A teenage girl finally had her first kiss. Then she went home and died. It's almost too romantic for words, but this isn't a story about a kiss.
The story goes that Jemma Benjamin waited until she was 18 to feel a boy's lips on hers, and less than an hour later, she was dead. Technically, it wasn't the kiss itself. Benjamin suffered from "Sudden Adult Death Syndrome," a rare heart condition (it's also known as sudden arrhythmia death syndrome) that kills someone who looks completely healthy in something like six hours.
Kissed near the front door of her boyfriend's apartment, Benjamin went inside, lay down on the sofa, and collapsed. She was dead on arrival at the hospital despite no history of heart issues.
I'm very happy for her that she won't have "never been kissed" on her grave, but I'm not going to romanticize that peck on the pucker. It's a heartbreaker -- no pun intended -- that Benjamin was just 18 years old. She leaves behind devastated parents, and she's missing out, quite literally, on a full life.
Recent data has claimed the first kiss is more or less the be all and end all of romance. People are more likely to remember it in detail than their first sexual experience. It's the stuff of poems and songs. But it's just one moment in time, folks. I remember in detail only two of my first kisses, neither of which counts as my official "first kiss." And let's not forget how many folks out there have never, ever had a smacker on the lips. Nuns. Priests. All doing just fine without it.
Maybe I'm simply a realist, but I had to take my rose-colored glasses off for this one and stick to the facts. A horrible disease killed a child, and it's one that might be preventable. So let's stop looking at the kiss, and focus on how to keep your kids safe from SADS.
Can we make sure Jemma Benjamin is more than one kiss? Spread the word about SADS, and we can.
Image via apdk/Flickr