Life is crazy, Candy baby.
The initials seemed to leap off the Facebook feed. R.I.P. What the hell? I last talked to her back in 2011. Before that it had been 20+ years. We weren’t close or anything. But it still struck a chord.
At first the details were sketchy, but they were already tragic. She hadn’t yet been identified as deceased, but her friends and family placed links on her feed to the initial news stories indicating that it was her. While the stories themselves lacked details, the comments to stories on the local newspaper/TV news sites were just brutal. They poked fun of the area of town where the incident occurred and made all sorts of inferences about the deceased. I was a bit taken aback by the casualness of the commenters in saying some objectively horrible and callous things (I hope I don’t ignore that feeling the next time I’m inclined to say horrible and callous things online).
The emergence of new details in subsequent stories only served to fan the flames. Once her name was released people reveled in digging up details about her life and inferring that she somehow deserved her fate. Things took a turn for the worse when the guardian of her children wrote to implore people to stop with the negativity as it was affecting the children. Her children were trying to cope with the loss of their mother and were tending to her Facebook page, answering questions and repling to inquiries. Some replied by appealing to “free speech” and doubling down on their jackassery. All of this made me tremendously sad.
But then things started to take a positive turn. Friends of the deceased started reaching out to the family on her FB page. They offered to help with the kids. They took the time to say some kind words or share a fond remembrance. The kids were thankful and replied gracefully. The community rallied to take care of its own. The voices of the trolls on the news articles were dwarfed by the love and compassion shown on those articles and her FB page. My cynical side was surprised by this, which is to say that I was happy to be wrong. Humanity, you’re not all bad.