I was out on a story at an elementary school when the Facebook messages, texts, and calls started coming in.
“Sorry for your loss.”
“Check on your ‘dbj family.”
“Praying for you.”
For some reason I thought maybe a fire had destroyed the building. Or someone had been in a serious car crash.
And then the call.
Tom: “There’s been a shooting.”
Me: “Who was it?”
Tom: “Adam Ward and Alison Parker. They’re dead.”….. “Stay there, we’re coming to get you.”
Things get a little hazy after that. I remember police surrounding my Harrisonburg news station, just 2 hours up I81. I remember calling my family to let them know I was okay. And I remember going back to my apartment. Alone. In a new city. Miles away from everyone I loved.
On August 26th a coward took two of my friends. But I refuse to let him take anything else. And that’s why I’m leaving.
I don’t know if everything happens for a reason. But I want to believe that something good can come from every situation. For me, the legacy of Adam and Alison I choose to live out is this, “Life is too short to be anything but happy.”
And I’m not.
I’m tired of reporting on police officers being shot, child abuse, innocent people being murdered, and teenagers dying in car crashes. I don’t want to tell one more story about a muslim woman being assaulted for wearing a hijab, or a young child burning to death in a fire, or a boyfriend killing his pregnant girlfriend and then stabbing himself to death.
Adam was getting out of the news business. He used to always say “I hate being the person who shoves a camera in someone’s face at the worst time of their life.”
The news is a beautiful thing. WDBJ7 will always be my family, but working at WHSV has really been a blessing. My friends and co-workers are so respectful and sincere in their attempts to share the news from across the Valley. And the public deserves that information. I admire their strength and dedication to serving others. But I’m choosing to serve in a different way.
This summer I’ll be working at a summer camp for kids. I won’t be using my degree. I’ll be making way less money. (If you can believe that…newsies know we’re not in it for the cash). haha I’ll be spending the next few months on the river, in the mountains, enjoying the sun, singing silly songs, and sharing the love of Jesus with the next generation. But the best part is, it’s what makes me happy. And for me, there’s no greater tribute to Adam and Alison, than finding happiness.
The news has taught me a lot. Some good, some bad. More than anything, it’s made me incredibly proud. Almost too proud. I’ve told a select few people about my decision to leave and they each said, “WHAT?! You seemed so happy in all your pictures.”
Welp, I’m proof… pictures lie. But I’ve been unable to let go of the pride that I feel in calling myself a reporter. Pulaski is a small town. A lot of you know how I grew up. It wasn’t always easy. And a lot of people felt sorry for me. A lot of people have reached out to me and congratulated me on my success and ability to overcome.
“Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense,”
And that’s me. But I’m hoping to trade that pride in for humility. And I know the people that matter will be just as proud of me if I decide to be a camp counselor, or a teacher, or a dentist, or a janitor. Who knows, maybe I’ll take a break and get BACK in the news business one day. (Any sportscaster positions open out there?) haha
So to my newsies – don’t let your job cause calluses. Hold on to your empathy. And remember what’s important. Loving yourself and loving others.
To my friends and family – Keep me in your prayers. Leaving the news has been a tough decision. But I know God will help me find my place in this crazy, horrible, wonderful world.
Yes, a coward took my friends. But I’m keeping my joy.