My job was to tell the truth. Getting there, doing the work, going through the notes, was like putting my hand in a shredder. I could only do it for so long before I would pull my hand back — as instinctive as a quick jerk, a protective reaction. It was too much; I had to step away only to return with a kind of macabre fascination to the scene of the violence. What else was there? I understood the words, the meaning, the message would be carried through me — the tone and expression of my voice, the movement and gestures of my body, everything down to my choices about breathing and eye contact. I am the vehicle. The story lives or dies with me, everything depends on how I put it together. I can’t just tell the truth. I have to make them feel it, otherwise, what was the point of the pain, of all of the words?

That is the pact we make, if you trust me with your words, I will listen and carry your story forward. Analysis, synthesis, pattern-finding — these are all ways of adding order and logic to the narrative. It is the story that we remember, that we honor, that we recognize as truth.

Writer, researcher, observer