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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Comforter or Killer?

 A few days ago, my four-year-old granddaughter stuck a pompom up her nostril, and it got stuck. This necessitated a trip to her pediatrician, then Children’s Hospital, where after 7.5 hours and an ENT being summoned from another hospital and her being sedated, the offending pompom was removed.

My husband and I were called that evening to babysit her sisters so that she could be taken to the hospital. As the hours slipped by, and I lay sleepless on their couch in the wee hours of the morning, receiving texts on the pompom removal process, I had a lot of time to think about how we react to situations, especially ones where someone is vulnerable. As soon as my granddaughter stuck the pompom up her nose, she knew she’d done something stupid and was panicked and remorseful.

The “pompom episode” occurred during the controversial episode of Simone Biles pulling out of her Olympic gymnastics competition. It seemed that everyone in the media had an opinion on that from understanding to outright vitriol. I don’t follow Simone Biles; I know who she is, but I don’t know enough about her life to opine that she choked or had legitimate reasons for not competing. However, what I do know is that there are some people who pounce when people are down.

Fortunately, for me I come from a loving family who, whenever tragedy strikes or a catastrophe occurs or you stick a pompom up your nose, no matter how stupid you’ve been, you close ranks and support and care for each other. I assumed most people are like that.

I was wrong.

Nearly 40 years ago, my husband’s family suffered the death of someone I liked a lot. During that stressful time, a relative, whom I will call Rhonda for anonymity’s sake, and whom I thought was kind and compassionate, decided to settle an old score with the sister of the deceased, attacking her and telling the bereaved what a lout her brother was, disparaging him in a rant that led to a shouting match and others bursting into tears. All I could liken it to was a scene from the old show Wild Kingdom where a wounded animal lay crippled in the brush and a lion pounced to tear it to pieces. 

Perhaps I was naïve; I was only 23 at the time, but nevertheless, I was distraught not only because Rhonda was speaking ill of the dead when he wasn’t even buried but also because how ugly Rhonda revealed her heart to be. She was downright ugly. I never regarded her the same after.

As I lay on the couch trying to catch some sleep, I vowed that I never wanted to be that vicious to the vulnerable. I’m sure my daughter felt like lashing out when my little granddaughter stuffed the pompom up her nose, but what good would it have done?

I hope when calamity strikes that I act as a comforter to the vulnerable and not as a killer.

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