When you have no words

It’s taken me awhile to come to write this. I feel like I have nothing new to say. Grief is a universal fact, and my share is no worse than anyone else’s. In fact, it’s quite light compared to some. It’s a particularly sad time for those of us who love journalism. The news paradigm is shifting, and newspapers are scrambling to find their place in the brave new world. Coupled with that persistent underlying stress in the American Press‘ newsroom are two very recent, very poignant deaths.

When Brian Guilbeau, award-winning sports columnist, passed away on Nov. 13, everyone who ever encountered him felt the loss. Cystic fibrosis is a hell of a disease, and he beat the odds to make the life he had: living long past doctors’ predictions and fathering a beautiful daughter. It doesn’t make it easier, though. Those who worked so closely with Brian felt like he was family. I remember Brian and his laugh very well. He was a wonderful person and a great co-worker.

And now Hector, our award-winning investigative journalist, passed away on Tuesday from leukemia. I worked more closely with Hector, and I remember his thoughtfulness and his love of his craft. He could write a detailed front-page story with half the words it took his peers. In the midst of his personal mission to keep City Hall honest, he almost always found the time to pick his kids up from school. He was the fastest walker, the fastest talker I ever knew, and he personified the stereotype you see in the movies of newspaper people, down to the sharp wit.

I treasure my memories of both Brian and Hector, both too young to say goodbye to. I have incredible sympathy for their families, as I can’t imagine the pain they feel. Included in that is their American Press family. My heart is with all of you, and it’s full of grief. Both men are irreplaceable in our hearts and in the newsroom. Their deaths are a blow to the art of journalism.


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