In the final days before Tyler Murphyís departure from The Evening Sun in May, he took me aside on more than one occasion to impart tidbits of wisdom and advice about the beat that I would be taking over. And, since I respected the fact that he had covered all things to do with police/fire/court for so long, I listened.
Often it was a litany of things to remember about court procedures and protocols, or who to call for what information. He also regaled me with more than a few tales of the things heíd seen, done and been privy to during his tenure on what is arguably our hometown dailyís most coveted beat. But in the last hour or so of his last official day on the job, he pulled me aside for a rather serious heart to heart.
Having worked side by side for almost three years, itís safe to say that Tyler was well acquainted with the vagaries of my personality. He told me that he had no doubts the police/fire/court coverage would be in good hands. But he was concerned for me personally, about how emotionally I would handle the uglier side of the job.
I have always considered my emotions to be both my greatest strength and my greatest weakness. I try I put my whole heart in everything I do, particularly my writing. And I always feel Iíve succeeded when Iím able to connect on an emotional level, through my words, with our readers. It is only then that I feel like I am truly telling the story of those Iím writing about.
Which is why, while Iím not the only one to have ever cried on deadline, I definitely hold the record for tears shed in the newsroom.
As Tyler so accurately predicted, my tender-hearted tendencies have posed a challenge. Not an insurmountable one, thankfully. But a challenge nonetheless. The harm human beings are capable of doing to one another is truly shocking. There are quite frankly things that Iíd just rather not know, particularly about the sexual-related crimes which Iíve found are far, far more prevalent that I ever realized.
Equally difficult for me is my newfound understanding of the fragility of the human body, and just how tenuous our hold to this mortal plane. A point which was, tragically, driven home to me yesterday after I spent nearly two hours on the periphery of that horrible accident which took the life of a 21-year old man.
Which is, as you may have already surmised, why I felt the need to spill my heart in todayís column.
The sense of loss for this person, whom I never met, is all pervasive. And I know that what Iím feeling is nothing to compared to what the Romanowski family is suffering through right now. My heart, and my sincere condolences, go out to them.
Tyler warned me there would be days like these, and Iím determined not to let my emotions get the best of me.
After getting a small glimpse of this beat, I have an even greater respect now for the men and women of our local law enforcement, fire service and emergency medical community for what they deal with on a daily basis. It has also given me a newfound respect for life and all those I hold dear.
When you go home tonight, hug your loved ones tight. Cherish them. And while you do, think of those who no longer have that luxury. Hold them in your heart for, as the saying goes, ďThere, but for the grace of God ...Ē
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