June 12th, 2008
04:38 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Loss and Love

Erica Hill
AC 360° Correspondent

Iowa’s governor called the storm “a blow right to the gut”…but that may be an understatement.

The images tell a tale of horror, sorrow and incomprehensible loss. I cant begin to comprehend what the families of the four Boy Scouts killed in last night’s tornado are feeling. Campbell and I were talking about the story last night during one of the breaks… she said how trivial the things she’d been worried about earlier in the day now seemed. I couldn’t agree more.

If there is anything positive to be found in this tragedy, it is the strength and courage of the Scouts at that camp last night. They immediately sprang into action, putting their training to work to help their fellow Scouts. They are heroes. I’m sure the four teens who lost their lives would have done exactly the same thing.


There is a fair amount of depressing news today, stories that are important and need to be told, but which can make for a gray day. I want to give you something a little more uplifting… stick with me, it’s worth it.

Thinking of a world without those you love and hold most dear is something I’d rather not do. I hate to think about the day when I may not be able to call one of my parents, or when my son may lose some of the older members of our family. While I do my best to relish the moments in the present, sometimes it’s hard not to think about the way things will eventually change. I so desperately want my son to have a connection to the people my husband and I hold dear, the ones we know won’t be around for his entire life; I’m sure they feel the same way.

While age and death may be part of the circle of life, it doesn’t mean we have to accept it. We can do so much with the time we’re given. What better way to capture that energy than to make sure you share it with the younger generations? Sidney Poitier channeled it into a book for his great-granddaughter, a little girl he first met just one day after she entered the world. As I read this earlier today, it brought tears of both joy and sadness to my eyes:

"When I arrived at the hospital, I saw my great-granddaughter in her mother's arms," Poitier recalled. "Directly behind her was my daughter, the baby's grandmother. Next to her was my former wife, who was the baby's great-grandmother.

"I saw that I was in a room of four generations. I would soon be 80, and Ayele was one day old. I realized that the time between us would be short. I decided I would write a book in the form of letters so I could cover everything that I've felt and learned, and talk to her about things that I don't understand."

A pricelss treasure for Ayele and so many more.

Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. michelle: Ont,Canada

    Hi Erica

    What terrible deveesation to camp and the boy scout troops.
    My thoughts and prayers are with them and thier families as they struggle through this tragedy. I admire your work and senesitvity to these stroriesthat you reoport on. I like the previous blogger think you should cover for A.C. while he's on yet another adventure!

    Thanks Erica

    Michelle D.

    June 13, 2008 at 9:55 am |
  2. Bren from Atlanta

    Erica..your post was well done today. We may never pass this way again, so let us love...
    I have been living a physically challenging life since 9/11. I was struck down with seizures, hydrocephalus and now simmering myeloma. But life is way too sweet to be bitter. I refuse to live in fear of tomorrow and make the most of today. I have so much to be thankful for. I threw myself into working with Doctors Without Borders. When I see how little others have, how can I ever complain. How do we dare in the US ever complain about anything? I thank you and Anderson for the company every night and for the comraderie of the bloggers freely sharing our hearts one with another. Be at peace tonight. Treasure each moment...we may never pass this way again...so let us love. Love to you, yours tonite and tomorrow infinitum m'lady

    June 12, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  3. Annie Kate


    The story about Sidney Poiter is great – I wish more people would commit their memories and thoughts to paper for the latter generations to read. I've done a lot of genealogy research and when I find letters from the person I'm researching or a folder of family stories that someone in a past generation put together, the people who were just names on the paper take shape as real people and not just a name with dates. We should all treasure our parents and grandparents as long as they are with us and get them to tell us their stories – they usually have quite a bit to share – especially of times past that they grew up in and we just know from the history books.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 12, 2008 at 9:46 pm |
  4. Mary, Tooele County, Utah

    What a wonderful story. All my greats were around when I was born but passed away before I was truly old enough to appreciate them. Now that I am older, I have a million questions about their journey to the United States and my history. Wish they had written journals or such. As it is, my most prized possessions are a few trinkets they left to me. What an amazing gift Sydney is giving to little Ayele.

    June 12, 2008 at 9:01 pm |
  5. Kiran


    It seems like the tornado season is worse than ever before. It almost seems like every 5 minutes a tornado has touched down somewhere.
    The breaking news last night was very sad. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have suffered in this tragedy. The story about Sidney Poitier is just so sweet...he is truly an extraordinary human being!

    As a muslim, we believe that we are not promised anything in life, except for death. But thinking about death is so hard to do. We all wish we could live in this world forever.
    We sometimes take our parents and other loved ones for granted, but we never know when we may never talk to them or see them ever again. It's a scary thought. Whenever I think about it, I always tell my parents that I love them or that I'm sorry if I ever hurt their feelings in any way.

    June 12, 2008 at 8:52 pm |
  6. Ruby

    Hello Erica, it's a trip how at time we get stuck on things that have no meaning to life., one thing for sure there is good/bad, but let's not for get the good in order to get through the bad* see u. (I still think u should cover for Coop.)

    June 12, 2008 at 8:40 pm |
  7. Genevieve M, TX

    Erica, enjoy your parents while they are still here. My father passed away 30 years ago and my mother died early last year. I was a toddler when my father died so, sadly, I don't remember him much at all. As for my mother, I miss her everyday. I still sometimes find myself calling her cell phone to talk, but then I remember it is not "her number" any more. 🙁

    June 12, 2008 at 8:16 pm |
  8. Sabrina in Los Angeles

    It is soo tragic what happened. They were children still and that loss is hard.

    I found irony in the fact that they had JUST finished learning how to handle such an event yesterday. Do you think that played a part in helping to save those who were there?

    June 12, 2008 at 6:49 pm |
  9. Megan Dresslar

    Please tell Boy Scout camp for me, My thoughts and prayers to them, my hearts go out to parents of 4 teenagers who were so brave and heroes.......... That's breaking my heart to 4 teenagers....... god bless them to remember to their safety..... I will be there tonight join AC360 blog tonight..... See you soon!

    @ Bill in Nebraska,
    Thanks for the update for me what happened it caused tornadoes, very sad for them lost their lives........ Let me know what happening for update..... please stay safe, I am praying for you and save your self.
    I am appericated that you provide me what happened 4 teenagers killed cause by tornadoes. Hang in there Bill!

    Megan D.
    Shoreline, WA

    June 12, 2008 at 6:13 pm |
  10. Lilibeth

    I also dread living without loved ones around. I love my parents and siblings and want them to live forever. I also love my husband very dearly. I told him that if we die, I want us to die together or I want to be the one to die first. The mere thought of not having him in my life is devastating. He truly loves me for who I am, totally and unconditionally. And so while we have our loved ones around, this is the best thing we can give them…unconditional love…for we don't know when we or they will depart this earth.

    See you later,
    Edmonds, Washington

    June 12, 2008 at 6:06 pm |
  11. Heather

    I think Sidney is a wonderful person. I love just to listen to talk. I have seen almost all of his films. He is so very much connected to his humanity in such a way that I think most people truly do not understand. He is a truly fascinating human being. His gifts are far more than his contributions in film. He understands the human condition and he recognizes that it is possible to rise above the superficial and connect to what is near and dear to him. His family. Hes a true original.

    June 12, 2008 at 5:59 pm |
  12. Renee

    Erica: I admire your work and what you are trying to accomplish. You are one classy lady.

    I have been writing a book for the last 2 years for my children. It is titled "Memoirs from Mom." I got the inspiration from the book after I read Wyatt Cooper's book "Families." It just seemed like the right thing to do to write all of this stuff down especially when you are a small family.

    There are many, many funnies, some serious moments, tips on finance, basic living, art, sculpture, refinishing furniture and travel abroad. I devote an entire chapter to the things I don't get along with - garden hoses, escalators, heights and mean people.

    I would encourage you with your wonderful and blessed life to do the same. Your son will cherish the thoughts and the moments.

    June 12, 2008 at 5:53 pm |
  13. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    Last night I cried as I watched the story of those Scouts. I cannot even imagine what their parents and other loved ones are going through. The scouts who worked to help rescue their friends are just proof that heroes come at any age. My prayers are with all involved as they begin to recover from this tragedy.

    What Sidney Poitier did for his great-granddaughter is phenomenal. I think we have so much to learn from our relatives who are generations older than us. I know I learned so much from my grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and great-grandparents. I was lucky that my parents visited them, took me along, and let me listen to their stories. My paternal grandma is 83, and she still teaches me (mostly now about aging with grace and joy). It is so important for kids to have that time with those of the older generations to learn from them, to learn where they came from, to learn where to go positively in life. I find it sad that families don't often get to have those Sunday afternoon coffee visits after dinner at the grandparents where everyone gathers like my cousins and I did as kids. We didn't realize it then, but we were so blessed for having known them so closely. If I ever have kids, I would want the same for them.

    June 12, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  14. Hannah Storm

    My thoughts and prayers are with the family members of the four young boy scouts who lost their lives last night. It really does put things into prospective

    The book that Sidney Poitier is so wonderful and a wonderful treasure that his great-granddaughter will have always. A very lucky girl indeed

    June 12, 2008 at 5:31 pm |
  15. Christina, Windber, PA

    Hey Erica,
    Thank you for such a moving post. This something I think about all the time. You grow up thinking your parents will always be there and it turns your world upside down when you lose them. Luckily, I still have my mom, but deep down I know that will change at some point. I just don't want to think about it.

    As for relishing every moment you have with those you love – no matter how much you appreciate and relish your time together, it does not heal the heartbreak when they are gone.

    All we can do is pray we will have them for as long as possible and hope we can handle it when that time is done. If you don't mind, I include Anderson in those prayers. He doesn't realize how much we look forward to the hour we spend with him and how much he cheers us up. Thank him for us all. Enjoy your family, you are lucky to have such a large one.

    Have a good day!

    June 12, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  16. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Erica,
    Thinking about our own mortality is not easy for many. In a strange way, I'm glad that my family always stressed that the future was not guaranteed. To some it may have seemed morbid, but I appreciate that I was raised that way. Only this moment is a given, not one hour or one day more. I think we all forget this everyday. When all is said and done, what we worry and rant about, is so very unimportant.
    I think Mr. Poitier's book is an idea we all should adopt.
    Photo albums, videos, are fine, but words from the heart and spirit of the person writing, is a great way to really come to know someone who has gone from this earth.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    June 12, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  17. Bill in Nebraska


    First, yes there are a lot of sad stories going on out there today. Everything I was blogging about here last night in Little Sioux was tragic. The scouts showed all of us just what selfless courage really is. You and the Gov. are correct, they are real heroes. There is even more that needs to be covered yet. Look at the crop issue now and the flooding going on. How about this Crane falling in Texas?

    It is amazing to all of us out here in Omaha just how fast emergency responders and helpers showed up in Little Sioux. It is very good to see this in action. I also really want to thank you and Campbell personally for letting me run with the Anchor Desk Blog last night. I just hope I was able to help some and shed some light on it.

    Now as for family. Erica, your story is great to see. I wish it could be different for all of us but we all know that the only gaurantee's in life are death and taxes. You can always do what my family is now doing. We are all making movies for the children and younger family members in our family. This way not just do they get to hear our words but our voice and see the emotions within those words. I too worry about my time with my nephew. He is a leap year baby and just turned 4. I just hope and prey that with everything that is going on in this world, that he has a better life than I have.

    Once again, thanks Erica and Campbell and crew.

    June 12, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  18. Anne Marie Petersen

    It is true how the raw emotion of both tragedy and love can confound a person. It is the challenge journalists have to switch between a personal reaction of both fear and heroic praise to the objectivity to say "here is what is happening."

    The sentiment surounding the statement for Sidney Poitier and his great-granddaughter is also a reminder of the very real life we witness but do not often have a chance to appreciate.

    Thanks for sharing.

    June 12, 2008 at 4:52 pm |