The New York Times | February 11, 2016
As soon as Alisa Weinstein answered her cellphone last April and heard her sister Jen’s voice, she sensed what was coming. ‘‘It’s been confirmed,’’ Jen said. Alisa stood motionless at the foot of her bed in her tiny San Francisco apartment; just a moment before, she was getting ready for work as a researcher at Uber. She knew what her sister meant: The government was now certain that their father, Warren, was dead, executed by his jihadi captors. She felt herself ‘‘crumpling,’’ she remembers, but quickly ‘‘went into automaton mode.’’ She told Jen that she didn’t want any details. She didn’t want to think about how he had been killed.
“How do you occupy your brain?” Alisa texted a friend later that day, wondering how she would get through her five-hour flight to Washington to join Jen and their mother, Elaine. As she sat on the plane, she was besieged by nightmarish images — her father awaiting execution, her father being shot in the head, her father’s throat being cut, her father beheaded. For more than three and a half years, ever since Warren, who worked in economic development, was kidnapped in Pakistan at the age of 70, she had fought to keep these images at bay. Now they swarmed through her.