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ESSAY: A girl like me

“Pregnant PA mom of 5 is gunned down in the street.” That’s the headline on Facebook, with a photo of a pretty, dark-skinned girl who looks about 18.

Tell all the truth but tell it slant

By Emily Dickinson

Tell all the truth but tell it slant —

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind —


“Pregnant PA mom of 5 is gunned down in the street.” That’s the headline on Facebook, with a photo of a pretty, dark-skinned girl who looks about 18. That Internet excursion to check Facebook, was not, like most, a waste of time. I realize something important and true that I’d rather not admit. The outrage and sympathy I have for Cecil the lion, killed for sport in Zimbabwe, the crying I just did on a previous Facebook break for the little gray terrier that crawled out from under his owner’s tornado-broken house, contrast with the lack of feeling I have for that mom. My visceral concern for a lion and a dog is opposed to my involuntary thoughts about a dead mom. “Five kids? Really?”

What else do we think? Ralpher009, whose thoughts first mirror mine, then head to where I’d go on a very bad day, maybe. “27 years old…five children….pregnant?  Maybe the media might want to dwell on that topic. But, I guess government assistance is fun.”

Then Love, posting as Volleyballmom410, took the stage for a moment. “It does not matter that this woman had five children, or whether she could support them, or why she had so many, or whether she was married. What matters is that she was just walking down the street, doing nothing wrong, and got murdered. So stop with the hateful, judgmental comments, people. You don’t know this woman or her circumstances, and regardless, she did not deserve to lose her life like this.” Wait a second, Love, Wary Alaskan has to make sure that the Dark Side gets a word in. “You don’t know her circumstances either, so you may want to get off your high horse. Maybe an ex who was tired of her lying, cheating, manipulative ways finally snapped.”

Under the right circumstances, perhaps I could also have gone to the “She deserves to die” place. If that girl had been distractedly speeding and veered into my lane on the highway, or, more likely, if she’d been the whiny loudmouth standing in front of me in a long, sweaty line at a theater or take-out restaurant. Am I more Wary Alaskan than Volleyballmom410?  Who am I today?

I re-look at her. Her name was Deona Barnett. She was 27, and had dark, perfect eyebrows. Her selfie shows off a cute, deep dimple. I look closer. Her clean right cheek line angles down, then veers off from the rest of her face to form its own three-sided trapezoidal chin. That’s my chin. And then the tears do come. I can cry for a person, too. I can cry for a girl like me. That’s a start, right? I looked truth in the face and the lightning didn’t blind me.

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