I think the hardest part of being a journalist is reliving pain with others. However, seeing the bigger picture - informing others despite this pain, in hopes that it generates conversation and awareness, makes the job rewarding.
The other day writer Kyle Martin and myself visited Melanie Fishel and her husband, Richard. The reason we were interviewing the Fishel's was a follow-up story on their son Stephen who tragically lost his life by drowning in 2009. http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/metro/2011-06-16/family-has-struggled-sons-2009-drowning-death
The mood was very somber as Kyle interviewed and I looked on and documented visually.
Toward the end of our visit, I asked Melanie when she'd be visiting again. She said, "At 6 p.m." I asked if I could tag along. She welcomed the notion.
At the cemetery, Melanie was not familiar with a lens pointed her way while talking to Stephen as she normally does. To ease this "eyes-on magnet," I told her I'd let her be alone. I went away out of eyesight for a couple minutes. I started in the distance and approached closer little by little. It was then, I was then able to ease into the situation as I saw her talk, laugh, pause, interact and be contemplative with Stephen.
Melanie was gracious and we talked amidst the peaceful summer evening.
Despite heavy heart, it was therapeutic. We said goodbyes and parted.
On my drive to my next assignment, I reflected and decompressed, thought about Melanie’s strength and the fragility of life. Ironically, it was to a class to teach adults how to swim.