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Archive for November, 2014

Choose benevolence over blame

Dear Fellow Humans,

I know it’s been a rough couple of days for Joshua Powell’s friends and family. I haven’t felt too great myself. I’ve been thinking about Joshua almost every minute. Images flash constantly in my mind: his black mesh backpack, the collar of his green school shirt, that math book, his pale wrists. I feel pain as acutely as if I were part of his family.

WTOC shared a photograph.

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Look at his sweet face. You know he had a great personality. I just can’t bear it that he’s gone.

I also can’t bear all the comments people have been posting on the stories about the accident: allotting blame to the driver, the bus company, the city and — worst of all — his parents.

This has to stop.

When did we become a society so quick to assign blame? Has this always been a standard reaction and I just never noticed?

It was an accident. A tragedy. A horrible mistake. No one did anything out of malice or ill will.

I get it: It’s easier to process if we can find someone at fault. We need a scapegoat. But we should be outraged that it happened, not outraged and finding someone to blame.

Yes, perhaps that area should be marked better for drivers to know that it is a school bus stop. Yes, kids need to look both ways before crossing the street. But I have two kids and I know sometimes they don’t think; they just do.

My boys have done some crazy things. I’m lucky something like this hasn’t happened to them.

What his family needs — what we all need as humans — is love and support. Save the rage and the holier-than-thou attitude.

Anger has not been the top emotion cycling through me for the past two days. Overwhelming sadness takes that spot.

I was a daily news reporter for many years, covering the cop and court beat. I saw many awful things. This beats everything, probably because now I’m a mom. It’s different now.

I feel cut open and raw. I can’t even imagine how his mom feels.

Even now, though, I can tell my mind is trying to pack this memory away — to compartmentalize it with the other painful memories of things that cannot be unseen. I’m reminded of the ending of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

But part of me wants to keep the box open, the wound fresh as a reminder to love, to connect, to support. And this is why I’m writing this post.

We humans must choose compassion over criticism. We are all in this life together. We must do this for Joshua, who is gone too soon.

This is my therapy. This is my call to arms. This is what I will teach my children.

Sorry (not sorry) for being preachy,
Beth

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Life can change in a second

Dear Parents,

Hug your children a little tighter today. There are parents in pain because they lost their son this morning.

I was taking my boys to school and came upon an accident seconds after it happened. Quick assessment of the scene: woman in the street on her phone, bus coming out of a neighborhood on my left, one car in front of me. Around that car, I could see someone’s feet. The way the person was lying there, I knew it was bad. No one had gone to help, even though there were people at the scene.

I parked the car, grabbed a blanket from my trunk, told my boys to stay in the car, and headed over. It was a little boy, not much older than Dominic. He was lying facedown and his shoes had been knocked off. He was wearing shorts on this very cold morning. I covered his legs and body with the blanket.

The woman who hit him was on the phone with 911. She was screaming and crying — begging me to find a pulse. His wrists were cold. I couldn’t find any movement. He was wearing two hoodies, and I tried to get my fingers under them to feel his neck. His neck was warm. I thought maybe I felt a faint pulse. I couldn’t be sure. His left hand had some skin missing but he wasn’t bleeding.

The other people at the scene came over. A neighbor ran up and asked if we knew who he was. None of us did. We didn’t want to turn him over to see his face because we didn’t want to hurt him more. The lady checked the backpack he was wearing and got his name off his school papers. I saw a math book. A green notebook. She said his name: Joshua Powell. She went to find his parents.

I rubbed his cold hand as we waited for the emergency responders. I knew he might already be gone but I asked him to hold on just in case.

The fire truck was the first to arrive. They took over. The police and paramedics were next.

There was nothing else for me to do but go back to the car. My poor boys were in shock. I gave them each a hug and a kiss and told them what I saw. What I knew. What I thought. We cried a little together.

Joshua died before he even got to the hospital. My heart hurts for his family and the lady who hit him. They will never be the same. Neither will I.

Give your children a little extra squeeze for me. Say it’s for Joshua.

Love to you all,
Beth

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Dear Men:

I am so angry right now. I need to vent. Why?

Because you don’t live in fear of being attacked and raped like women do. It is a part of our lives and it sucks.

Tonight I had a scary encounter as I walked back from having dinner at a delightful Ethiopian restaurant. (Side note: One of the perks of my constant travel is that I can eat where I want to eat. I can’t ever find anyone who will eat Ethiopian food with me. Eddie said the bread reminds him of human skin.)

My friends know me as a tough chick. I am well traveled and rarely afraid. Of course, I don’t put myself in risky situations either.

I learned the hard way that women are easy targets after one night in college when I was assaulted in downtown Atlanta. So I know to be on guard.

After dinner tonight, I walked back to my hotel on a bright, heavily trafficked street. An older gentleman who appeared to be drunk walked toward me. When I passed, he turned around and followed me. I stopped, turned around and made eye contact. He stopped and started walking the other way. When I began walking again, I could hear him begin to follow me again, his shuffling picking up speed as I walked faster. It was like “The Walking Dead.”

When I had nearly reached a populated crosswalk and he had almost caught up to me, I turned around again and backed up to a building to let him pass me. He looked at me and tried to stop to talk. I waved him off and said, “Go on. Get away from me. You’re giving me the creeps.”

Two fellows pulled up in a white sedan and asked if I was OK, was the guy bothering me. They offered me a ride. They looked perfectly normal, but I declined.

Luckily, my hotel was only a block away and I made it back without further incident. I’m safe. (Clearly, as I’m able to write about it.)

Here is the truth, Men: I didn’t want to stay on the street with a weird dude but I also didn’t want to get into a car with two men I didn’t know.

Imagine if you had been me and the people you encountered were women. I doubt any of you would have been concerned about either scenario.

It pisses me off that women have to worry about these things on a regular basis. It’s not freakin’ fair.

Yeah, I know: Life’s not fair.

I blame Obamacare. And penises.

(Maybe I should thank that disturbing dude for curing my blog writer’s block.)

Safe at last; safe at last,
Beth

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