This was 2012.
Update 2013.01.02: When I posted this, I forgot that, a while back, I did some fancy things with the blog index page. I figure the year-in-review post is a good place to introduce this new-fangled stuff.
If you type in a URL like www.alex-farris.com/blog/2011, you'll see every blog post I put up in that year. The same principle works if you type in www.alex-farris.com/blog/2011.06, which would show you every post from June 2011. And for those of you snarky enough to try this for dates before the blog started (like, say, 2010), there's something there for you, too. (There's also snark for those of you want to travel back to the future.)
The Heffner family and the Peace Learning Center
On Tuesday, I got two Star assignments. One was the sweater party at the Vogue on Wednesday evening. The first one Mike gave me, though, was a Season for Sharing story with reporter Alex Campbell, and that one was much more meaningful.
The Heffner family (mother Levia and kids Denia, Jalen, MiShana, and Jazmine) lost their home, one they moved into just a couple of months ago, to a fire last week. They moved to an apartment on the Near Eastside, where they keep an "invisible Christmas tree" with presents underneath. They started meeting with Naeemah Jackson, a peace education facilitator at the Peace Learning Center, about a year ago, and Tuesday was going to be yet another meeting with her. The meeting started with the usual introductions, passing a stick around so each could bring their feelings into the discussion and say, "And I'm in."
The rest of the meeting was different, though. Jackson put two large sheets of paper on the wall, labeled, "Stages of Loss." As Campbell's story says, the wounds from the fire are still very raw. Jackson's goal was to keep those wounds in the open so they could heal, and not allow them to get buried and denied. Campbell tells the story better than I do, so if you can get behind the paywall I'll let you go there.
There's just one thing I have to add. The final stage of loss Jackson mentioned was forming a new identity, including making new memories. The Heffner family is far from there yet, but they're getting there, and they want to get there. They lost a lot of memories in the fire: Levia's husband's obituary, her collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia, countless photos.
When I took the family and Jackson outside to get a picture of all of them, Levia said something like, "This is gonna be our first family photo!" I didn't think much of it at the time, just smiled and made sure the camera was still enough in the setting sun. As I drove home, though, I realized that I, in a small way, was part of their process of making new memories.
This is why I do journalism.Continued...
Que siempre sea 'hasta luego'
On Friday afternoon, I heard the doorbell ring, and I knew the rest of the weekend from that point on would be awesome. At the door were Amanda and Jake, two friends from IU with whom I studied in Madrid for six months in 2010. They picked me up, I guided them through the winding forested roads of the northwest corner of Indianapolis, and we drove up I-65 and a hellishly crowded Dan Ryan Expressway to a hostel in Chicago for a long-overdue Spain reunion.
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