There’s a lot to love about the photo on the front page of this week’s Courier. What stands out is the beautiful little girl Mya, sound asleep in her mother’s arms, without a care in the world. But look closer. See the iPhone being held in her mother’s right hand? The picture on the phone? That’s Mya, not long after she was born, connected to equipment helping keep her alive.
Look even closer. The hand holding the phone is the same hand pictured on the screen of the phone, being grasped by Mya’s tiny fingers. And the mother’s calm and pleasing gaze — talk about a connection! I love the photo because it helps tell the story of discouragement, adversity, pain, support, humility, faith, perseverance and, ultimately, celebration, that is a big part of this week’s Courier.
The story of Tom and Jenna’s high-risk pregnancy and all that went with it has been told in two parts, beginning last week and concluding now. It is detailed, honest and raw and has been presented in a very public way only because of the young Freeman couple’s willingness to open up and share about something that was, to say the very least, difficult. After all, whose business is it but theirs, their families and their closest friends?
Stacey and I know Tom and Jenna. Stacey and Jenna are close because both are heavily involved in their respective family cattle operations, and Tom grew up in the same church I attend, Salem-Zion. Stacey threw Jenna a baby shower and I photographed Tom and Jenna for their birth announcement and then, later, their maternity shoot.
So, after they were home and settling in with Mya, I was comfortable asking if they would be willing to sit down and visit with me on the record for a major feature that would be seen by many. I presented the ground rules; that they would share with me the details and emotions as they unfolded in a real and honest way; that I would use judgement and common sense in presenting them in story form; and they would be allowed to sign off on the final content. They agreed.
The result is the 6,500-word story told in two parts that is, in my opinion, a jaw-dropping read. It was certainly never my intention to exploit the situation, but being given the freedom to tell a story like Tom and Jenna’s is journalistic gold. I am forever grateful to the Grabers for opening up their home, their mouths and their hearts to share their story with me and, by extension, my readers.
I am also grateful to work in an industry, and in a community, where I am allowed to tell people’s stories in a meaningful way. A friend of mine equates it to “ministry.” I don’t know about that, but I do know there is hope and inspiration in stories like the one Tom and Jenna shared with me, and being able to preserve those stories in print makes my work life-giving. Now excuse me while I have a good cry.