The Façade

These days I found out about the disturbing death of a journalist, TV presenter and occasional politician. She belongs to a time when my country was just emerging from communism and we were entering the age of transition to capitalism and freedom, being one of the few famous TV presenters of that moment. A popular figure, surrounded by friends and VIPs, known by virtually everybody in Romania, she also briefly served as a counselor in the government, being well connected to the most influential people in the country. For those who are Romanians and reading this blog, I’m talking about Cristina Topescu.

Yet… at the age of 59, she was found dead in her apartment a couple of days ago. Nothing abnormal, people die, and some of them die at a relatively early age. But then, the details began to emerge. She died alone, apparently in her sleep, due to a heart attack. She was apparently struggling with depression and she was in need for sleeping pills according to the news transpired in the press. But no, she didn’t commit suicide. She simply died of cardiovascular causes, although I have personally witnessed in my family someone who died of excessive sadness and depression, even though this cause of death is not mentioned as linked to depression in most psychiatry books. To make things worse, she was living with a few dogs in her home. No partner, no kids, only some relatives (including a brother or sister, I can’t remember exactly). I guess you get the picture: a lonely person surrounding herself with faithful animals providing unconditional love. And to make things even worse, she was found dead because a neighbor called the police… 3 weeks later after her death… According to the forensic experts, she died somewhere between Christmas and the New Year. When she was found, her body was beyond any recognition… one can imagine why…

Now, pondering on this situation, there is something surprising in the entire story. She had family, she was well-known, she had a lot of connections, yet nobody noticed her absence or missed her, and if it weren’t for the neighbor who probably smelled the decaying corpse, we wouldn’t know today that she’s dead. Isn’t this revolting for you? Because it definitely is for me. It was the time of the winter greetings, of family reunions, of friends’ reunions. She died at the most critical time of the year, exactly when, theoretically, people gather together to celebrate the holidays. Was she overlooked to such a degree that nobody checked her or her place? Three weeks is a lot of time…

I wonder how many people are alone… out there… while posing as being the opposite… For someone unknown, unpopular, this is a rather typical death. But for someone like her… things are different. And it says something about the degree of fakeness society, and more recently social media, adds to our life. When pets remain our only true friends, and people forget about us, we have a big problem.

What is the façade you’re showing to other people, family included? Does anybody truly care about you? Can you name who are (or is?) the people who are going to check you if you don’t show up in society (at work?) after a while? Who is going to break the door of your home? Who is going to call the police before your dead body smells strong enough to alert the neighbors?

Do you have neighbors?

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