These past seven weeks have been a complete whirlwind.
To give a very condensed recap, since early May, I’ve driven to New Orleans and back to pick up Aidan, flown to New York for the Dart Society fundraiser, traveled with our family, Dad and his life-long friend Lee to his hometown in Germany, and finished up an eight-page health supplement for Hoy.
That was all before last Wednesday, when I flew to Boston for the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference.
I first went to the conference in 2006, when four of us from The Chicago Reporter went to Dallas to listen to and learn from investigative reporters from around the world.
Being around people whose work I had read and admired was a life thrill and a source of tremendous energy.
Continuing to go back in most of the years since then has given me that same jolt of excitement and inspiration.
The past three years I’ve been able to present on a number of panels.
This year, though, was different.
Because it was in my home town, Mom was able to attend.
She arrived early, light blue hat on head, pushing her walker ahead of her with strength and vigor, and sitting in the front row of the panel I moderated and presented at about investigating prison abuse.
We in the Dart Society co-sponsored the panel with the Dart Center. Cindy Chang of the Times-Picayune in New Orleans spoke about her voluminous eight-part series centered on Louisiana’s having the highest rate of prisoners in the country, Susie Greene talked about her riveting film, The Gray Box, a chronicle of solitary confinement, and Wendy Halloran of WHNT-TV in Phoenix discussed her multi-part look at a prisoner who guards watched bleed to death after a suicide attempt he made with a razor they had allowed him to have.
It was powerful stuff, and Mom’s being there only added to my sense of good fortune.
The panel was just one of many gifts I received during my four days in Boston.
I visited and ate with family.
I saw childhood friends Edgar Howe and Arthur Sneider.
I spent time with mentors and friends Paul Tamburello, Dave Russell and Alan Stoskopf.
Fernando and I met and made plans for collaborations with colleagues from publications and communities all over the world.
We also drove up to Maine, where we conducted a riveting interview with a key source for an upcoming story.
At the conference I reconnected with fellow investigative folks, met new colleagues, got new tips and story ideas, and generally wove more strands into the fabric of my relationship with that community.
The time was full, at times crushingly so.
But I kept my head, made sure to breather and again realized that there is great richness and abundance in life if you are open to experiencing it.
This of course was before I returned home to Dunreith and Aidan, who picked me up at the airport, Father’s Day gift and cards in tow.
For much of my childhood and early adulthood, I lived life in a straight line, moving through experiences and then moving onto the next one.
I feel extraordinarily privileged to have come to the place where I’ve understood the almost inexpressibly profound joy one can experience through return and reconnection and the integration of people who matter to you, through sharing old memories and forging news ones, and through living under the belief that bringing your deepest-held dreams to reality is possible.
I am grateful.