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Why you're not seeing Biden today: how his personal losses can help America navigate its own grief

In a time of widespread pain, loss, and grief, a country needs compassionate leadership. Partisan prejudices aside, Joe Biden is probably the most personally qualified to lead the nation through our most painful period of the pandemic.

What you see in the photo above is 30-year-old Joe Biden sitting by a hospital bed with his two young sons a week before Christmas in 1972. His wife Neilia had been driving the boys and their baby sister to get a Christmas tree when their car was struck by a tractor-trailer. The boys—almost 4-year-old Beau and almost 3-year-old Hunter—were seriously injured. Neilia and Naomi, the 13-month-old baby, were pronounced dead on arrival.

So here was a man who just lost his wife and baby girl, looking at his two young sons, trying to cope with the overwhelming grief and shock of it all. The loss itself is hard to fathom. The whole new reality of immediately becoming a single father of two young sons had to have been daunting.

It's extra tragic when we add that Biden had been elected to the U.S. Senate just six weeks before. This was supposed to be a holiday of extra celebration for the Bidens as they embarked on a whole new journey as a family.


His inauguration took place two weeks after the accident, in the hospital room where Beau and Hunter were still being treated for their injuries.

The whole story is just unbelievably tragic. Losing a spouse, losing a child, and starting a new job are each humongous life stressors individually. Dealing with all three at once is truly hard to imagine, especially while also parenting two preschool-aged children.

Today marks the 48th anniversary of Neilia and Naomi's deaths. Biden and his wife Jill, who he married five years after the accident, spent the morning at mass. There are no public events scheduled for the president-elect today, which is pretty unusual for him during the transition period but honestly good to see on this day. Anyone who has experienced the pain of such a loss knows that grief changes over the years, but it never goes away. He will never be a man who didn't lose a wife and child. That loss will be with him forever, and that pain should be acknowledged and honored.

Why does all of this matter?

We have lost more than 300,000 Americans to the coronavirus pandemic. We are currently losing more than 3000 a day, and we may see double that daily death toll in the coming weeks or months. There's a good chance that we're all going to lose someone to COVID-19 before this is over, and many Americans will lose multiple close loved ones. Some already have.

The losses of the pandemic are real, and the denial of so many only adds to the pain. We lost nearly 3000 Americans on 9/11 nearly 20 years ago, and we still grapple with that emotional loss on the anniversary each year. How much greater will the grieving process be when we're losing more than that number of people every single day?

As a nation, we have not been led through the grief that inevitably comes with such loss. We need compassionate leadership as America grapples with the pain of this period in our history, and who better to help us through it than someone with compassion that comes from experience? Biden's personal tragedies are nothing to celebrate, but having worked his way through them, he's especially suited to offer what the country needs—hope.

As Joe Biden honors the loss of his wife and daughter on this day, he also stands as a living example of resilience. His long and storied life shows how someone can feel all of the feelings and experience all of the pain of intense tragedy, continue to honor that loss, and yet also move forward. One does not negate the other.

We even saw Joe Biden go through another terrible loss when his son Beau died of brain cancer at age 46 in 2015. Losing a child is the worst kind of pain, no matter what their age. Our children are supposed to outlive us—that's the natural order of things—and it throws everything into disarray when they don't.

Having a leader who has dealt with that kind of grief more than once, who has worked through multiple tragedies at the same time, who has done so while working in the highest levels of government seems—and who still somehow manages to stay positive and forward-thinking—should give us all a sense of hope as our country makes its way through this crisis. In fact, we've already seen him put that hope into action for families affected by the pandemic.

Compassion and resilience born from experiencing intense hardship make for a unique kind of strength—just the kind of strength we need to see from our leadership right now.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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