For those of you who met Peter sometime after the shooting incident in 2007, the voice you have always known him to have is a deep, raspy whisper. It’s the voice you expect to hear when he opens his mouth, and its the same voice you would recognize and ascribe to him if you overheard him speaking in another room.
Last November, however, when I was chatting with Absalon Rivas, one of Pete's friends and former co-workers at the Enlace offices in San Salvador, he made a statement that caught my attention. "Sometimes it's hard for us to hear Pete speak now," he had said, "because we remember what he used to sound like before he was shot."
I asked Absalon to elaborate, and he said he could actually show me what he meant.
Earlier in the afternoon, only hours before Pete was shot, they had taken some video footage of him explaining the construction of a medical clinic Enlace was helping to build in the village of Los Abelines. “I have to find the video first, but once I do, I'll send it over,” Absalon had promised.
Sure enough, he found it last week, and after watching it, I was shocked at how Pete’s original voice was quite different than I expected. Even his mannerisms were different because he was able to get the words out much quicker than I have ever seen him speak, and with little effort. I told my husband it seemed like I was watching a skit and Pete was doing an impersonation of someone else.
He wasn’t, of course. He was just being his normal self before the shooting, and in that moment I recognized how much our voices are tied to our identities. Not just the pitch and tone, but the cadence and rhythm of how we emphasize words and syllables is such a unique, distinctive attribute of who we are.Think about it: When comedic actors play the parts of Obama or Donald Trump, much of why we can identify who they are impersonating lies not just in how they look, but how they SPEAK.
For Pete's voice to have changed completely overnight must have been intense. And that's one of the topics I'll be discussing with him in detail as we plan out the second half of the book . . .
Until next month,
~ Christy ~