Brothers and sisters:
Monday, May 6. 3:45 PM
After wresting an oversized generator down four flights of stairs and setting floor heights on an old Shepard-Warner, I was exhausted and on-call downtown. Southbound on I-71 I passed easily through the Metro General curve. The hospital buildings visible from the highway reflect the governmental austerity of the times they were constructed and belie the world-class Level 1 Trauma Center and burn unit housed inside.
While UH and the Clinic to the east feature gleaming glass towers and public art, county-run Metro serves the poorest of Cleveland’s poor. Overt displays of prosperity are not on the agenda.
It is 72 degrees outside with crystal clear blue skies. I rolled down the truck window to breath deep the welcome warm spring day.
After I walked the dog, I flopped on my patio chair, kicked up my feet and promptly fell asleep.
God, I hope my phone doesn’t ring.
I roused from my nap by a grumble in my stomach. Might as well go in, turn on the news and eat something before my phone starts to ring. My wife left me a heat-and-eat in the microwave and it didn’t take long before that was gone. I settled into my easy chair for what was sure to be round two of nappy-time. I sighed “is there ever any good news?”
WOIO-TV was going into their nightly sports coverage when Tony Zarrella was interrupted for breaking news. That is when Ed Gallek came on set and announced to the world that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and a third unnamed woman where found together and alive! I bolted up in my chair and my mouth dropped to the floor.
As the world now knows, Berry and DeJesus, then 17 and 14 respectively, were kidnapped on their way home a decade ago and their images have been all over Cleveland since. Many times through the years there were tips that one or the other was dead and buried in various locations around town. All of them, for now obvious reasons, were wrong.
I, along with the rest of the world, watched Charles Ramsey colorfully explain his role in the rescue and the throngs of cheering people gathered on Seymour Avenue and Metro General to celebrate the end of twelve years of horror for previously unknown Michelle Knight and a decade for DeJesus, Berry and Berry’s six year-old daughter born in captivity. After watching the initial coverage, I sat back and realized that my two daughters are the same age as Amanda and Gina and my heart filled with sadness for all the events missed by the young women and their families.
As the news raced around the world and the eyes of the globe turned to the miracle unfolding in the ER on West 25th Street, you could sense something shift. It is hard to explain exactly what it was, but there was something different about the day and now the night. It was midnight before I finally turned off the television and settled into bed.
Tuesday, May 7. 2:45 AM.
My phone rings and I’m off to downtown. Driving to my call I listened to the radio for any new information on the Miracle Four. The national networks picked up on the story and were reporting what Cleveland knew nine hours earlier. As I closed in on downtown I could actually physically feel something I cannot explain.
When the buildings of Metro General loomed over the highway, they radiated a light I had never seen in the thousands of times I drove by before and the dozens of times since. They radiated pure love and joy.
That night, the world embraced Michelle, Gina, Amanda and her daughter and welcomed them home.
Till next month,
Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.