I pride myself on my strength and ability to withstand a lot in life. I walk with my head held high; I have mastered a great poker face even when I am screaming on the inside, and I have learned to stifle eye rolls.
But even I have trouble keeping it together. Sometimes I shed tears at my desk while writing a particularly difficult story.
Writing about the death of Ernest Martin Jr. in a car accident was one of those stories. Not only did I cry while writing all of the beautiful words his co-workers, friends and family shared with me about the local preacher, but I found myself shedding tears as I drove home from work, too.
I cried for Ernest, his family, his wife and their children. I have not met these people, but journalism allows you to know people without meeting them through the words of others.
Journalism isn’t easy. That same day I was filled with anger and irritation as I read Facebook comments criticizing my work and the newspaper I love and dedicate the majority of my life to. Add to that an early holiday deadline for July 4, and I was on an emotional rollercoaster.
I try to not lose sight of why I do the job that I have chosen to do. I love to share stories. I love learning about people and sharing what I have learned with readers in a way that is, hopefully, enjoyable and informative.
I enjoy blaring music as I write about tax rates. I get excited when I capture that perfect shot of a smiling kid, sometimes by accident.
This year hasn’t been easy in more ways than one. I have experienced changes that have shaken me to my core and tested my strength.
Nevertheless, I push forward. I try to ignore the haters. As Taylor Swift says, you have to shake it off.
After a day where I was tested by the universe in multiple ways, I arrived to work the next morning to receive a call from Ernest’s sweet mother, Clara.
She invited me out to talk with her family about the son, father, husband and friend they lost. Due to deadlines, I was unable to go out for the interview, but I offered to talk with her over the phone instead.
I tried to withhold my tears as she described how proud she was of her son and how he impacted his community. I wish I could have met this man people spoke so fondly of, but he left this world too soon.
Before we ended our conversation, Clara said something to me that made me forget about all the anger and irritation I felt after absorbing too much social media in one day.
“As a citizen who lives here, you need to be proud of your community around here, because they are helping. It’s amazing. You all are great people,” she said.
And I agreed. I told her that what I am most proud of is how this community comes together to help people in their time of need. From losing a home in a house fire, to taking in homeless teens, this community wraps its arms around those suffering.
I am proud of this community. While I may not always agree with what some of you say or do, I have a respect for you all, because we care. Brown County cares.
We care about what our government is doing; we care about volunteering our time with nonprofit organizations; we care about the condition of our roads; and we care about what is going on in our community.
I, too, care about this community. That is why I do what I do.
Thank you, Brown County, for always providing me with interesting stories and characters to write about, even if some of those stories cause me to cry at my desk or want to tear my hair out.
I will continue to do my best to make you proud of your local newspaper. That is, and will continue to be, my goal. We want to be your trusted news source, especially in an era where “fake news” is uttered constantly.
My request to you is to be patient with us. Try to understand we are working as best we can to bring you the news. If you have problems, please send us an email. If we print something incorrectly, please let us know. We are your newspaper and we have to work together. It’s up to us.
Suzannah Couch is a Brown County native and a general assignment reporter at the Brown County Democrat. She can be reached at 812-988-2221 or email@example.com.