Parents Twitter Their Daughters Final Days

10 months ago, 2-year-old Layla Grace was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a form of cancer. The prognosis was dim; Layla would probably lose this battle with her disease. As Layla’s parents struggled to appreciate the remaining days they had left with their daughter, they decided to share their grief in a decidedly 21st century way.

They twittered.

On the Twitter page Layla with Cancer, Layla’s parents documented Lalya’s diminishing health as they watched their child weaken with disease. I don’t mean for that to sound macabre; many of the twitter posts are beautiful and heartbreaking. Posts like:

Holding Layla, drinking Diet Coke, waiting for the snow to fall (in Houston!!) and listening to Eric Clapton’s “Layla”. Wonderful day!! 3:06 PM Feb 23rd via Tweetie

Layla is still in her bed peacefully sleeping like an angel on earth. Can’t wait until she wakes up so I can hold her!! 7:26 AM Mar 4th via Tweetie

Five days after that last post, Layla was gone:

Layla went to play with the angels early this morning. Rest in peace precious Layla. 11/26/2007 – 3/9/2010 10:43 AM Mar 9th via web

It’s hard stuff to read. The feed keeps coming as Layla’s parents describe not being able to sleep at night and making funeral arrangements.

Layla’s twitter has over 48,000 followers. Celebrities such as Ryan Seacrest and Paris Hilton became followers.

Before Twitter, never has the world been able to watch a family in their most intimate and painfully personal moments in real time. It’s hard to say if we are ready for this. While lovely in concept, for some it might feel strange, even wrong to virtually watch a child wither away. Of course, everyone who followed Layla only did so in support of the small child (okay, I can’t know the intentions of over 48,000 people, but I’m guessing even the nastiest of Internet trolls would not bomb  a dying child’s Twitter feed). Which brings up a central question in today’s internet culture: with so many people willing to share the most private details of their lives, just because you have their permission is it still okay to watch?

Links:
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