On Wednesday we watched a burning fire and plumes of smoke fill the air from a nearby car bomb. The ambulance lights flashed and the air was filled with the sounds of sirens.
At that point we didn't know if it had hit our favorite restaurant where children play in an outdoor garden and brides favor the beautiful scene for weddings. Next door is the grocery store where I buy my favorite ice cream.
Our security advisor worried about a secondary bombing so he wouldn't let us drive the few blocks to check it out. We waited on a death toll from police and watched the distant flames with sadness. Later we found out just three people were killed and we sighed with relief. Three lives are better than 20 lives lost.
That night I talked to Hussein, one of our Iraqi reporters. We talked about whether or not he would apply for refugee status in the states. He is eligible for a resettlement program that would give him eight months of help in the states because of his dangerous job. Journalists are targeted and killed here.
"They'll ask you if you're afraid," I said. "Are you afraid for your life?"
"I was," he said.
"Are you still?" I asked.
"Not anymore," he said. "I got used to it. Even you got used to it. What if that car bomb was in the United States would it be the same?"
I hung my head. Car bombs, suicide bombings, assasinations are so common they are the thing of jokes. Yes violence has dropped but it is still here and the most troubling thing is it is normal.
Today we found out a female suicide bomber killed one and injured six in Fallujah. One of our reporters joked that women didn't make good bombers. She'd only gotten one person. We laughed because it is easier than crying.