In Remembrance

Corey Perrine/Staff
Melanie Fishel is seen contemplating at the headstone of her her late son, Stephen, Wednesday, June 15, 2011 in Augusta, Ga. She and her husband, Richard, are still dealing, emotionally, with the loss of their son, 16, who drowned in the Savannah River May 30, 2009. Melanie says she used to come everyday for a year but now comes once a month. She comes and talks to Stephen in conversation about her day and express her love. "I know he's in heaven having the time of his life. But you know what? I'm selfish." Melanie said. "I want him, I want him here with me. I want to hold him again. And see him at the end of the table. I want to get on him for not cleaning his room or...everything."

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.

 

Best,

 

Corey Perrine

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