What good is gleaned from a life so tragically lived and lost as that of Anna Nichole Smith? The riveted eye of the 24/7-news cycle is unfolding layer upon layer of confusion, conflict, loss and greed. At the center of it all one life lived by an unusually pretty girl from small town America who wanted, had and lost it all. Or so it appears if we only observe the processed contrivances of image, acclaim and success.
There is a deeper story here than most will uncover, a story of enablement, consequence and self-destruction that spreads beyond one life and one death. Many will either reject, revile or fain lamentation of the waste and on going circus while drawn towards it’s guilty pleasures. Others will point to the ugly impact on all that were touched by a fast flaming life of excess. Few will view Anna’s life with true compassion and empathy. Most will miss or dismiss that her weaknesses and vulnerabilities are indeed our very own, created and found closely around us all.
There is one thread that flows through all the twists and turns of this tainted tale. An enabling presence,
Or better said, an enabling absence. It is in fact at the heart of the questions heard on airwaves around the world. What permeates all the wounds, woes and wondering? Questions about a father’s rights, place, input and identity. I do not refer simply to the paternity of young unaware Danny Lynn. Her plight is only part of a line of fatherless ness that seems to have sent Vicky Lynn Hogan on a star bright metamorphosis from small town girl looking for love, affirmation and affection into the siren seductress of a generation Anna Nicole.
Even with a committed, determined and loving mother Anna Nichole had a fatal hole in her heart. Not an anomaly of birth as was alluded to in the autopsy of her son though he too shared the same spiritual injury. Her impairment was an implanted vampiric vacuum of belonging, identity and self-worth. For many similarly marked young girls amongst us as in Anna Nichole’s case a self-destructive nature emerges. Behaviors such as promiscuity fueled by the search for a safe secure male presence; self-medication and addictive disorders driven by the pain and anger of such a formative loss and rejection amongst other sad emotional emaciations take a heartrending toll.
Not in success, riches, drugs, acclaim nor the arms of the wealthy or powerful could Anna Nichole purge the demon driving her towards the devastation of her life and the lives around her. The truly vampiric nature of her malady simply reproduced leaving generations infected and aggrieved. Sadly climaxing with her son dead at the foot of her bed as she clutched his newborn sister. For at this point one might argue, she may have truly died.
Simply scan the news around us. It is replete with tales of little girls lost. Nichole Ritchie, Brittany Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton all chocking on the thorny hollow fruits of success. Yet how many daughters, nieces, sisters and friends are similarly sinking without the spotlight of celebrity. Draining away with nearly no notice taken at all.
Where dare we ask, as fathers, uncles, brothers and friends have we failed them. As if our gender shields us from the same wounds and slow destruction. What signs have we ignored, responsibilities shrugged, excuses enabled and opportunities to impact and redirect have we simply dozed through.
Ease of divorce in several generations never tried by lack or want has birthed a self-centered hedonism bent on “my needs”. Cleaver counselors of mental health and the law have effected self-serving rationalizations around a supposed “children’s best interest”. Facilitating a society where the single, blended and step now out number the traditional and programs of social welfare serve to preserve the damage. Sadly the church shows no better record as their divorce rate is statistically the same or higher.
Where in this then is the hope?
The hope lies in what is imparted to the little heart of Danny Lynn and every child we bare. The hope lies in embracing the individual responsibilities and relationships, especially as fathers, that we seek and purpose to found. Even with God Himself we must devalue the institutions and labels, lay down the self-serving traditions and Sunday charades and make our relationship personal, renewing and restorative.
Much could be impacted back through the voyeurism that surrounds Danny Lynn should she find her way into a nurturing home with loving parents and especially a loving father. We need not make our own hope and healing vicarious however. Anna Nichole’s fall stands as testimony to the weakness and futility of image, acclaim and success to deliver wholeness, happiness and love. The vacuum that claimed her will only be filled by those who willingly put others needs before their own and it all starts at home.
Self-fulfillment is only a crafty facade that makes it impossible to be there for those that need us. How much hope can one really find in a life lived to love and nurture others? I cannot fully say outside of personal faith and the effort to be purposefully present for my family. I know however that the fulfillment thing is growing as sure as the kids are.
How much hope does one child deserve? Only as much as we stick around to give them. Anna Nicole’s life and fading image reminds us of the consequence of turning away. To glean just this much might save a thousand Vicky Lynn Hogans.