The story of 7-year-old Anmaria Johnson who died of an allergic reaction to peanuts at her Virginia school this week is just sad all the way around. I’ve been avoiding reading the comment section on the stories because I just wasn’t up for feeling even sadder. As more details came out about how the little girl didn’t have an epipen at school and how the school staff didn’t respond to the reaction as quickly as they could have, I decided to take a quick peek to see how others were reacting. Here’s one place I looked: http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/05/9979458-virgina-first-grader-dies-from-allergic-reaction-at-school . As I suspected, an impassioned debate was going on in the comment section between the blame-the-mom and blame-the-school sides with a few “I-don’t-believe-in-food-allergy” replies thrown in. That last one always gets me. Do you not believe in hives, shortness of breath or heart attacks either? There was less of that nonsense this time once everyone seemed to agree that the child died after eating. I stopped reading before I got to the Darwin response. You know the one where some troublemaker says no one had food allergies when he was a kid and maybe kids with food allergies should be allowed to die all in the name of natural selection and improvement of the species. Then they usually add something about how parents should at least have the sense to homeschool the kids with allergies if they must continue to exist. If you don’t believe me, google almost any story about a proposed peanut ban. You’ll see this kind of reaction or some variation always comes around eventually. A lot of these responses are just so wrongheaded they don’t deserve a reply. I for the most part don’t bother. In this case, what a disservice all that pettiness does to that little girl’s memory. By all accounts she was caring and compassionate, an eager friend and helper to her first-grade classmates. I hope the lesson, if there has to be one from this tragedy, is that food allergies are real, that managing them successfully is complex and that schools and parents need to find better ways to work together so everyone stays safe. I know it may seem self-serving since I am the parent of a child with a potentially life-threatening food allergy, but I wish we could all have more compassion for each other and speak more kindly to each other when we are discussing stories like this, maybe especially stories like this, which painfully illustrate just how precious and short life can be.