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Friday, December 08, 2006

That's why it's called a tragedy

Lexi finished Tonight on the Titanic a while back during a marathon reading session--she can polish off little chapter books in one sitting if properly motivated (threatened). She was taken by this story and made up a little diddy to go with it. (There's a musical in the works.) But there was a lightness in her song, a detachment I recognized. I have a hard time digesting the number of deaths in Darfur or Baghdad; I can't wrap my mind around childhood prostitution in Thailand or even the loss of life and livelihood in our own country, in New Orleans. Peering through my TV or computer, it is an intellectual knowledge--I'm ashamed to admit the nightly news doesn't always stir my heart.

So, I watched James Cameron's The Titanic, moving through the inappropriate scenes, with Lexi. I remembered this movie as somewhat corny, with the main characters calling out to each other endlessly to the end. (Rose. Jack. Rose. Jack.) I forgot how powerful it could be, especially if you are a kid. Lexi could not stop trying to rewrite the ending of the story, although she knew how it would end.

Maybe another boat will make it in time...
They'll go back for the people in the water...
Maybe there are more lifeboats, they just don't know...
Mom, what will happen to those kids?...what will happen to that Mom and baby?

I wasn't trying to traumatize her; I wanted her to understand, as much as she can, that those numbers in her book stand her real people, with real hopes, real dreams. And all the errors of judgement had deadly consequences. It was a tragedy.

**********

I was home a lot this week, being sick and all. I followed the James and Kati Kim story, the San Francisco family that took a wrong turn in southern Oregon and found themselves stranded on a deserted road. I couldn't help thinking about what would I do if I were in their shoes. (And please spare me the 'I am smarter/better/wiser' so I would never be in such a situation, for we are all vulnerable and make mistakes.) Kati must have been so scared alone with her kids when her husband didn't return. He traveled over 10 miles in difficult terrain, determined to save his family.

I am a 8 year-old again:

What if they had just went home...
What if the road had been better marked...the fence intact...
What if he had been in the car when they were rescued...
And did he know his family was saved?...that he was near a lodge?

I know the outcome; I can't imagine the grief. With all the worlds' tragedies, this is a story I will not forget any time soon.

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