Today is for "E," and I'm going to get serious on this post because "E" is for ENOUGH.
I work as an editor and reporter for a mid-sized daily newspaper. I've been at it a long time.
I started in journalism almost eighteen years ago, first penning obituaries for area residents who'd passed away and then slowly working my way through the ranks to become a jane-of-all-trades in the newsroom.
Last spring, an opportunity arose to go back to duties on the obituary desk, and I jumped at it.
Not because I thought it was an easy job or because I thought it would be a great way to get out of covering "real news." I jumped at the chance because I had always found a sense of fulfillment helping to lighten the burden of a family in mourning.
When I write an obituary, I do so with the knowledge that this piece I'm preparing for print will likely be the last -- and perhaps only -- chance to let the world outside of the deceased's own circle of family and friends know why he or she was special.
But I've had to work on some difficult cases.
I prepared one last week that was especially heartbreaking. I'd spent a full week praying for the little girl for whom it was submitted to experience a miraculous recovery that simply didn't happen.
A week before she was pronounced dead, 4-year-old Caylee Hoehne was brought to the hospital in an unresponsive state. Her mother was charged with committing child abuse with the intent to cause injury. According to the Norfolk Daily News, her mother told the police she had grabbed Caylee around her torso and squeezed before throwing her into bed and that she believed the girl may have hit her head on the bed frame or wall.
The story left residents of the area -- myself included -- shocked, grief-stricken and angry.
How could anyone do such a heinous thing to a child?
There is a stigma about reporters; people say we are cold and detached from the emotion of the situations we are covering.
This is not true. There are times when I've looked into the faces of my coworkers and could see the trauma of the accident or crime they just covered lingering in their eyes.
And stories like Caylee's, they stick with you and keep you awake at night.
What kind of tragedy or heartbreak is someone experiencing right now that I will have to report on tomorrow?
When it dawns on you that a little girl was enduring a fatal beating while you were having a muffin and laughing with your family on a lazy Sunday morning, it's impossible to remain detached from the people about whom you're writing.
So I'm saying ENOUGH.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month in the United States.
In honor of Caylee, I have decided to pledge 100 percent of my profit from all online sales -- paperback and Kindle edition -- of THE LONG ROAD to HEAVEN during the month of April to the local United Way.
The funds will be specifically earmarked for CASA, an organization that provides each victim of child abuse and/or neglect with a trained adult advocate who will represent their best interests in court. The Court Appointed Special Advocates are teamed up with all entities involved in order to plan the best course of action for children in abuse cases. CASA volunteers offer advocacy and stability to children in the court system at no cost to the court.
I can't guarantee a large donation, but I can guarantee that 100 percent of whatever I make in online sales in April will be given.
Please help me make this campaign as successful as possible. Share this post and spread the word. Please help me make a difference in the lives of these children.
THE LONG ROAD TO HEAVEN can be purchased here. We may not be able to stop children from being abused, but we can certainly help ease the trauma.
Thank you for your generosity.