With a little preparation and some research prior to an interview, it is relatively easy to gain the perspective needed from individuals to write a well thought out feature article that not only stimulates the reader’s mind but informs the heart as well. It is our hope, that these stories inspire others and opens the door into other’s lives thus gaining a viewpoint one would not have otherwise.
There are, however, some lives whose stories are dabbled with challenge - and no amount of planning and research can prepare the writer to capture the richness of that individual’s journey. In this week’s publication, the story that made me stop in my tracks was my interview with five-year-old Griffin Cochrane and his family. Griffin, who has leukemia, will receive a portion of the funds raised by the 10th annual Kelli’s 5K.
At the present time, Griffin is in the midst of a daunting three-and one-half year chemotherapy treatment program. I try to tread lightly in these types of interviews. “Do I ask too many personal questions,” I asked Melissa Hutchinson after the Cockrane family left our meeting. Melissa is Kelli’s mother of which the 5K is named. Melissa has received the brunt of my stumbling in the dark Q/A sessions a multitude of times, so I trusted her feedback.
“I remember the first time you interviewed me; it was so painful. But then I read the article afterwards….and….” she then touched her heart to signify that I was able to capture a bit of the truth. I secretly hoped Griffin’s mother and family would feel the same way.
One thing I’ve noticed when I interview people going through extraordinarily painful circumstances is that I have never once, in the almost four years of writing for The Windham Eagle newspaper, heard the question: “Why me?” Not once.
In her book, “An Alter in the World”, Barbara Brown Taylor points out something important regarding that question many of us have asked at one time or another when life throws us excruciating curveballs. “[This] is a natural question to ask when you are in pain, but they are just as relevant when you are in pleasure. Who deserves a warm bath on a cold night after a hard day’s work? Who has earned the smell of a loved one, embracing you on your first night back at home?”
In 53 years, I’ve never had surgery or spent one night in the hospital. Why me? I can see the purple hues of a fall sunset with my own eyes. Why me? I can hear a cardinal in the background as I type this Insight. Why me? I can smell the earth when I walk in the nature preserve near my home. Why me? What did I do to deserve these wonderful things? I don’t know the answers except that I now know that on those painful “stub your toe” sort of days, I won’t be as quick to ask the question, “Why me?”