Tragedy and grief neither know nor respect the things which separate us one from another


Patton Oswalt has opened up once again about dealing with grief following the sudden death of his wife, Michelle McNamara. In a Facebook post…the actor and comedian spoke candidly about his struggles with loss, writing, “Thanks, grief. Thanks for making depression look like the buzzing little bully it always was.”…. Oswalt also writes about the silver lining that seems to come with grief, noting that after all the pain and exhaustion, “You will have been shown new levels of humanity and grace and intelligence by your family and friends.” Aside from thanking his family, Oswalt expresses gratitude for the letters and messages he’s gotten from strangers via social media and the mail, the type of letters, he says, “you’ll keep and re-read ‘cause you can’t believe how helpful they are.”

Too often, we see celebrities doing what they do and neglect to recognize and understand that, behind whatever they’re public persona may be, they’re people like us. They have dreams and aspirations, insecurities and fears, and they endure love and loss. Not very often do we get a glimpse of the very human side of those whose public face is their brand. Patton Oswalt is one of the very few celebrities willing and able to pull back the veil and reveal his very human side.

Like many of us, Oswalt had a wife and family. He led a fairly normal existence…if life in Hollywood could ever be anything close to “normal.” The death of his wife, Michelle McNamara, was every bit as tragic to him as it would be to anyone else who loved their spouse. Like any human being, that shared history and love is part of what makes life special and sweet. No one ever expects to lose that, especially not suddenly and without warning. Most of us, were we to lose a spouse or loved one, would be devastated, bereft, and forced to deal with a profound, crushing grief that could never have been anticipated.

Oswalt has, despite his success, managed to maintain the demeanor of a regular guy, someone you could have a beer or six with. Perhaps that’s part of what made the outpouring of public sympathy possible; we could relate to him. That he’s recognized how fortunate he is for the love and support he’s received is to his credit, and his gracious response speaks to someone who recognizes that his loss is something he need not suffer alone.

McNamara died in her sleep on April 21st. She was all of 46 years old. Oswalt was no doubt looking forward to having many more good years with her- raising their children, sharing their successes and setbacks, and living the life they’d chosen together.

I can’t imagine how I would react in a similar situation…and I hope I’ll never have reason to find out. Life is funny sometimes- and not always in a humorous way. Plans are made and dreams dreamt…but sometimes things don’t play out as anticipated.

What then?

What sort of people support Donald Trump? Evidently ugly, intolerant, and mean people.


Amid the uproar over Donald Trump’s response to the Khan family, who spoke out against the Republican nominee at the DNC, the “military mom” of a son serving in the U.S. Air Force was shouted down by Trump supporters at a rally for vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence in Carson City, Nevada. The woman was initially applauded by the crowd when she introduced herself, but those cheers turned to loud boos when she said, “Time and time again, Trump has disrespected our nation’s armed forces and veterans. And his disrespect for Mr. Khan and his family is just an example.” Trump has repeatedly criticized Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose U.S. Army captain son was killed in Iraq in 2004. “You have a son in the military,” she told Pence as the crowd tried to silence her. “How do you tolerate this disrespect?”

I often find myself wondering what sort of person would support Donald Trump. Yesterday, I wrote about Trump’s shameless war of words directed at Khizr and Gazala Khan, the parents of an Army captain who sacrificed his own life to save more than 20 of his those under his command. From where I sit, that’s about as objectionable and heartless as it’s possible for a human being to be.

Monday, we found out what type of person supports Donald Trump…and they’re every bit as disrespectful, mean-spirited, and intolerant as their candidate.

“How do you tolerate this disrespect?” Turns out they’re every bit as disrespectful as their candidate…which fascinates me, given that patriotism is one of The Donald’s (if you’ll pardon the play on words) trump cards.

It seems it’s far less about patriotism and love of country than it is slavish devotion to the cult of personality that Trump and the media have created around him. That Indiana Gov. Mike Pence would consent to be his running mate (he has a son in the military) is testament to the double standard that defines the Trump campaign. The GOP standard bearer can grossly insult and demean a couple who lost their son in Iraq…and his rabid devotees are OK with that. When an Air Force mother attempted to point out his hypocrisy and inhumanity, the crowd turned on her.

Stay classy, eh?

As per usual, Gov. Pence is attempting to have his cake and eat it, too.

Pence, who previously released a statement that tried to calm down the furor over his running mate’s remarks, effectively quieted down the crowd, saying, “That’s what freedom looks like, and that’s what freedom sounds like.” But while Pence reiterated that Captain Khan “is an American hero and we honor him and honor his family,” he went on to defend Trump by saying there is “no one more devoted to the veterans in this country.”

I’m not certain how any rational person could look at Trump’s attack on the Khans and claim with no trace of irony that there’s “no one more devoted to the veterans in this country.” Think about that for a second. Here’s a candidate who egregiously insulted the parents of a fallen American hero and then compared their son’s sacrifice with his own. That’s devotion?

It’s beginning to seem that admission to a Trump or Pence rally means having to check one’s humanity and sense of decency and kindness at the door. Even if (more likely when) Trump loses, these ignorant, heartless buffoons will still be among us- ready, willing, and able for the next demagogue to exploit.

Greetings from our new idiocracy….