sides of this particular fence.

Death of a loved one sucks. It must. And everybody grieves differently. Some of us choose to share it with everyone we know (plus a pile of strangers), some of us just want to be alone. And the last thing I care to do is judge how somebody deals.

But I must wonder what the value is going so overtly public with what is such a personal thing; not because it's inappropriate (or whatever) ... but just the ubiquity of it. Because we all must go through it at some point, feel the pain ... and there are billions of us online. At one point does compassion fatigue set in?

I'm of an age where a lot of my contemporaries are losing their parents. It's interesting to track how they deal with it online. Some just post the news to Facebook (twenty five words or less). Some go with a more thoughtful obituary. Some don't really do anything ... but the news seems to percolate anyway. It pops up the following Christmas ("I miss you, mom"), or maybe via some old photos that get posted on the first birthday without dad ...

I think, for me, this last is the means I'd choose for my online network. It feels more natural somehow, more relevant to how much of my personal business they actually need to know ... and how much I'd expect them to know.
posted by philip-random at 7:30 PM on July 28, 2013

@nprscottsimon: I am not sure my mother understands Twitter or why I tell her millions of people love her--but she says she's ver touched.

Whoa, he hasn't explained to her how Twitter works, that he's broadcasting her statements and experiences as they occur, and that the entire world can read them in real time?
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:58 PM on July 28, 2013

I also find I found Mr. Simon's twitter stream heartbreakingly beautiful.
posted by ruelle at 11:14 PM on July 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Never truer.
posted by chicainthecity at 12:14 AM on July 29, 2013 [6 favorites]

I had mixed feelings about it at first, too, but while she may not understand the ins and outs of Twitter, they did a StoryCorps once together as I understand it, and I think he's saying that she does understand he's talking about it. There's a difference between "understands Twitter" and "understands that I'm writing about it for my audience." In fact, at one point, he said she had two pieces of advice she wanted him to pass on.

It ultimately grew into something so lovely and heartfelt that my mixed feelings went away. It seems perfectly legitimate to me to conclude that you don't want to read it or wouldn't want to do it yourself, but I think for him, this is an extension of what he does -- he talks to people about things. I don't know Scott except to nod in the hallway, but I admire what he's done here a lot.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:01 PM on July 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

This made me cry.

My mom never lived to see Twitter or the iPhone.
posted by mike3k at 7:01 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Scott Simon ‏@nprscottsimon 1h
The heavens over Chicago have opened and Patricia Lyons Simon Newman has stepped onstage.

Scott Simon ‏@nprscottsimon 1h
She will make the face of heaven shine so fine that all the world will be in love with night.

posted by deliciae at 7:03 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by DigDoug at 1:27 PM on July 30, 2013

posted by tzikeh at 2:43 PM on July 30, 2013

I listened to Scott Simons being interviewed about this about 10 minutes ago. The interview added some information I had not considered, and also made me think about what I would have done in the same circumstance (or what I would be comfortable with one of my children doing in the same circumstance someday.)

When he went to the ICU over a week ago, he didn't realize that it would be her deathbed. He was just sharing some things about her b/c she was "so bright and sparkling." Then things took a turn for the worse. It seemed obvious to me that they were devoted to/admired each other, that she understood what his work was and how he shared with his listeners/readers. He has interviewed her on air before, and has written about her in a book. She didn't "understand Twitter" (how it worked, perhaps?), but she did seem to realize that he was sharing something in some way b/c he was reading comments to her and she passed on a couple of things for him to share with his audience.

I suddenly imagined myself in his context. As a hospital volunteer in the cardiac unit years ago, I sat at the bedside of someone who was dying--he seemed to know it although he was intubated and could no longer speak at that point. When I came in to sit in the chair, his eyes were wide and he looked frightened and disoriented. There was no family to sit with him. The nurses were too busy. I was honored to be asked to do it. There are long stretches of time, sitting beside someone who is drifting in and out of consciousness, where you feel the awesome significance/universality of your vigil so keenly. I was in awe of and frightened to my very core at the approach of death. And this was with a patient I had never met when he was lucid. Twitter did not exist in 1992. But if I had been sitting with someone I loved deeply and could have whispered down the dark hallway of the internet back then, I might have. I probably would have. I did not want to disturb the other patients or the busy nurses. But it was so lonely. So huge a responsibility and so lonely.

For some people, social media exists in the space where the coping mechanism of processing big emotions through talk intersects with the distancing strategy of writing about something to delay experiencing it too intensely. I'm one of those people. I don't know Mr. Simons, don't know if this applies to him. But I can consider the possibility and see no malice in his tweets about his beloved mother. If my children ever read this and it comforts them to Tweet/Facebook/"Future Social Media Platform" about my deathbed moments, I'm all for it. Whatever discomfort I would have (probably little or none) would be short-lived. I love them, I want them to be comforted.

posted by jeanmari at 4:15 PM on July 30, 2013 [7 favorites]

I was initially rolling my eyes at this at well, but I chalked it up to jealousy.

Jealousy that when I sat at my grandmother's deathbed vigil 10 years ago, there were no showtunes sung. Jealousy that she was angry about life and dying* and not sparkling and gracious. Jealousy that I didn't have the mental or emotional faculties to speak coherent sentences, let alone craft seemingly perfect 140 character sentiments.

Ugh. Feelings.


*She was angry until she fell into the coma. But the moments before she passed her face brightened and her upper body lifted from the bed a bit and she smiled like she saw someone she knew.
posted by kimberussell at 5:39 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

« Older Crazy like a texting fox   |   Fez II Cancelled Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments