Outrage on Salon is nothing new. Even its most innoccuous articles attract trolls, haters, prigs, and the occasional psychotic. Clawed commenters do their best to leave their mark upon the author, particularly if she is a woman who admits to having had sex.
(The circumstances of the sex don't seem to matter.)
(After a week of online courtship. Soon after they made love.)
(Sex on the first date. Get those claws ready!)
I read the story and thought it a good one. Sensitively told, it reminded me that while fiction can be crafted to offer satisfaction, real life has no such obligation, but sometimes delivers anyway.
Of course, the haters emerged. First in trickles. Then in droves. In divided camps: Some didn’t think much of Lorraine’s choice to write about her time with Yves in a public forum. Others “called bullshit” and claimed she made it all up.
(Then things got weird.)
Cary Tennis, of all people, stepped into the fray and told folks that he believed Lorraine. A friend stated that she believed Lorraine. The article’s editor explained that Salon was removing some of the ruder comments and that yes, she believed Lorraine.
For what it’s worth, I believe Lorraine.
Two things, really.
(But first a bit of background.)
In 1995, my father dropped dead while we ate lunch together at Shaw's Crab House in Chicago. His heart stopped. I had difficulty sleeping for about six months, ended up on anti-depressants for a bit, and carried a chip on my shoulder for more years than was proper.
(I still cry about it.)
Yet even in the first few horrible minutes after he lost consciousness/ in the thick of restaurant managers administering CPR/ greeting paramedics at the restaurant door/ riding in the front of the ambulance to the hospital/ getting the official word from the doctor/ telling my sobbing stepmother how much my father loved her/ I became aware of what Lorraine describes as the “privilege” of being with someone in their dying. Yes, it is often horrible. If the death is sudden, it is a shock. But it is a privilege, and one that crept into my traumatized consciousness, remaining there throughout my many years of grieving.
(Lorraine speaks of the privilege as one who knows.)
This brings me to the second reason why I believe Lorraine. Lorraine wrote of the kindness that Yves' family showed her during his short hospitalization and after his death. Salon commenters could not comprehend why a family would reach out to a stranger while grieving the loss of a family member.
(But I do.)
The suddenness of my father’s death was a shock, and watching it was traumatic, but at least I know, and those who loved my father know, what happened. More than a few times, we discussed among ourselves what could have happened. My father traveled a lot on business. He could have died in a hotel room, perhaps lying on the floor overnight until housecleaning arrived to discover his body.
We would never have known the story. We would have always wondered if he’d been afraid. If he’d tried to reach the telephone. Or became dizzy and confused minutes or hours before his heart finally gave up.
(I saw what happened. His eyes were open. He asked if I wanted dessert. He asked if I wanted some fresh fruit. Then he wasn’t there.)
(His eyes were still open.)
We know he didn’t suffer, and we know that he didn’t lose consciousness or die alone. We know the story, even though it isn’t a pleasant one to own.
Because of Lorraine, Yves family knows the story. Someone was present for him as he lost consciousness. They have a description of how he expressed his pain. They’ve been spared both the torment of not knowing and the temptation to prolong the torment by guessing at Yves story.
(Because of Lorraine they know.)
(And this is why they are grateful.)