Hold­ing my home­town close to my heart

Tri-County Vanguard - - OP-ED - Tina Comeau

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.

My home­town.

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.

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