Dear Mrs. Gasciogne,
In under an hour, you changed my life.
I am sitting on a cold metal bench, digital voice recorder in hand, and I’m yelling in my head for making a grown woman cry.
It’s the first week in October, but already the biting wind isn’t helping alleviate the sting in both our eyes as I listen, wanting desperately to help you. I watch the way you reach a hand up, brushing back a steady stream of tears, and I try to imagine what it must feel like to lose a child. I can’t.
Journalists interview a gamut of wildly different people. Eccentric people. Intellectuals. Creatives. Endearing people. Disheartened people. Oh, God. Did I just call myself a journalist?! But it’s true. I had a long list of choices to work with for this post.
And you’re the winner. You’re it.
You are the reason I fell in love with journalism. You are one of so many reasons I keep coming back to a world I never ever thought I would dare to enter.
I remember standing up, having to remind myself that yes, it was a production day. Yes, this was a time-sensitive piece. And yes, I still had yet to write it. I remember the way it felt to hear words spill from your mouth and believe them. Believe them because I couldn’t afford not to. Because I looked at you and knew that there was a certain unspoken code of conduct.
And that code was armed with a single word to bridge the gap between two strangers who knew each other for less than an hour in time on a blustery day last autumn — love.
L-O-V-E. That’s the million-dollar word.
“You’re going to change the world,” you told me.
And you hugged me the way only a mother can. The way only a mother knows how. You believed, and stated quite firmly, that my words would change things. That your son up in Heaven had told me to take this story assignment. That we were, in fact, meant to meet. And you were right.
I see now that you were right. I see now that a mother can lose her son and still wake up in the morning to share her love with the world. She can roll out of bed, taking each day in stride, and she can find comfort in the way love saves people. It really does. That maternal instinct doesn’t dissipate. It doesn’t waver.
You’re one of the hundreds of mothers I have met. And each time, I am struck by the supernatural ability mothers possess, exhausting themselves with love and devotion to their children.
So when I grow up, perhaps I will be a journalist. But I will definitely be a mother.
letter 27 – the friendliest person you only knew for one day
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