Holding my hometown close to my heart
I was sitting on bus Saturday evening headed for a high school hockey game in Lunenburg when we started to receive word that something terrible had happened back home.
The news we were receiving was bad.
Within a short period of time we learned it was even worse.
Driving home on the bus that night I thought about my community.
I knew there was already much pain being felt at home by many, many people.
I was dreading the next day. That’s when I would have to start writing a story that I would never want to write.
Just the night before I had been in Frost Park and at the town hall as the community celebrated the kick off to the holiday season. Saturday night the celebration was going to continue with our annual parade. That’s how it always is each year. That’s how it’s supposed to be. It’s not supposed to be like this. We’re not supposed to – days later – look at a photo of an adorable little girl who, like hundreds of other children I’m sure, was so excited to be at the parade that night.
We’re not supposed to find out by reading her obituary that she loved riding horses, that she loved to dance, that she loved helping others. Those fortunate enough to know her were supposed to know these things because they watch her doing them. They even experience it with her.
This has been a difficult year for Yarmouth County. We have seen too many young lives lost.
The beautiful little girl from our community who lost her life in a most tragic last weekend way would have turned five years old on Jan. 6 – one day before the oneyear anniversary of when we lost four other precious lives in a fire in Pubnico.
I remember sitting in front of my computer screen back in January, numb, not knowing how to start a story about what had happened. The last thing I would want to do with my words is cause more pain or grief to others who are suffering.
And so I’d write words. I’d delete them. I’d write more. I’d delete those too.
It’s the same thing I found myself doing sitting at my desk this past Sunday morning when I had to write about this latest tragedy to hit our community.
For the next six hours I wrote. Pausing at times to cry, either by myself or with the people I was speaking to on the phone.
When I took a job in the Vanguard newsroom 28 years ago I knew I would never leave. I would never want to go to another newspaper. I would never think I hadn’t had a good career in journalism because I chose to stay at home.
I was where I wanted to be. It was here I wanted to raise my family. It was here that I wanted to tell the stories of my hometown.
But as I’ve learned more times than I’ve wanted, some stories are just really, really hard to write.
If something has happened that is making you cry, rest assure, it’s making me cry too.
I just got back a short while ago from the vigil that was held in Frost Park. It was overwhelming, and beautiful, to see the hundreds of people standing there silently to show their support to the family and everyone who is hurting from what has taken place in our community.
As a journalist we’re supposed to be unbiased in our reporting, but surely our emotions are excluded from that rule. I cried at the vigil. Why wouldn’t I?
My heart hurts for my hometown.
The best hug I received at the vigil was from the grandfather of the little girl we are all mourning. He and I have been friends a long time. I was looking to console him but when he embraced me it felt like it was happening the other way around.
That’s the kind of community I am proud to live in. Where we share our pain together. Where we support one another. Where we laugh together. Where we cry together.
And where when we find ourselves in situations to which we say, “There are no words,” because of my job I have to find them anyway.
All I can hope is that they’re the right ones.