Edward Lovern, for Stern Magazine

200806Stern.jpg

Edward Lovern for Stern Magazine

A story I worked on last October was just published last week in Stern, a German news magazine. I've worked on dozens of stories since then, but this one held a tragic resonance and I still think about the short time I spent with this grieving father who lost his 15 year old son to MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

I remember sitting in the noisy country restaurant as we ate fried catfish and the reporter asked questions. On the table was a large photo frame that Ed brought with him, with maybe twenty photographs of Ed's son, Jon. Jon was a normal healthy kid who liked playing basketball with the children at an orphanage nearby where Ed spent his childhood. Within a week of feeling sick, like he had caught the flu, Jon was lying in a hospital bed while doctors told Ed and his wife, "There's nothing else we can do."

200806Stern2.jpg

On one level, this was a public health story, as it was clear that doctors had missed the diagnosis from the beginning. But the core of the story was about this family who had lost their only child. I remember Ed's eyes welling up as he traced his fingers over the photos of Jon and I listened, holding my breath as I shot a few frames.

I remember thinking that for whatever brief satisfaction there might be from telling Jon's story and letting a broader audience know about him, that moment was harshly tempered by the deep loss I saw in Ed's eyes, and felt again when I looked through these photos. It was the last image I saw that sticks with me most, of Ed walking away from us after politely shaking my hand and thanking us for our time. He carried the large photo frame securely under his arm as he walked through the dark parking lot in a light rain, as street lamps cast gleaming white reflections in the growing puddles of water.

200806Stern3.jpg