Sunday, June 24, 2012

In A Land Far Away

My father was lost, but never found, in the Korean War. Missing is quite different than killed. I could write a whole piece on that alone. For now, let me just say I have a shadow that follows me. It is the question never answered, it is the heartache born of what might have been and of what might have happened.

Last week was Father’s Day. My brother sent an innocent message: Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I cried, again, and wrote back “Why does it break my heart every time?” His answer was direct. “At some point, we will need to accept that he's gone.”

It was logical. It was the truth. It is something I will never be able to do.

I have, from the first day I remember, needed to know what happened to my father. I have spent the last two decades trying to find out. This process is a sad one. You learn enough to know there is more that must be told. You learn men were taken and never returned, and that your father might have been among them. You learn enough to never, ever, be able to let go.

About ten years ago, I was invited to participate in a Department of Defense delegation to North Korea. It would be a humanitarian mission, in search of cooperation in the effort to account for the 8,000 men who remain missing from the Korean War. For me it would be much more than that. North Korea has always been the frozen tundra that, in the dark of night, took my father without explanation. It is the place in which the truth lies, waiting.

I packed my bags to travel thousands of miles, a world away, and decades in time. I knew it would be a trip back to January 13, 1952, months before I was born, the night a part of me died.

As we prepared for landing in Pyongyang, I wondered if my arrival would be anything like that of my friend, Gerri, who had come on a similar mission a couple years before. When her plane hit the runway, men came running with hoses to put out fires that erupted here and there in the tires or engines or elsewhere on the plane. As she made her way into the terminal, there were no lights. When she fumbled her way into the ladies’ restroom, she found herself sloshing ankle deep in overflow from the hole in the ground that served as the toilet.

Now as we hit the runway, I readied myself to leap from flames and then to swim in waste. None of it would matter. After a lifetime of imagining the place, I was in North Korea. It might as well have been Oz.

Our landing was, actually, quite uneventful. Inside the building – I hesitate to call it a terminal – there was no public presence. There were no airlines coming and going, no commercial anything. The only sign of life came from a few men walking around, all of them wearing simple brown pants and a matching brown jacket. None of them acknowledged us. If I tried to make eye contact, they quickly looked away.

Our escort was military. They took us to a state-owned facility for official guests. It was sort of like a hotel, but it was definitely not open to the public. The building was situated on acreage down a long deserted road, which was guarded at its mouth by armed military personnel. Though simply outfitted, the residence was lovely. We were free to walk its grounds, which I did frequently. There was a body of water on the property that appeared to be a habitat for beautiful white cranes. The cranes were large and stately birds. One of our hosts told me that North Koreans believe the crane is the symbol of eternal life.

Our main purpose in North Korea was to visit the sight of ongoing remains recovery operations. U.S. teams were in-country searching for Americans who had been buried and left behind during the war. Two teams had been deployed, one to work burial sites in Unsan County and one to work near the Chosin Reservoir. Both locations had seen large battles between American and Chinese forces in the fall of 1950.

We flew by helicopter to the Chosin Reservoir. A flight attendant served us beverages and gave a speech about The Imperialist Americans and all that was wrong with our society. She offered many statistics, including the fact that 250,000 American women were sold into sex slavery each year. It was an odd kind of welcoming address.

The Chosin team was camped in the middle of nowhere. Armed guards encircled the place. We were told the guards were for our own protection because the local population hated Americans so much, but the guards and their guns were at all times facing inward.  

When we got to the recovery site, we walked to the edge of a grave. The top surface of a set of remains had been exposed. A farmer had found them while working his field. Apparently, a small group of Americans had come down the road from the reservoir to this farm and were ambushed by Chinese soldiers. The fallen man’s position in his grave told a harsh story. You could tell he had not been buried by friends or anyone who cared about him. He was not laid out. He’d obviously been tossed into a hole and covered over. He’d been cut down and disposed of without kindness, with no reverence. It was a sight no loved one should ever see.

We traveled the next day by vehicle to Unsan. The ride there took us through the western region, the area in which my father’s plane went down. Rice paddies and flowers lay amongst low rising hills. Scattered farmhouses with thatched roofs dotted the landscape. There were no vehicles anywhere and, what machinery we could see was handmade and primitive. It looked as though the country had stood still in time; the iron curtain drawn tight around it had kept out the trappings of progress.

Our vehicles stopped at the side of the road. One of the soldiers invited me to get out. He pointed off in the distance with a sweeping gesture. "Your father…here. His plane crashed somewhere here.”

My legs felt wooden as I walked into a field through tall waving flowers that whispered against each other in the breeze. There was nothing around. My mind traveled back, as if in a time machine. It went to that night, when their engines stopped and the plane fell. I closed my eyes and saw the flames. I saw my father, maybe jumping into the darkness, maybe riding the plane into the ground. Either way, he’d been here. I could feel him around me. I hoped, wherever he was, that he could feel me around him. It was the most spiritual moment I’ve ever experienced.

When we returned to Pyongyang later that afternoon, we attended a dinner hosted on our behalf. I sat next to a military man about my same age. He spoke some broken English and told me he’d lost his father in the war, too. He didn’t know what happened to his dad, either. I’d never stopped to think of losses suffered by the North Korean people. They’d always been the bad guys to me, as if that somehow made the families impervious to heartache. The soldier and I spoke of our fathers. We each tried, but failed, to contain our emotions. From distant parts of the world we had grown up hating everything about each other. That night, we became friends.

On the heels of that emotional experience, we were taken the next day to the national war museum in Pyongyang. Our guide took us into the Atrocities Room and turned our attention to their main exhibit. There, from floor to vaulted ceiling, was the story of my father’s loss mission. Ken Enoch and John Quinn, two of his crew mates, had been captured and taken as POWs. They were forced to sign germ warfare confessions and had become poster boys for North Korean anti-American propaganda.

Giant photographs of Enoch and Quinn, along with drawings of bombs that showed bugs crawling out of them, and blow-ups of the signed confessions, covered the full length of the room. We stood before the wall for thirty minutes listening to a presentation about the Imperialist Americans, the demons who had bombed their lands and infected their people. The guide gestured angrily toward the photographs. I felt a sweat creep up under my hair. Did they know my father had been on the same mission? Would they find a way to hold me back when the rest of my delegation departed?

By the time the trip was coming to an end, I felt almost schizophrenic. One minute I’d be confronted with deep rooted hatred and shameless repression that stirred dark and angry responses. Then, almost from nowhere, beauty or kindness or compassion or some powerful connection to my father would come upon me. It was a place for which I had no use, and it was a place that meant more to me than anywhere else.

It came time to leave. Our plane taxied, then gathered its speed down the runway. I was sad. It felt like I was leaving my father behind. I turned to take one last look at this country that had swallowed him up. The sky was blue that day and the hills were green, but my eyes saw nothing past the white crane that flew just beyond the wing, keeping pace at my window. His large wings moved as though to music. The bird could have gone anywhere, but he went with us. Just before we lifted off, the crane turned his head to me and our eyes met. In that fleeting instant, I found my father and knew then I would never let him go. Like the crane, he would have eternal life.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Different is Okay

Our son, Dru, is traveling in Asia this summer with a group from school. I’ve enjoyed the texts that mostly come in the middle of the night, when I get to sit up, grab my glasses and try to snap into consciousness in case something bad has happened. The first one freaked me out, blaring as it did from my nightstand at 3:30 AM. It was a relief to learn that, apparently, tall blond Americans are in short supply in China. Dru was asked by a group of local girls to pose for pictures with them so they could show their friends they had met ‘a hot American boy.’ I can understand why that couldn’t wait till daylight.

And the ‘Yak Attack’ was critical information. It’s not every day your son eats yak meat in Tibet and spends the next two days fighting off others to get to the bathroom first. This is important news.  

The texts have come in, highlighting differences between that part of the world and ours. The stories are amusing. They are fun. This is not the first time I have had occasion to notice that we do things a little differently here in the U.S. than they do elsewhere.

Not that long ago, I visited China as part of a delegation of American and Canadian women attorneys. At the time, China was in the throes of its emergence as a world economic power. The Chinese government was still trying to control its people socially and politically, but global trading had made the once-reclusive country vulnerable to the Internet. The Chinese populace was talking to the rest of the world and starting to figure out that all the repression was not what everyone else was getting. Our tour guide explained with half-hearted conviction, dosed-up by a hint of shame at having been cowed so late in the game, that they just knew to stop if the bright red screen came up and told them they’d strayed into forbidden territory when surfing the Internet. To continue would be to risk arrest and, possibly, detention.

Censorship was still an accepted concept. We heard they had rooms of interceptors who would read facsimile traffic to screen for politically disruptive communications. How archaic that seemed. In times of transparency and global connection, it was difficult to picture rows of informants sitting in a room reading other people’s faxes, ready to snitch on anyone who dared to write something critical of the government. What followed the tattletaling – armed officials at the door to snatch the dissident from bed and haul him off?

As we drove through the streets of Beijing, huge cranes sat everywhere, poised in the midst of transformation. Old Beijing was a series of thatched compounds, where generations of families lived together. Grandparents watched children play in the courtyard, while parents walked to their shops and earned a day’s wage. As we tourists rode by in our buses, the compounds came down to make way for progress. Shops closed. Grandparents were shipped to retirement communities in one province; parents and children were sent off elsewhere. Families were scattered as change blew through their communities.

Against the backdrop of cranes and newly constructed skyscrapers, we visited the Chinese Supreme Court. Out in the hall was a little closet with a hole in the ground. This was the justices’ bathroom. I pictured them in there, hoisting their robes and squatting to avoid the splash. You’d think they would have brought in toilets before the cranes.

Speaking of bathroom habits, we walked to a restaurant for dinner on our first night in Beijing. Apparently, the Chinese hadn’t yet discovered diapers. Instead, children wore pants with a slit in them. When the child had to go, he would simply spread his legs and pee or poop right there in the street. We learned this tidbit as we walked behind a couple with a young child. The boy sat on his father’s shoulders, slit in the pants stretched wide open. Even before I could ask, the child wiggled and the dad put him down to do his business. There was no looking over their shoulders and not a hint of embarrassment. Clean-up didn’t seem to occur to them. Neither did wiping. The threesome just walked away, leaving the toddler's pile there on the sidewalk for the rest of us to enjoy.

Then came dinner. As we sat around the elegant table, which was draped in white, the waiter placed shot glasses in front of each of us. He returned with a snake, long and dangling. Its tail end wiggled up by my ear, the way snakes’ bodies do. I’d like to have jumped up and run, but did not.

Without a word, the waiter laid the snake on the table and chopped off its head. Lucky for me, I was right next to the execution, so the splattering etcetera came my way. The waiter turned the snake upside down and filled our shot glasses with blood, dripping from one glass to the next. The table cloth looked scary.  

He poured himself a shot, then laid the body at my elbow. We all sat like statues, one by one grasping the grittiness of what was coming next. The waiter lifted his glass, as if in toast to our two nations. What could we do…shun the gesture? Insult our host? Maybe people who refused snake blood were deemed reactionaries and disappeared in the night.

A woman on the far side of the table picked up her glass. I could see her hand shake. The rest of us followed, tentatively, shrinking from the task before us. The waiter said something, probably akin to ‘cheers,’ and tossed back his shot. A long pause followed. One of the heartier among us mustered herself to the challenge and raised her glass. She waited, certainly not willing to go the distance alone. One by one we gathered our nerve and then, together, we downed viles of snake blood. A few gags escaped from beneath napkins quickly brought to the mouth. Several of us were unable to handle the whole shot at once, and had to take it in two gulps. Some of the ladies had overflow making its way down their chins, lending a gruesome finish and reminding everyone of what we had done.

The next day, we walked through the marketplace and saw stands like we have for hot dogs. Only these had cauldrons of boiling water and cats in cages behind the vendor, ready for selection. Eons apart, their culture and ours.

As our time in China passed, I found myself judging their ways, their customs, even them as people. I thought of them as a bunch of barbarians who hadn’t traveled all that far from days of throwing those who died building the Great Wall into its spaces, then covering them over, casting them in forever, like so much debris that mattered to no one.

I needed directions one morning and a local man stopped to help me. He didn’t speak English, but that didn’t deter him. After considerable gesturing and what looked like a game of charades, he whipped out some paper and a pencil. We started drawing pictures and diagrams. Eventually, I figured out what he was trying to tell me. Before we said goodbye, I took a lingering look at my new friend’s face. It was a kind face and I could tell the man behind it was a kind man. He and I had interacted, not as an American and a Chinese, but as two human beings. This lovely individual had, unwittingly, given me much more than directions.

As I went on my way, I felt a new attitude sneak in to replace the cynicism that had started to take hold. Till then, I’d been living up to the unflattering reputation of an American snob. Anything different was not as good. I’d been passing judgment without intending to do so.

China is a country undergoing monumental change on several fronts. It will emerge as something quite new and different, I suspect. Regardless of how the transition manifests itself, China is a fascinating place. Its people are kind. Their artwork and food are amazing. The Great Wall, the Emperor’s Palace and the Tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di and his terra-cotta army in Xi'an are just a few of the architectural treasures that tell of a history rich in complexity and drama.     

It’s easy to fault those whose outlook or customs are different from our own. I imagine people traveling to the U.S. might have a thing or two to say about some of the stuff that goes on here. I began my trip to China with a closed mind. Thankfully, I turned that mistake around before I had wasted the experience. Today, I am grateful for having had the opportunity to see this intriguing country up close. It’s a pleasure to have interacted with people whose lives and history are so different from my own, and it is wonderful to realize that, despite those differences, most of us are very much alike. We want the same things; we suffer the same emotions.

Since the trip to China, I have tried to apply the new attitude here at home. There is a tendency even on familiar territory to judge others for being different. I know I don’t measure up all the time, but I think it’s a goal to keep in mind.

I will say, though, the next time I am in China, I intend to politely excuse myself if the waiter comes walking in with a snake in his hand.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


The other evening found me a little down. It’s been such a long haul going through Cecil’s transplant. He’s in Charlottesville. I’m mostly in Roanoke. And, though the worst of the ordeal seems to be behind us, sometimes it’s still hard to escape the Poor Me thing. At night, I sit alone in a big house that’s staged for sale, and then get up each morning to deal with people’s difficult divorces. My free time is spent driving back and forth between Roanoke and Charlottesville – remnants of life here and the struggle for life there.

I’ve stopped wearing make-up and, the other day just before I finished up at work, I realized I hadn’t combed my hair yet. The only thing anyone sees me in anymore are the two or three outfits that don’t need to be ironed. My fingernails are frequently dirty from gardening late at night or early in the morning. It’s really not a pretty picture.

So, I took a glass of wine out to the patio and sat by our pond, looking forward to a tranquil session of self-pity. Just as I plunked myself into a chair, I noticed the fountainhead on the pond pump was struggling along at not much more than a gurgle, two clicks short of a complete blockage.

“Great” was all I could muster. I needed just one more thing to deal with.

Cecil is the one who cleans the pond and fixes the pump when it plugs up. We have a rule: he doesn’t go into the water without someone standing by. It’s slippery in there and he could fall, maybe hit his head. I don't want to come home and find him floating. But he wasn’t there this evening and someone needed to fix the pump.

I grabbed his waders – big heavy waterproof boots that go up past his hips and fasten over his shoulders with suspenders. Since neighbors can’t see the pond area, and I didn’t feel like going upstairs to get suitable clothing, I stripped down to bra and underwear and stepped into the waders. Let’s just say they were too big.

I walked like an astronaut in space gear over to the pond’s edge and scaled the rock barrier down into the dark water. To call the bottom slimy simply wouldn’t do it justice. Even through the boots, I could feel the uncertainty of every step. There was no escaping the feeling that I was standing someplace civilized people don’t go. The word lagoon came to mind. And then there were the fish. We’d started with maybe ten. There were now a hundred and fifty if there was a one. You’d think they’d swim away from big boots in their pond but, apparently, they were curious and needed to nibble at me.  

Out from the edge I crept, understanding more fully why it’s a good idea to have an observer. About a foot from the fountainhead, I realized I’d forgotten to turn off the pump. Too bad. I wasn’t about to retrace my steps and crawl back out, so I ventured on.

At the pump, I reached down into the murkiness and started pulling clots and clumps of green goop off the motor. This was the sort of yuck that any woman in her right mind would have flung with a vengeance, but I got to hold it in my left hand while I went back for more with my right. I was leaning over the fountain to clean the far side when, apparently, I found the sweet spot and cleared the blockage.

In an instant, the fountainhead burst free and shot up, not unlike Old Faithful. Unfortunately, I was in its path. Water filled my mouth, rushed into my nostrils and nearly blinded me, if I still had eyes at all. Without thinking, I jumped back and, needless to say, lost footing.

It was a heartbreaking few seconds, as I tried to prevent the inevitable.

The full-body splash nearly emptied the pond. Even before I was done falling, I wondered how many fish were being tossed out to their death. As I felt the cold rush taking over my hair, I had that sickening realization that I was now fully under water, and panicked at the thought of fish swimming down into the waders. The worst part was that I couldn’t scream. I really needed to scream.

The thrashing got me nowhere, neither did grabbing at plants. And everything I touched felt like it had jumped straight from the screen of a horror flick into our pond. Surely blood suckers and snakes were making their way out from darkened corners to get me. 

Against every impulse, I rolled over onto all fours and actually placed both hands on the bottom of this hell hole. With more traction, I managed to thrust my head up and out of the water. The instant I cleared the surface, I let out a howl that, no doubt, rattled windows in the neighborhood.

Instinct told me not to stand up again, so I crawled to the edge and tried to drag myself up onto the rocks. Half-way up, my strength gave out, now that the waders were filled with water and weighed the better part of a thousand pounds. I fell back in and suffered the unspeakable a second time. It occurred to me that I might sling one leg up. That would’ve worked great if there’d been a crane waiting to catch the boot. The only thing left was to drop drawer in the pond. Somehow, I wasn’t warming up to the idea of standing in what now seemed like a swamp, clad only in my skivvies.

That hesitation dissipated when I felt something brush up against my leg inside the waders. I froze. Was that a freakin’ fish? I wasn’t going to wait around to find out. I peeled the damn waders off and leaped out of them like a ballerina in full split, then hauled my sorry self out of the pond with a strength that would rival the kind mothers use to lift vehicles off their children.

Once on dry land, I collapsed onto the grass. As I lay there panting, I noticed the bra was a little askew and there was some inappropriate exposure going on. It'd be just my luck that a satellite would pass over right about them to capture me for the Internet.

There was still the matter of the waders I'd left in the pond. I could go back in for them, if I were stark raving mad. Instead, I grabbed the pond net, hooked the suspenders, and dragged the waders to the edge. I won’t even mention how many living things came swimming out as I emptied everything into the water. 

I made my way to the patio, where my glass of wine still sat on the table. It was supposed to have been such a peaceful interlude – maybe a little soul searching, maybe some reckoning with reality. Instead, I stood soaking wet in my underwear, with a strand of slimy something or other dangling from my hair, wondering how long before the PTSD would set in.  

One would think I’d have run like an Olympian to the shower. Instead, I sat and drank my wine. After a few sips, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself no matter what is going on in my life. So what if my husband is going through a stem cell transplant and I am exhausted and stressed out and way behind on everything I need to do? I looked out at the pond. Life can always be worse.

My little mishap made me realize a couple things. First, bad times are always a matter of perspective and, also, you should never go into the pond alone – or at all, if you can help it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Behind the Story

My husband, Cecil, is sixty days into his stem cell transplant. Cells from the cords of two infants were introduced on April 3rd. The babies, as we call them, would compete and, eventually, one would take over. Cecil’s new immune system would come from that child.

We learned both babies were girls and that one of them had B+ blood type and the other was O+. Tests began to show that one of the babies was pulling ahead in the DNA count. We were dying to know which one it was, but the reports didn’t reveal that information. Day after day, counts came in, but the donor cells bore only identification numbers.

Curiosity was getting the best of me and about sixty of our closest people. “Ask them which one it is,” I kept pressing. Cecil said it didn’t matter and he was right. But still, the rest of us wanted to know. The cells came from two different babies. Each baby was a separate child with her own life. One of them would, without knowing it, rescue him. The main story was the stem cell transplant, but the story behind that story was the child herself. It made a difference which one it was. You don’t conjure generic stories; you conjure particular stories. We wanted to put a name to the child that had rescued Cecil and given him life again. She was the story behind the story.

All too often, the best part of a story is not as flashy as the headline. People are drawn to the juicy stuff. So, storytelling finds itself focused somewhere off center, out on the fringes of life’s most common experiences.

When federal prosecutors went after Cecil in their effort to control the practice of pain management, the story should have been about Cecil’s medical decisions and his treatment of patients. Instead, reporters succumbed to temptation and created headlines about silly details of the case that had nothing to do with the charges. It was not until the attention-grabbers ran out, or became old hat, that the media went looking for new material. When they did, they discovered the real story: Cecil was a most unusual physician whose patients were as dedicated to him as he was to them. Only then did media coverage begin to shift. Only then did the public start to get a sense that prosecutors had forced their way into the practice of medicine. People needed to know that story. The media needed to do their job.

That lesson came to me years ago when I was a journalist. My first job was in Providence, Rhode Island, where I was weekend anchor and a general assignment reporter for the CBS affiliated station.

My first week at the station I covered a story about gang violence. We pulled up behind the car of a man who had been shot to death in a drive-by, and I got out to see what was what.  I opened the driver’s door and leaned in. When I put my hand on the back of the seat, I felt something wet and gooey squish between my fingers. It didn’t take long for me to figure out it was the victim’s brain matter. As I hastened my way out of the car, I saw the dead man’s flip-flop still in place on the gas pedal.  Moments before, he had been driving down the street.  Now his brains were sticking to my fingers, and the last vestige of his life was a flip-flop on the gas pedal.

Other reporters quipped about the brains and directed their photographers to get a good shot. I couldn’t get passed the flip flop. On that night’s newscasts, other stations led with Shooting Victim’s Brains Found Splattered on Car Seat. My story was about a young man who had gotten caught up in violence and crime. It was about the reasons he found himself down that wayward path, and it was about the two young children who would grow up without their daddy. Of what use to society was the knowledge that the man’s brains had splattered onto the seat? Yet that's what people talked about.

The very next day, I was dispatched to cover a suspicious odor emanating from a house. We got there as the police arrived and broke down the door. Just inside, the remains of an old man were sprawled on the staircase. Long hair lay around him on the stairs, framing a stark and shriveling face. It was odd because he had begun to decompose, but he was still wearing his red plaid flannel shirt and black ankle-high boots.

I pictured the poor guy tumbling down the stairs. Had he survived for a while and died slowly, alone? Why didn’t anyone notice that he hadn’t been around?  My camera man, Howard, and I looked at each other. For a few seconds, we stood quietly. Then he picked up his camera and said “Go get your story.” To me, the story was an old man who was all alone in life when he died on a staircase. Others framed it in terms of Skeleton Found Sprawled on Stairs After Neighbors Notice Foul Smell. I have little doubt their headlines generated more audience than mine did. But, I think people care more about an old man dying alone than they do about a foul smell in the neighborhood.  

By the end of my first week on the job, I was torn. I knew our audience wanted the blood and gore, but I couldn’t bring myself to be that kind of reporter. I decided to follow a different standard, but it was a constant struggle. One of my last assignments in Providence has stuck with me these many years.  

I was doing a live shot on the railroad tracks, where a man had tried to scoot across in the path of an oncoming train. He didn’t make it. As Howard gave me the cue to go live…in ten, nine, eight, seven… I looked down to gather my thoughts, and saw the accident victim’s detached eyeball resting against my foot. It took me a second to realize what I was looking at and, by the time I did, I was on the air.

For some reason I bent over to pick up the eyeball. It was the sort of grisly find that has sent girls running and screaming throughout the ages, but, inexplicably, I reached down to pick it up with my bare hand. Howard flailed and stomped from behind the camera. He was rolling his hand in an emphatic circle off to his side, reminding me I was on the air and needed to say something now.
By my foot was a loose eyeball, with a long something or other stringing out the back and several fleshy strands dangling from the sides. In front of me was a news camera, its imposing red light demanding that I act like a professional and turn this situation around. After what seemed like way too long (especially for Howard), I went with the red light. I talked to the viewers about what had happened on this remote stretch of train track, where a man had acted carelessly in an instant, and then lost everything.

When the live shot ended, another reporter, who had been standing off to the side, came up to me. “Why didn’t you lead with the eyeball?” He asked.
“It’s not the story.”

“I’d have gone with it anyway.”

“Then I’m glad it was on my foot and not yours.”

Often, the important story lies behind the flash that feeds morbid curiosity. The real story will expose injustice, educate society, or maybe enlighten the human condition. The real story is not usually the eyeball on the ground.

And so, when we learned that Little Miss B+ had carried the day for Cecil, the story was not Cells From Baby Used in Controversial Medical Procedure. The story for us was that we are connected in ways we have yet to discover to a precious child, who is playing somewhere today as a five-year-old. She and Cecil have the same immune system. She is fighting his battles. A part of her is living within him. We want the child and her parents to know the difference they have made, but likely we will never get the chance to tell them.

Little Miss B+ is the story that lives behind the medical technology. She is the story we should all look for when life’s highlights come our way.