14 August 2009

A Reporter's Story...

I've always admired my friend Lonni, but never more so than now. I've known her for a long time, through thick and thin. And often it seemed to me that she had the thick, and I had the thin.
It can be difficult to like someone who is intelligent, tall, willowy and beautiful when it seems one is always struggling to keep up, tall, "muscular" and well put together... some days. But it would have been more difficult to not like Lonni.
I met her years ago when we were both beginning reporters in Las Vegas. I was a general assignment reporter for a competing station. One day, as we were both covering the opening of a new "cop shop" in the housing projects in North Las Vegas, I noticed something on the police department car. She had written her contact number on the car, presumably for the officers' convenience.
I stopped,leaned over and added the words, "For a good time, call:" above her name and number.
Yeah, I was a little jealous. Maybe even a little intimidated. To say I had issues in those days would have been an understatement. But Lonni always seemed to gently look past that with me.
We both moved on from Las Vegas. I went to anchor in the midwest. She moved to an investigative reporting position in Phoenix, Arizona.
We didn't bump into each other again until years later, when she and a friend turned up at the church I was attending in Washington, DC. I immediately invited her and the friend over for dinner. They took me up on it.
We had a great time, catching up. She was working at KCBS in Los Angeles as part of the investigative reporting unit. I was working for Hearst Television as a national correspondent. We were on pretty level ground, and moreover, maybe I was starting to grow up. Lunch was nothing fancy. Just a barbecued chicken, served on some Asian-style noodles and a salad, if I recall.
Lonni seemed a little paler than I previously recalled. Most television reporters are gregarious, fun-loving types, with boundless energy and endless wit. She had the wit, but her energy seemed a bit flagging.
She explained she'd felt a little off for some time and the doctors were working on finding what was wrong. She and her friend left early and returned to where they were staying in order to let her rest.
A short time later, she was diagnosed with a parasitic infection brought on by a bug bite during a reporting trip to Haiti. Her health would never be as good as it was, but they caught it in time. She would survive.
The resulting slowdown gave her male friend a chance to end his long pursuit and finally catch her. They married a short time later. She later told me that they spent their honeymoon with her throwing up, and him holding her hair back and flushing.
I visited them at their home in Phoenix. It was a tiny little place, but together they had made it into almost an Enchanted Cottage. They seemed blissful. And when I quietly inquired with him about future children, he told me maybe they would have them "when Lonni gets better." But he also admitted, her health would never get better.
Still they seemed so happy. And a few years later, her doctor allowed that perhaps the infusion of hormones associated with pregnancy would actually improve her health. They leaped at the possibility and soon were thrilled to welcome their first child: a beautiful daughter.
Then a second daughter. And a third.
Lonni laughingly said that her husband was immersed in estrogen. He was surrounded by a wife, three beautiful daughters, and even a female dog. They seemed again, the picture of bliss.
So it was a surprise, as I mentioned in the earlier blog that they were pregnant. And all their friends were thrilled for them to learn the baby was to be a son.
The pregnancy was troubled, but they got through it. Earlier this week, after ten weeks in the hospital, Lonni delivered a baby boy that at first seemed healthier than anyone could have dreamed. They joyfully posted the pictures on their blog. (I won't post a link. I'm sharing their story, but not wishing to blast away their privacy.)
I looked at the pictures and wondered. There was something unusual about the shape of the infant's fingers. I felt an immediate sense of worry. There was a sense of dread when her blog reported that "tests are being done. The results will be in on Friday."
This morning I saw the results were posted. It is as I suspected. The beautiful baby boy so long dreamed and prayed for is still a beautiful baby boy, but he will have his challenges. He has Down Syndrome.
As a child, I associated Down Syndrome children with baby birds, somehow connecting the childlike attitude and innocence that they retain throughout their lives with the down of a baby bird. Like a baby bird that grows up, but beneath the feathers remains the down. Just so do their bodies grow up, but beneath it all, the childlike innocence. And I have seen the truth and reality of this situation in a family member's son.
I know my friend can handle this. I know that she is capable and wise and will learn everything that she needs to know to be everything that boy and the rest of her family need her to be. I just wanted so much for her... and them... not to have to pass through this.
And I know that every situation and life has its own unique problems. Professionally, I've always known that every job has its own black bag of uglies. Some, more than others it has seen. It reminds me of a little embroidered sampler kit someone gave me as a child. I stitched it up and hung it on the wall in all the places I've lived.
"If all our troubles were hung on a line, you would take yours and I would take mine."
I'm sure today more than most, Lonni would agree. Her blog explaining this new information about her son doesn't complain. It's simply titled, "Our Life Has Changed."
And so it has, Lonni. And so it has.

1 comment:

Rod said...

Nicely written! The complete poem which you referenced is very apropos.

I’d Chose Mine
If all our troubles were hung on a line
You would choose yours and I would choose mine
For all the sudden we would see
Our troubles don't seem so monsterly.

When your troubles feel overwhelming
And all you achievements seem to be sinking,
Think of how they'd look on a line;
Next to everyone else’s, I'd choose mine.

Our troubles sometimes appear to grow
When looked at through the world's view, you know.
They seem to expand, but on the line,
You would choose yours and I would choose mine.

God knows what is best, in this we must trust
In His own good time, He'll calm the dust
For this reason, if on the line,
You would choose yours and I would choose mine.