She died before we could fall in love. But she taught me one important thing.

Beth Atkinson died. She was one of the best first dates I ever had.

It was a long time ago, so we met the old-fashioned way — on Match.com. We had coffee at Mercury Cafe on Chicago Avenue. We laughed so loudly we made the other patrons blush. You could tell they were merely pretending to study or work, peering up from their books and laptops to witness the splendor of a first date gone well.

After that, we rode our bikes to a taco place and talked about our dreams. She wanted to move to France someday. I did this thing I sometimes do where I look at someone I’ve just met and mentally picture what they might look like in 30 years. Where will the wrinkles settle around that smile? Then we went to my place and made out on my couch.


"When can I see you again?" she asked me. This was what I liked about Beth. Most people were too busy protecting themselves to be direct. Beth made unflinching eye contact when she spoke to you. I envied the congruence she conveyed between her internal and external worlds.

I was moving to another apartment in a couple of days. So, we’d have to wait until after that.

We exchanged text messages for a couple of weeks, delaying our second date due to minor inconveniences and somewhat-full schedules.

Then, Beth stopped responding.

Beth’s roommate, Julia, happened to be a barista at a cafe I frequented. "I haven’t seen you for a few weeks. Did you take a vacation?" I inquired. I fought through the embarrassment that Julia probably knew I had gone out with Beth and that she knew what horrible thing I must have said or did — or what gaping personality flaw or physical deformity I must have had — to make her stop returning my messages.

While removing a biscotto from a jar, tongs in hand, Julia froze and turned ghost white. "You didn’t hear about Beth?"

I hardly knew Beth. But I knew her in ways that her closest friends didn’t know her.

Normally, when someone you care about passes away, you have friends and family in common to commiserate with about the departed.

I didn’t have those outlets as I grieved Beth. The funeral had passed. It seemed perverse to try to talk to Julia because she had been riding with Beth during the bicycle accident. It felt selfish to seek solace from a near stranger who had known her so deeply and experienced the tragedy so closely.

As I sat in my dark apartment with a glass of gin by my side, I read Beth’s mother’s wailing Facebook updates. The contrast in loss was cartoonish. How much of my grief was for Beth, and how much of it was just grief for myself?

I wrote to Match.com to let them know what had happened to Beth. Her profile was gone within 30 minutes. I wondered about the other guys who might be disappointed to see her disappear.

When I see people treat each other flippantly, like e-commerce items they can customize with a swipe, I wish they could learn what I learned from Beth:

Whenever I’m tempted — by what I think I want from the world — to forget someone’s humanity or to fool myself into shying away from a real connection, I remember Beth’s blazing blue eyes, patiently locked with mine, awaiting my response.

More


Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Amy Johnson

The first day of school can be both exciting and scary at the same time — especially if it's your first day ever, as was the case for a nervous four-year-old in Wisconsin. But with a little help from a kind bus driver, he was able to get over his fear.

Axel was "super excited" waiting for the bus in Augusta with his mom, Amy Johnson, until it came time to actually get on.

"He was all smiles when he saw me around the corner and I started to slow down and that's when you could see his face start to change," his bus driver, Isabel "Izzy" Lane, told WEAU.

The scared boy wouldn't get on the bus without help from his mom, so she picked him up and carried him aboard, trying to give him a pep talk.

"He started to cling to me and I told him, 'Buddy, you got this and will have so much fun!'" Johnson told Fox 7.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared