Working in news, you have to be detached, even jaded.
You must be bitter, hardened and borderline soulless.
People cope by making dead baby jokes and cracks about crackheads.
I am just as guilty as the next guy.
But, there are days when the stories we cover feel absolutely unbearable. The weight of cruelty crushes your spirit. The injustices, the death of innocence piles up and blinds you to the good in the world.
Today was one of those days.
An unthinkable crime. A father clutches his 5-year old daughter to his chest, lifts her up, then throws her off a 60-foot high bridge into the frigid water to her death.
I first read the headline when I woke up at 5:30 a.m.
It was easily shoved into the back of my brain as I worked out, showered, got dressed and drove to work.
Then, I arrived at work and had no choice but to listen to the coverage of the story. I could feel the tears begin to well up.
Then, I see the first pictures of the little girl. Her name is Phoebe and she’s a cherubic little blonde.
Then, I hear the owner of the daycare she attended talking about how she was terrified of water.
Now, I can’t STOP crying.
The terror she must have felt. Did she survive the fall? Did she struggle to swim? What went through her mind when she realized her own father had just sealed her fate?
MAKE IT STOP.
I could say this makes me want to rush home and hold my children. It does, but it doesn’t make up for the gnawing sorrow in the pit of my stomach, the grieving for a child I’ve never met.
The worst thing I’ve ever had the urge to do to my own children is drop an F-bomb in front of them.
This is unfathomable.
I did see a wonderful post on Facebook where a man similarly darkened by the cloud of gloom suggested everyone use it as an opportunity to post one thing they love about their child.
Just one? Impossible!
I love that my son randomly pets my arm while we sit together on the couch, then looks at me out of the corner of his eye and smiles so I will know that it’s no accident.
I love that my daughter asks every night if it’s my turn to put her to bed and when it is she shouts “Yesss!” and runs to hug me.
I love that my son really believes that if he wears Batman pajamas that he IS Batman.
I love that my daughter demands we call her “Flash.”
I love that my daughter wants to cook me with every night and when that’s actually a realistic option, she squeezes my legs and says, “I love you, mommy.”
I love that my son comes to his sister’s defense when we say she’s being naughty. “Alma’s not bad. Alma’s good!” (Even when she was in trouble for hitting him.)
I love that my daughter asks me if I’m “okay” when I lose at a game.
I love that my son doesn’t just give you a half-assed hug when you ask for one. They’re long and warm and heartfelt.
I love that my daughter is under the impression she can run incredibly fast when in reality it’s more of an awkward sprint.
I love that my son can’t sit still for more than a few minutes before asking, “Wanna play ball?” or “Want punching time?”
I love that my daughter asks a million annoying questions and when you finally give her a real and complicated answer, her eyes get big like her mind just got BLOWN.
I love that when she asks my son for a turn politely, he hands over whatever is, no matter what it is and without argument.
I could go on forever… and now I feel, only slightly better about the world, but fantastic about MY world.
January 8, 2015 at 9:08 pm
When my father drowned me in a lake near a friends home I felt the pain of his fingers digging into my chest and arm as he hurled me away from him. It wasn’t the first time he had hurt me, I thought little about him, this was our normal. Pain at the hands of my father was a usual part of my life. I felt the the sting of my body hitting the water like a belly flop multiplied. Terror, but not for long, burning eyes & lungs coughing, mud in my mouth, burning but then came sweet darkness like falling asleep in a warm bed. A very simple drifting, thoughtless rest. It was the first time in my life I was ever pain free. Death felt good… (my uncle fished me out and resuscitated me. I think the resuscitation was more painful and traumatic than drowning had been). You asked what she felt and thought. I don’t know but this is what I felt and thought. A man seldom arrives at the point of killing a child in a few seconds time. It’s likely this little one has been abused for a good long while.
January 9, 2015 at 10:47 pm
Made me cry all over again. Beautifully written, painful to read but I’m so glad you’re here to write those words.
January 9, 2015 at 10:52 pm
Sorry, it made you cry. I’m glad I made it through but it would not have been so very awful for me if I had not been brought back. In many ways it would have been more merciful for my uncle to have left me than to have brought me back and handed me back to my parents like he did. Like they most always do.
January 9, 2015 at 3:29 am
This is beautiful! ♡