Scott Simon tweets of his mother's dying days a gift of grace, storytelling

Scott Simon, the Peabody Award-winning host of NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, is a practiced and talented storyteller. For 36 years, he's reported on events throughout the world, winning admirers from listeners and critics alike.

Eight days ago, he began to share the story of his mother's last days. Ensconced in the ICU of a Chicago hospital, he tweeted from his mother's bedside, gaining the attention of fans and strangers alike.

It's hard to imagine this story being told as well on any other medium. Twitter provides an immediate perspective of events as they unfold. There's little time for reflection when relaying an event in real-time; it's difficult to self-edit when feelings are raw and close.

The absolute magic of Scott Simon's tweets were- are- how they speak to the universal experience of a child's death vigil for his parent. If you've lost a parent, if you've sat by the bedside of your mother or father and watched them slip away, you were immediately gripped with the memory of those days, those waning moments.

Eventually, the death of our parents is a passage we all will face. One moment we are still, in a small but real way, someone's child. The next, we are not. As we sit the death vigil, we know that moment is coming, and we dread it.

 

For a while, you spend time thinking of all the things you didn't say, or do, and regret every one. Eventually, with acceptance, comes understanding that you've already learned what your parent was trying to teach you, for all these years.

 

And, even in dying, there are lighter moments.

 

Until, finally, there's only the hard part.

 

 

And then, finally and heartbreakingly, the end.

 

 

*****

My religion teacher in eighth grade told my class that we should never shy away from suffering; that we never know but that our pain is meant to be a lesson to someone else. "Offer it up," he said.

It's a hard sentiment to accept. Scott Simon's tweeting of his beloved mother's last days and moments, raw and uncensored, were more than just a spectacular example of how Twitter can transcend other mediums of communication. His generous sharing of a son's love and a mother's grace are a lesson that will linger in everyone who watched the story unfold.

And for those of us who have lost a parent, as I did my father, just 22 months ago, his tweets pulled us back to those moments in our own lives. I remembered the sorrow, and the pain, and the acceptance of the inevitable and in remembering, was with my father once again.

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