Monday, April 16, 2007

It's a sad day in the news: over 30 people, apparently mostly students, killed at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg VA, and a young firefighter who died in the line of duty, also in Virginia. I held it together until I saw the firefighter's picture, so young and shaven like my Thomas, but this was someone else's child. I mourn for them all.

Also at the end of November of 2004, actress Susan St. James lost her 14 year old son Teddy in a small plane crash. Since Miss St. James's husband is a producer for NBC, I think it was Tim Russert who interviewed her a few days later for the evening news. She was wearing a baseball cap and her usual smile, though it was clearly not her usual smile and said they were doing all right but I thought to myself "Oh Susan, I don't think so" but I also knew she didn't have a choice. Empathy begins to work both ways: you don't want people to suffer as you are suffering because it would just be more than you can bear. I'm not putting this well: grief seems to reflect back so that you grieve for other people's grief. At some point, I felt that I had to break this chain and that I could break this chain: it made it possible for us to go back out into the world and take up a quasi-normal life.


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