National stories cause heartbreak


Life is full of ironic twists and turns, some incredibly striking and some not so noticeable until time has passed.

But it has been a very long time since I have felt the impact of two national stories which stand in such common and yet diverse contrast in their heartbreak.

Laci Peterson. Laci Peterson, the beautiful young woman who went missing on Christmas Eve, captivated us as a nation. While we all hoped and prayed that this expectant mother would be found alive, hope dwindled as weeks went by. Her husband, interviewed in the days after her disappearance, seemed to be calmly awaiting her return.

With his arrest, and released photographs of him with his mistress who believed him to be a single man, I have wondered how their friends and family can grasp all of this.

David Bloom. The other unforgettable story is that of NBC’s David Bloom. Reporting from Iraq, Bloom seemed to be having the time of his life as he hunkered down with U.S. servicemen, bringing us the war report with such astonishing intensity as it had never been seen before.

In a letter to his wife, Melanie, just hours before his death from a pulmonary embolism, and published in People magazine and on the Internet this past week, David Bloom wrote:

“You can’t begin to fathom, cannot begin to even glimpse the enormity of the changes I have and am continuing to undergo. God takes you to the depths of your being, until you’re at rock bottom, and then, if you turn to Him with utter and blind faith and resolve in your heart and mind to walk only with Him and towards Him, picks you up with your bootstraps and leads you home.

“I hope and pray that all my guys get out of this in one piece, but I tell you, Mel, I am at peace. Deeply saddened by the glimpses of death and destruction that I have seen, but at peace with my God and with you…”

Setting free. Bloom urged his wife to save this note, asked her to look at it a month from now, a year from now, 10 years from now.

“You cannot know, nor do I, whether you will look back at it with tears, heartbreak, and a sense of anguish and regret over what might have been, or whether you will say he was and is a changed man, God has worked a miracle in our lives. And not to be trite, but that will set me free.”

In closing this e-mail to his wife, Bloom asked her to give their three daughters a big hug and let them know just how much their father loves and cares for them.

Struggling. Two families, once happy and complete, now struggle to go on.

Laci Peterson, her dairy farmer father having trouble getting through a few brief comments at a press conference, certainly believed that his daughter was blossoming in a happy marriage, looking forward with such joy to the birth of her first baby. She lived in a safe neighborhood, had long been loved and cared for by a stable family.

David Bloom, who went quite willingly off to cover a war, no safe neighborhood to be found for hundreds of miles around, may have feared that he and “his guys” could be mortally wounded by stray shrapnel, and he braced himself for it.

Instead, at 39, his life was ended by a stray blood clot.

Contemplate. Love and war, on any battlefront, moves us to contemplate life and its many dramas, and serves as a reminder that lives can change in an instant in any number of unexpected ways.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.