Originally written May 8, 2013.
I’m a busy student. I read chapters, take exams, procrastinate on papers and projects until the night before, and, on more occasions than I would like to admit, I arrive late to class. But I am more than just that. I’m a son, a brother, and a friend. Last night on my way home from class, a news story broke out on the radio. Three girls that had been missing for years had been rescued from captivity. Amanda Berry, missing for ten years, Gina DeJesus, missing for nine years, and Michelle Knight, missing for ten years. All three women had been kidnapped and held captive by three brothers, men in their fifties, in Cleveland, Ohio. The BBC report was relatively short on more information as the story had broke earlier that day.
My initial reaction was shock. How awful of an experience it must have been for the families looking for these girls. And how remarkable it was that a missing girl was found – let alone three. Missing girls are rarely found alive, if at all. The confusing and bittersweet reunion between them and their families must be so heartbreaking.
Then, came into mind was a photograph I have seen in a blog post. The post was a listing of the blogger’s top nine provoking images. The images were all emotional in their own right, ranging from a small boy trying to drag a man up by a shirt to an old man with a cane kneeling and sobbing next to an armored tank. Below the images were a numbered brief description of what had been going on in each shot when they had been taken. As they were all striking descriptions and images, only one truly stayed with me: number two.
In image two, there’s a tree in the middle with a red streamer cording off the left area. To the left and in front of the red streamer is a white, stocky, middle-aged police officer in an uncomfortable stance. His red face is tipped upwards and his hands are grasping his utility belt. To the left is a white, muscular, teenaged boy in a white tank and jeans. While sitting up, the boy looks as if he was pushed to the ground, clutching his chest and his mouth hanging open, as if to be gasping for breath. When I first saw the image I distinctively remember feeling uncomfortable. It wasn’t until I read the caption when I realized why. “2) Kid just found out his brother was shot and killed.” That put a lump in my throat.
I don’t care to speculate how I would react should anything happen to any of my siblings. Although I don’t hold strong ties to all of them, the loss of any of them is unfathomable. Life would be off-kilter without my laconic younger brother Robert. And we have younger sisters, Janelle and Brianna, who are the light of our parents’ eyes. They are both so young, smart, promising, and innocent, should anything bad happen to one or the other would mean the utter decimation of our family unit.
Loss is a heavy thing. It may feel like the end of your world, but I believe in hope. It’s what undoubtedly kept those girls alive. I hope that boy from the photograph is okay too. And I hope I remember to hug my brother and sisters and tell them that I love them. And do it often.
♤Updated on June 30, 2012.
I stumbled upon the article that the photograph of the boy was from. The crazy thing about it is that it was a news story that occurred in the city that I live in, San José. Now it hits even closer to home.