I'll never forget my reaction after hearing about two September 11th widows who were planning to travel to Afghanistan because of a kinship they felt with war widows there: I can't believe it. That reaction would return countless times during the two years of filming.
Women still forced to wear burqas long after the fall of the Taliban? Beyond belief. The director of Kabul's widow program kidnapped hours after I hang up the phone with her? Beyond belief. Two American moms who've never been to a third world country find true connections with women they meet there? Beyond belief.
I also happen to be a huge fan of alliteration. Especially when it comes to B's. My maiden name is Brundage. Beth Brundage. And my three sisters--Bonnie, Briana and Brita--also share the BB madness.
Alliteration plays an even more important role here. From the beginning this has been a passion project that addresses the themes and values that are most important to me to explore: coping with loss, overcoming adversity and personal courage.
As I reflect on those themes, I'm reminded of the very first story I ever covered in television news. It was my first day on the job as a general assignment reporter in Salisbury, Maryland - home of Frank Perdue and WBOC, the biggest little TV station in America, where non-cable homes kept ratings so high, they'd put America Idol to shame.
Much like September 11th, it was a beautiful day. The sky was bright blue, the air was still, and it was unseasonably warm for April. As midday approached, and Delmarva's tough, sea-weary fishermen (watermen if you're a local) headed home from the Chesapeake Bay, they passed a small canoe with one adult--an uncle--and two children--his niece and nephew. It was a familiar site--the laughter that comes when kids are first learning to hook a worm, and the almost giddy excitement that defines spring fever.
By 2pm, the sky began to darken. As winds picked up, a small craft advisory went into effect, and the 15-foot canoe began rocking. As the uncle rowed frantically to bring the family to shore, the boat capsized. Hour after hour after hour, he held his niece and nephew tight in his arms. But the seas became more violent and the water was cold.
One by one the children slipped from their life vests, and they were gone.
When I met the watermen the next day and interviewed them on the docks, they were using their trawlers not for fishing, but for the grim task of searching for the children's bodies. I don't remember much of what they told me. What I remember is how they wept. And how they gave up days of earning an income to devote themselves to pin-pointing two watery graves in an effort to bring some peace to a devastated family.
I learned a lot about community that day. About how strangers care for one another and make the kinds of sacrifices you might only expect from your closest family and friends.
Whether that happens locally or as part of the international community, the healing result is unmistakable. And those who witness it are often struck by a sense of awe that can only be expressed in one way: Unbelievable.