Archive for January 15th, 2011

As Long As You Need Me

It was not unusual for Suzi Hileman to shuttle children in her neighborhood from one event to the next. She particularly loved finding ways to introduce young girls to smart, strong role models. So it was when she took Christina Green, a 9-year-old neighbor, to meet Representative Gab-rielle Giffords on Saturday morning.

Ms. Hileman was shot at least three times and her hip was shattered on Saturday. But the moment her ven-tilator was removed late that night, she turned to her husband and asked, “What about Christina?”

Since Saturday, Ms. Hileman has often been in a morphine-induced haze. On several occasions, Ms. Hileman has screamed “Christina! Christina!”

“I hear her, in her semi-conscious ramblings,” says her husband, “screaming out, ‘Christina! Christina! Let’s get out of here!’”

His wife and Christina were waiting in line to speak to Giffords when the shooting began.

Bill Hileman said: “Suzi was holding her hand trying to get away, and just—pop, pop, pop.”

“She keeps talking about how they had this incredibly tight grip on each other” when the shots began, he said. “She told me that they were almost breaking each other’s hands.”

Mr. Hileman said that he saw Christina’s father on Monday for the first time since the shooting and that for 10 minutes they said nothing as they simply cried together.

John Green remembers making his daughter an omelet with bacon and cheese for breakfast Saturday morning and kissing her goodbye as the neighbor took her to the event to meet Giffords.

The last thing Christina said to her dad: “I love you daddy.”

John Green said the reality of the loss struck him early Sunday. “There’s gonna be a lot of those kind of moments—just waking up,” he said. “She comes up and says, ‘Daddy, it’s time to get up.’ And she didn’t do that this morning.”

Beyond Rangoon is a 1995 film from John Boorman that concerns a young American woman, emptied by grief and loss, who finds herself in Burma in August of 1988, just as the government of that country is preparing to engage in one of its periodic spasms of emptying thousands of its people of their lives. It’s a hard film. It was hard to make: no government wanted to cooperate with it, and several tried to block it. It’s hard to watch: the more perceptive critics appreciated it, but nobody really wanted to see it; the film made money only in France. The second time I saw it, the woman I was with, after it was over, walked out of the theater, sat on the curb of the parking lot, and just cried. It’s that kind of movie. Like life.

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When I Worked

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