Nearly a decade ago, a couple out for a motorcycle ride in Poland crashed into a car on a long stretch of Plains Road. By the time the dust settled, the news was grim.  

The woman who had been riding on the back of the bike would eventually awaken in the hospital to learn that she had lost her husband in the wreck and a portion of her left leg, as well. 

I must have covered a thousand motorcycle crashes since I became a reporter, but for one reason or another, this one stuck with me and stuck fast. 

For days, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Mainly, I was haunted by the thought of that woman waking up in a hospital bed, hooked up to various machines and surrounded by strangers, to learn that her life had been so horrifically transformed. 

What must that moment be like, I wondered, torturing myself by imagining it. How does the human soul not simply be crushed out existence under the weight of such devastating news? 

In more recent years, there was news of a young mother who accidentally ran over and killed her 17-month-old daughter while leaving a birthday in Lewiston. 

That one, too, caused me some restless and uncomfortable nights. The horror of it. The imagining of the precise moment when that poor mother understood for the first time what had just happened. The sickening reality of it. 

It has always been a marvel to me that parents can survive the deaths of their children under any circumstances. In a situation like this one, where the mother was an active participant in the death of a child so young … the mind recoils at the very idea of it, and yet your morbid imagination insists on pondering. On empathizing. On putting yourself in that grieving mother’s head and trying to imagine the enormity of the guilt and grief bearing down on her. You don’t want to think about it at all, and yet human nature compels you to glimpse into that universe of pain. 

Some stories stick with you, is all I’m saying, and for a variety of reasons. 

Just a couple weeks ago, a 71-year-old Lewiston woman was happily raking leaves in her backyard when she was attacked by a neighbor’s dog — a dog, as it turns out, that makes Stephen King’s Cujo seem like a mere nuisance. 

It’s not the woman’s wounds that stick with me, although those wounds are ghastly. For me, it’s the terrible vision of this poor woman enduring such a savage attack and for a vicious stretch of minutes that must have been the longest of her life. 

For me, it’s the vulnerability she must have felt; this 71-year-old lady who had worked all her life, raised a family and unquestionably earned the peace and safety of her own backyard on a sunny spring day. 

When the monster came for her, all fangs, muscle and unrelenting ferocity, it must have felt like a demon had sprung out of some hell pit right there in the sanctity of home — the place where she’s supposed to feel the safest. 

Over and over that creature bit and chomped and tore at this woman who had done nothing at all to invite such torment. For minutes this went on as the poor lady cried out for help, passing in and out of consciousness and no doubt wondering when it would end. 

The victim of this inexplicable attack, as it happens, has a wonderful family, who have been at her side every moment in the aftermath of the ordeal. 

But I can’t help but to think about it, even though I don’t wish to. In those wild moments down there on the cool grass, the lady must have felt entirely alone in the world; just her and the unchained monster that just kept coming and coming and coming, inflicting more pain and terror with each snap of its powerful jaws. 

You and I will eventually manage to turn these thoughts off, but I wonder if this woman will ever be able to do the same? 

A lot of terrible things happen in the world and they happen daily, yet not all of these stories of pain and woe stick with a reporter this way. If they did, we’d all be drooling, quivering wrecks babbling incoherently about dogs, motorcycles and the poor, poor children at the end of our work weeks. 

Maybe the perfect reporter would be one who is never personally affected by anything that comes his way. Just writes up all the grim facts, collects his check and moves along in a cold and clinical way. 

Not sure I’d want to be that guy, though. Getting punched in the gut by a story every now and then reminds us that we’re human, and frankly, I’d like to see humans producing the news a little while longer before the robots take over. 


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