When it comes to media, I try to be as objective as possible. Obviously I’ll berate something if I dislike it or cheer when I’m captivated by something, but I usually go into things with an open mind. It pains me when television shows lack quality, but then hit so close to home that I can’t openly talk about them.
Still, last night’s episode of “Glee” really did a number on me. The plot of the episode had the show’s main antagonist, Sue Sylvester (played by Jane Lynch), dealing with the loss of her sister. Her sister had been afflicted with Down syndrome, but managed to make it past 40 years of life.
Sue explains to her rival teacher, Mr. Shue, that she was hopeful. Her sister, Jean, lived past 35; a year her doctors claimed would be her last. Then she got up to 40 and 45 and everything seemed great when she turned 50. Sue was shocked that everything was perfect the night before. Then she got a call in the morning and she heard the horrible news.
Why this hits so close to home for me is that I experienced a similar loss in my own life with my aunt. While my aunt didn’t suffer from a lifetime illness, when doctors diagnosed her with ALS, my family really didn’t know what to say. She was given 2 years to live and we all felt terrible.
Those 2 years weren’t easy, either. My aunt was a small ball of energy. We used to laugh about her height (a meager 4′ 10″), but she definitely could knock you out if you pushed her. She was a very lovable and quaint person, though she had a wild side when she felt it. Seeing her deteriorate was like watching any natural disaster and feeling helpless.
She first began to lose feeling in her legs, eventually losing the ability to walk. Next came her arms and those, too, lost function. Her voice began to go and along with that, her ability to hold up her head. It was essentially like having “locked-in” syndrome and she cried at nearly everything.
When she wanted to say something but couldn’t, she cried. When my uncle tried his best to speak to her and help her communicate, she got frustrated and cried. He learned how to use a very interesting vision based keyboard, but she never fully grasped the idea and would give up, much to my uncle’s dismay.
The saddest part, for me at least, is how her memory never faded. My uncle obviously had a lot on his mind, but my aunt didn’t forget my birthday. Of all the hardships she was facing, she still had that love in her heart and the retention of an elephant.
On “Glee”, Sue says to the Glee club something that I often say to myself.
“Jean was the nicest person I have ever known. As you can all tell, I’m probably the meanest person you’ll ever meet. Why wasn’t it my time?”
I may not have fully known my aunt, but she was easily one of the warmest and loving people in my life. Losing her was awful to me and all I can think about is how selfish I am. I remember the times in my school life where I was mean to my fellow classmates. I remember how awful I’ve treated some women in my life.
I think of how ungrateful I was for my mother’s love during my youth. I can’t escape how terrible I’ve treated some of my friends with my own headstrong attitude. What I really don’t understand, though, is why my aunt had to die.
I’m not going to spin this religiously, either. I am not a religious man, though that is mostly due to my aunt’s passing. Still, when evil persists in the world and good is taken out, what is the greater purpose?
So while last night’s Glee may not have been a good episode, it definitely is one that got me thinking.
Life is indeed awful, but I hope that by opening up a small bit to the community, that I can learn to grow and move past my inner doubts.
If nothing else, know that I never intend to harm anyone with my comments.