Mourning Gwen Ifill

This year, 2016, has been a year of loss for me. My brother and my niece died; the presidential election made me sick with despair at the divisions in the US; my sense of hope and confidence in the future has suffered a huge blow.

But through all of this, I have soldiered on, as people do, putting one foot ahead of the other.

Then Gwen Ifill died yesterday.

Photo from Peabody Awards

It felt like a blow to the gut when I read of her death. Gwen was one of my news heroes, fair and funny. She was a whole person, not a talking head or human-shaped cutout.  You could see her mind working and her heart hurting behind the sometimes bland statements that responsible journalists must make when they report painful, unjust news.

Last night my husband and I watched the PBS Newshour. It was a tribute to Gwen, led by her fellow journalists. As the hour went on, my husband and I both cried. Here's the link to the broadcast:

This morning I am still sad. I asked my husband why I cried at the death of someone I never met, when I have dealt with much more devastating news this year with dry eyes.

"But you saw Gwen every night" was his reply. Yes, every night, Gwen's smile and intelligence reassured me that there was a reason to believe in my country's good will, in spite of what I see in front of me. She made it to the top in spite of barriers to her gender and her race. She radiated warmth and kindness. She made me happy to listen to sometimes dreadful and upsetting news stories because her demeanor said to me, "Be of good cheer. All is not lost."

Gwen, I miss you. I hope you have found a place where all news is good news, and human hatred is powerless. Thank you for the hope you planted.


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