At times, the sadness is just too much. Too much pain, too much suffering, too much destruction, too much to bear. This week is too much. Boston and Texas and conspiracies, and explosions, and death. I feel like just shouting to the heavens “ENOUGH!” How much can suffering souls take? I have seen it before– the look in the face of someone who has just been told the unthinkable. Their loved one, their heart and soul, their everything, gone. All gone.
I’ve done it more times than I can count– interviewed a mother, father, spouse, child– in their darkest hour. What can I say when a reporter is the last person they want to see? And so, sometimes I say nothing. Sometimes I just simply say “I’m so, so, so sorry.” Always, I cry, at times with them, but usually when the camera turns off, and I’m finally alone. And I pray– pray that I will do their story justice, that it will bring them comfort, that some goodness will come out of so much bad, and that the right words will come to me when my head is filled with too much information.
It’s times like these I am reminded of an interview several years ago with family of a young man who died unexpectedly while swimming with a group of friends at a popular lake. He was a star athlete, a straight A student, and no doubt had the world at his feet. He was swimming in a group when he suddenly went under, not to resurface. This beautiful boy was gone in an instant, and his family was suffering a pain I cannot imagine.
I was tasked with knocking on his door. It is, without a doubt, the worst part of my job. As I gently knocked, I prayed no one would answer, but to my dread, his brother came to the door. “I know I am the last person you want to see,” I quickly said “and if you want me to leave, I will in a heartbeat.” He kindly asked what he could help me with. I’m wondering if you would be willing to tell me about your brother.” His kind, tear strewn face sadly smiled as he told me and my photographer to come inside. He and his family took us into this special young man’s bedroom, where family and friends had gathered to remember all the good that he was. They openly shared memories, heartache, and love for their lost son and brother with me. It was truly a spiritual experience. Their resilience and kindness when they had every reason to cry out in anger and defeat has left a lasting impression.
I have seen much suffering in my line of work, but I have also had the honor of witnessing true bravery. Forgiveness from parents whose beautiful daughters died after a horrible mistake by a pesticide technician. Perspective from a sweet man who not only lost his business in a devastating fire, but also his son-in-law and niece in the same week. Peace from a father who lost his entire family in a car accident caused by a drunk driver.
Sometimes there isn’t a reason. Sometimes there is just pain and too much is just too much. But I believe there is always, always healing in the end.
*The American Red Cross will no doubt be in need of both blood and funds. You can learn more about donating here.