Hug your kids tonight


This photo ran today on the New York Times website. It was taken by Damon Winter.

The picture is of Lionel Michaud, who found the body of his 10-month-old daughter, Christian, in the morgue in Port-au-Prince today. His wife, Lormeny Nathalie, also died when their home collapsed while he was at work.

Look at the picture.

Look at it again.

Now think about your life. How lucky you are. Maybe you’re wealthy. Maybe you’re struggling. Maybe you live in Scarsdale, N.Y., maybe you live in downtown Detroit. But you’re alive, and odds are somebody loves you, and you love somebody.

I’m about to leave Cosi to go home and eat dinner with my amazing wife and my two fantastic children. The heat will be on, the smell of tacos will fill the kitchen. After giving Casey and Emmett a bath, I’ll read them stories, then put them to bed. My son will say, “Story, song and snuggle,” as he always does. I’ll pull up beside him, tell him about secret agents or a dragon. Then I’ll sing him his favorite song, “Georgie.” We’ll hug. I’ll leave and go into Casey’s room. She’ll say, “Tell me something about your life.” I will—some story about picking my nose, or kissing a girl, or going to a dance. She’ll give me a kiss.

I am so unspeakably lucky, and it’s not fair. Why me? Why not Lionel Michaud? What did I do that he didn’t? Answer: My grandmother was a German immigrant who came to America, and had my mother in New York City, who had me in Mahopac, N.Y.

That’s it—the reason I’m here, and Lionel Michaud is there, suddenly alone and hopeless.

Look at the picture.

Look at it again.

13 thoughts on “Hug your kids tonight”

  1. Jeff, Having been through so many episodes when you ask “why am I so lucky”? you realize how fortunate we are. It just bothers me that it is such a short time until people forget their luck, and so rapidly begin to compain about trivia in their lives….great article, eddy

  2. I was sitting at home, getting pissed off at the fact that Lowe’s hadn’t called me about my freezer delivery.

    Then I saw the picture of Mr. Michaud. He lives in what may well be the poorest country in the world. His entire world has – both figuratively and literally – crashed down around him. I can’t even begin to imagine the depths of his despair.

    I’m ashamed that I was so worked up about a material possession. I have a wonderful life. I only pray that Mr. Michaud can someday find some peace and solace.

    Thanks for posting the photo and for your thoughts, Jeff.

  3. Thanks to Q for pointing me here. I’ve been so preoccupied with work that I hadn’t taken the time to even listen to all the news about Haiti. Prayers going to Haiti now. Look at the picture again. Thanks Jeff for a simple yet to the point post.

  4. If a picture says a thousand words, this says a million. I often give thanks that I am who I am not matter how flawed, and cherish every day on this planet. My prayers go out to Lionel Michaud. I will def, hug my kids tonight and every night..

  5. You used a link of this same pic on your article. In this article you write, “On his knee rests his 10-month-old daughter, Christian.”

    I’m sorry I just dont see that in this photo. Even when blown up to 10 times its original size.

    I’m just sayin’…

  6. Well said, Jeff.
    Poor people in America have it much better than poor people most anywhere else in the world. This isn’t mentioned near enough. Good thoughts should go out to Lionel, and anyone else over there that has lost both a place to live and people to love.

  7. Jeff,
    Beautiful, in a sad way. Thank you for repeatedly asking people to look at the photo. I never thought about how difficult it would be to identify even my own child amidst 1,000s of bodies, not sure I would want to find my child, but seeking an answer too.
    Thanks too for naming this post “Hug Your Kids Tonight.” I’m the founder of Global Hug Your Kid Day – which is July 19 this year. My son Mark died suddenly from brain cancer in 1998. He was 8 1/2 years old. I work year-around encouraging parents to hug their kids. Thanks for joining my team, even if unintentionally.
    A hug to you, Jeff.
    Everyone else, please hug your kids today.

  8. Jeff,
    Your words and that sad picture are SO powerful. God works in mysterious, sometimes unfathomable ways. We as human beings cannot comprehend. But we can help. We can cry. We can care.

    Thank you for your post.

  9. Like the poster above, I too am frequently guilty of being pre-occupied with work or something other than those things that are truly important to me – my wife, my kids, my siblings. So thanks, neighbor, for reminding me of the value of the things and people I am so fortunate to have.

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