This past weekend, as I constantly updated The Citizen’s Web site in response to the changing circumstances of the fire in Bellevue, I remarked to a friend, “Sometimes being in the news business is not a lot of fun.” That same statement is true for most of us who live within this small, fairly close-knit community of the North Boroughs, sometimes being so connected to the people of your community is not a lot of fun.
Here, bad things don’t happen to “other people,” they happen to one of our own. We can’t just shake our heads at the television screen as tragedy after tragedy is laid out for us night after night, then click the remote control and move on to something else.
No, life in a small town means that the people who are victims of tragedy are connected to us in many ways. They work with our mother, go to school with our children, attend our church, and live just down the street. They are one of us, and we hurt as they do, grieve as their families do, feel as helpless and lost as anyone who has suffered such unimaginable losses.
Most people, fortunately, never have to see firsthand these tragedies while they are occurring. A picture on TV or in the newspaper does not often carry the same gut-wrenching impact of being at the scene. Our police officers and our firefighters carry with them some horrifying images. So do the people of a community newspaper. My father, who started The Citizen, was dedicated to the true idea of “point-and-shoot” photography. He said that he never really took a good look through his viewfinder, because he didn’t want to see something he wouldn’t be able to forget. As I can tell you from personal experience over the last 37 years, that’s not always possible.
Today, and for the coming days, all of us will grieve with the Lasch family. The heart that breaks at the loss of five members of a family is the heart of a community that stands together when one of our own suffers. It’s what we do when we become a part of a community. It ain’t easy, but it’s what we do.