When I worked in the news business, somewhere down the line a story became just another story.
Writing this column is different because now I feel like I’m sitting down and having a chat with you. Before I became a storyteller, I worked in the mainstream news as a television news reporter and newspaper reporter.
I’ve also been involved in a countless number of projects involving writing or journalism. I was able to separate my personal life from my jobs, mostly because I didn’t want my family to hear about the car accidents where people are screaming for their lives.
There are only two times I recall when a story affected me to the point of tears. This is amazing because both stories had nothing to do with me.
The first time I ever cried was when all those children were killed in Connecticut. A young man walked into a school and shot and killed 20 kids, all aged six and seven.
I remember watching the story on the news and feeling like the world had gone mad. “How would the kids know what’s going on?” I asked myself. “They would think it was some kind of a game,” came my own reply.
Then I thought of the horrific factor (almost every story has a horrific factor) of what the children must have seen when they finally realized it was not a game. It was then I buckled over and started to cry.
I thought of the parents, siblings, grandparents and the community. This level of violence would rip the heart of a major city, never mind a small town like Newtown. After settling down from the shock of the story, I prayed to the Creator for the blessing of those tiny souls.
The other story that affected me is closer to home. Having been in Buffalo Narrows in Northern Saskatchewan, I recall the kindness, humour and generosity of the community.
Then I learned that, in the span of less than a week, four girls had committed suicide. The girls ranged in age from 10 to 14. Then I started to hear of other First Nations children killing themselves in epidemic proportions.
Please don’t think I’ve been living in a bubble and not realizing the high rate of suicide. My family has been affected by suicide. My youngest brother, Logan, took his life when he was in his late 20s.
After months of searching, the hardest day of my life came when his body was found by my stepfather. I always thought maybe Logan had just wandered off and would make his way back home sooner or later.
Even months after his burial, I would see him walking down the street. Several times I had to turn around and take a second look. I thought maybe the body that was found wasn’t Logan’s. I convinced myself it could have been anyone because he was so decomposed. I knew all the evidence, including medical and police reports, conclusively said it was Logan. I just couldn’t accept it. It all happened over a quarter century ago, but I still remember it like it happened yesterday.
There are many regrets over Logan. The biggest is not having more time to spend with him. We would talk on the phone and meet at family functions, but as the big brother I always felt I should have spent more quality time with him.
There wasn’t a hint, not a clue, on what he was planning to do. And believe me, it was planned. My mother, of course, was most affected and she went to her grave with the broken heart of having lost one of her children.
Suicide affects many members of the family. There is help out there and people more than willing to give that extra time when someone is feeling so down that suicide appears to be an option.
I’m glad I’m not involved in the mainstream news business anymore. I appreciate being able to share stories. I hope you can relate to some of them.