[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/26/vert.book.baghdad.jpg caption="Michael Hastings is the author of 'I Lost My Love in Baghdad.'" width=292 height=320]
Author, "I Lost My Love in Baghdad"
How do you live after tragedy? I'd never really considered the question myself until the months following January 17, 2007. On that day, the woman I loved more than I could ever capture in words was killed in Baghdad. Her name was Andi Parhamovich; she was an American civilian working in Iraq for an NGO that was trying to help the people of Iraq set-up a working democracy. She was 28, beautiful, spiritual, brilliant, born and raised in Ohio. Her killers, insurgents who claimed links to Al-Qaeda, have never been brought to justice.
I couldn't believe it happened(I say "it"—I don't even like writing the words to describe the incident, another word I don't like, which may seem odd considering I spent most of the last year writing about "it")—even though I was there covering the war myself as a correspondent for Newsweek. To this day, I can't believe what happened, really. We had planned to spend our lives together; we loved each other, love each other, and suddenly she's gone.
The temptation to join her is and was very strong—end the pain, switch places, I wish it had been me. I didn't, though. I can report to you that I am still alive, still waking up, still going to sleep. How can that be? How can I—and we as humans, because if we share one thing in common as a race it's tragedy—keep going? Is there a limit to our willingness to suffer? I don't know; I do know I'm not the first to ask those questions. But I can tell you what I did–I tried to make sense of "it." I wrote to cope, to rationalize, to curse the world, to bring attention to the war and the tens of thousands of others who've died there and whose families will never get the suffering from their loss to stop. I wrote to make sure no one would ever forget my Andi.
Everyone who loved Andi has tried to find their own ways to remember. Her family(Vicki, Andre, Marci, Cory, Chris, Joe, Abby, Kayla) and friends set up a foundation in her honor, The Andi Foundation. (theandifoundation.org) It's essentially a scholarship fund to help young women pursue their educational and career goals in politics and the media, fields Andi worked in and was fascinated by. A significant portion of the proceeds from I Lost My Love in Baghdad are also going to the foundation.
Of course, we could start a thousand foundations and I could write a thousand books, and it would never be enough. It is, though, something. And when "it" is unbearable and unreal and painful and unjust and unfair, sometimes we have to live with something.
Filed under: Memorial Day
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