What does quiet sound like? Quiet is when you're in a room with over one-hundred people listening to a couple tell the story of how their daughter survived childbirth - all one pound and four ounces of her, and you can hear over one-hundred hearts pounding to escape the prison of their rib cages...thump, thump, thump. That's quiet.
I attended the Write Your Hearts Out, Tampa Bay event at the Straz Center this past Sunday. The speakers were insanely talented authors. A couple of Pulitzer prize winners, writing professors, two columnists, two fiction authors and a gentleman who is referred to often as the best writing coach in America. And as if this wasn't heavyweight enough, the Poynter Institute, one of the most prominent journalism schools in the word, sponsored the program. There was more literary and journalistic knowledge in that room than air.
Attendees came to learn about writing. And we did. But we were on the edge of our seats, trying to keep our hearts from exploding because a couple took turns telling the story of how their precious daughter survived childbirth and the subsequent months prior to her hospital release.
I am telling you that Kelley Benham and Tom French's daughter Juniper, survives. Because when Kelley's story in the Times first came out in December of 2012, I couldn't read it. The byline of Kelley's story read:
When a baby is born at the edge of viability, which is the greater act of love: to save her, or to say goodbye?
I was not about to read a three-part piece to learn that this brave couple had to say goodbye. Sorry Kelley.
Tom and Kelley are an intriguing couple who seem to be thriving in the land of opposites. Tom seems laid back and Kelley doesn't. After listening to Kelley talk for a few minutes, the words wild child popped into my head. That character of hers combined with a straight-forward-tell-it-like-it-is-genuineness and I could listen to her stories for hours.
Here's Kelley's story. These are Juniper's actual footprints.