Published: October 1st 2008October 1st 2008
James had now been missing for two weeks and in my office we continue to work long days pushing the campaign forward.
It has become easier for me to live like things are normal. It is a skill I think you learn over time to survive. We have been working on the case for 12 days now, and I have gradually remembered how to sleep, to laugh and even to dance. Today when I am moving, and working I can forget what campaign I am working for and I can forget how many days it has been and I can stop thinking about James, and everything can feel like it did before this happened. But when I finally stop, when I sit down and let my body relax, it all comes rushing back to me and all I can think about is James. That is when I realize how emotionally exhausted I have become.
We are all emotionally exhausted in my office I think. When we talk about the new elements of the campaign there is persistence and dedicated in everyone's voices, but none of the passion and excitement that comes with good nights sleep and the hope for
immediate, positive results. We are slogging now, this is a slogging campaign, as slow and as tiresome as moving through thigh high snow. But it is like that because the government is making it that way. If we are fighting through a blizzard then they are the ones making it snow. The people who took James are hoping that we will get discouraged, that we will get tired and eventually stop. But injustice can't just be forgotten. What the Philippine government did when they abducted James Balao they did to all of us - their state terrorism affects everyone it touches, and so as a whole people affected we will keep fighting with the Balao family for James and for justice.
It is James's family who continued to give me strength. That is ironic to me, since before this I would have assumed that giving them strength would have been part of our job. I am learning in action that it is a mutual responsibility, to hold each other up, like wood connected at an angle, we are stronger together. If it were my sister I am positive that I would have become paralized with fear and dread. But
James's family was always supportive of him, and now, though exhaustion has hit them the worst, they continue to search. Yesterday I met his niece as we traveled around the province of Illocos Sur asking for information at the regional police and military headquarters. As we sat on a curb smoking, after 15 hours of traveling and questioning, she told me about her mother, the family member I have the hardest time looking at, the one with the saddest eyes. She told me about her mother's inner strength and that her mother will just never give up. Then she talked about herself, her plans that have been put on hold because of this, her emotional strain. And she explained so casually, "I can't fall apart, if one of us falls apart then we are all done." I guess it really is just that simple.
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