Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Tears

Late this afternoon, I was at the office looking over some photos Ben took in Gonaives. This little boy, eyes filled with sorrow as he stared at the camera from the confines of his mud-filled home. Ken, our production guy, was there and studying them. I pointed out the little boy and started talking about Rosemarie, the woman who watched her children drown, minutes after the 4-year-old asked her, "Mommy, are you going to leave us here to die? Are you going to save us?"

I couldn't go on. I got choked up. Ran to my office and knew the damn would burst. So I left the office. Drove to publix, sat in the parking lot.

And I cried. And cried.

I guess it was some time in coming, those tears. I kept seeing Rosemarie's haunted face, that blank look of shock. In my mind, I saw her children, crying and so very scared, sitting on the wall, waiting for Mommy to come save them. Then the wall collapses and they drown.

And I wonder, does anyone really care? Yes, some people do, but hell, sometimes I feel like the world shakes its head and passes by in oblivious disregard. Yes, maybe something I write will raise money to feed this woman, and what is left of her family. But it will never replace her kids. Never.

Years ago, a newspaper editor where I worked told me he feared I wouldn't last at my current job. He said I was too sensitive. Doing this kind of work, seeing nothing but heartache and misery and suffering, he predicted, "You'll burn out in a year."

Next month, I'll be here 11 years. Haven't burnt out. Yet. But oh, sometimes, it hurts. It really hurts. So I leave, cry and then go on. Just like they do. Just like Rosemarie must do.

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