Sunday, May 16, 2021

Carrying a Load


It was a Sunday, December 12, 1993, one month and one day after Kim gave birth to Hannah when I flew to Guatemala to pick up our adopted seven-year-old boy, William. Kim couldn’t travel yet because it was too soon after giving birth, so it was just me. Neither Kim nor I could speak Spanish well, so our little family became tri-lingual: English, Spanish, and Charades. A whole lot of charades.

Besides doing all the paperwork, getting passports and approvals for travel, meetings with embassy officials and lawyers, there was one day for sightseeing and limited travel. Wil and I had a “driver” named Walter who I learned late in my stay he was actually our bodyguard. Walter made sure Wil and I didn’t stray too far off the beaten path, didn’t wander down streets where “gringos” weren’t welcome.

On Wednesday of that week, Walter took Wil and I to Antigua to a mission and a market. We also stopped at the orphanage Wil had stayed in so he could say goodbye to his friends and I could meet them. Thomas and Elizabeth were the house parents for the boys and girls at this orphanage. It was tough on Wil and tough on me. Saying goodbye generally is, I guess.

On our way home, there were two Guatemalan women and one Guatemalan girl walking along the side of the road. They wore colorful clothing, and on their backs were what looked like heavy loads. Being ignorant and rather impolite as I think back, I wanted to get their picture to show Kim the countryside and the people. Walter stopped the car. The women were embarrassed, even after Walter explained to them in Spanish what I had wanted to do. One would push the other in front while the other woman hid behind her with her daughter.

I felt ashamed. I didn’t mean to embarrass them. Walter assured me it was okay. I ended up not taking the picture. But I won’t forget them, nor will I forget that day.

I reflect on that trip and that day often. I think back on those two Guatemalan women and the little girl. The girl was barefoot, and the two women wore sandals. The load they carried must have been heavy, because both women were stooped over. Even the little girl, maybe nine or ten, had a load to carry. Hers wasn’t nearly as big as the two women, but it was a load nonetheless.

I don’t know how far they had to walk. We were way into the countryside. I hadn’t seen a village nearby, but that isn’t to say there wasn’t one. There was no pickup truck to carry them or their load. They walked along a rutted dirt track up and down hills. Carrying their loads. Big and small.

This week, I was visited by a counselor who wanted to fill me in on one of the students I was working with. Mom and older brother suffering from severe mental illness. The boy I worked with had gotten beaten up by a group of other boys and lived in fear.

An administrator stopped me in the hallway to share some information about another student, a female who suffered. Much of it, brought on by herself, but she suffered just the same. So did her parents.

Each of those students, each of those families carrying a load. Unlike the Guatemalan women and the young girl, we, I, can’t see the load these students carry. Unlike the Guatemalan women and the young girl, we, I, don’t see the stooped shoulders. We might even see a smile- a fa├žade, but a smile, or partial smile. Sometimes, not even that. Just a flat affect.  

And there are others walking hallways, sitting in offices, walking the streets, driving their cars or trucks, sitting on sofas in the living room, carrying loads.

Just because we can’t see the load they carry doesn’t mean they don’t have one. A relationship turning south. A job on the brink. Bills mounting with no income to pay them. Kids who suffer, who are unhappy, who are afraid, who might want to give up, who feel no one cares. Unloved. Uncared for. Hungry, not only for food, but for comfort, a hand, a shoulder, a hug, a kind word.

And we, you and I, can provide that for them if we just take the time to notice. Doesn’t cost much but time. Doesn’t take much to say something kind. Doesn’t take much at all. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

Time is running out on the special preorder deal offered by the publisher for 15% off the Lives Trilogy and Prequel! The links are below! I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover, or perhaps, discover, the Lives Trilogy and Prequel. 

The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they live in separate parts of the country, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11-year-old Brett McGovern, and 11-year-old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out.

Book One, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. 

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:

The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. No leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families.

Book Three of the Lives TrilogySplintered Lives:

Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern was killed. He has no idea that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. 

Outnumbered and outgunned, George is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death?

I have an author's website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page.

On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at:

Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader's Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is willing to talk. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted.

Spiral Into Darkness: Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!

He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.

Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by 

The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer. Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family.     

Photo courtesy of Ives Ives and Unsplash



  1. Loved reading this. You are very talented.

  2. Thank you so much for giving it a read. I appreciate your kind words.


Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe