It’s never easy to say goodbye.
But lately, I’ve said it more times than I would like, and it doesn’t get easier.
You see, this week will be my last at The Times because I have accepted a job offer in a new career field.
As much as I am excited to start fresh in an exciting opportunity, I find myself sad at the same time. It doesn’t matter where I’m going or what I’ll be doing — I’ll still miss this place and the people in it.
I wish that giving two weeks’ notice wasn’t the norm for professionalism. I realize I need to stay and tie up loose ends, but at the same time it’s extremely difficult to continue working when I know in just a few more days my work won’t matter any more. Just “poof!” and I’ll be gone, and everyone will have to carry on without me. It’s hard to imagine.
My career at The Times had its ups and downs — and the public has seen most of them in print. But the memories I’ve made here will be lasting.
I’ll never forget my very first day as a reporter. I got the usual tour and a quick training on the computer system. Then Don Allison asked if I could cover Stryker School Board that night because the regular reporter couldn’t go.
Of course, I didn’t want to say no on my first day, so I agreed and went home to eat dinner at my parents’ house before the meeting. At that time, even though I lived in Williams County my entire life, I wasn’t even sure how to get to Stryker. All of my trips to the school had been on a bus heading toward a volleyball/basketball/softball game, and of course I wasn’t really paying attention back then.
Thankfully, my dad gave me directions and I made it on time. Then I was in for a world of confusion as the board members sputtered off terms like “memorandum of understanding,” “appropriations” and “executive session.” Not wanting to look dumb, I waited till the end of the meeting and quietly asked a few questions of the board president so no one else could hear.
Of course, the next morning (back when our deadlines were different), I had no idea how to write the story. Don walked me through as much as he could. And though it was quite possibly the most boring school board story in history, I beamed with pride when I saw my byline in print for the first time.
Other memories stick out in my mind for different reasons.
Like the time I walked into work and was asked “Can you go meet the governor today?” like it was no big deal.
Or the time I got paid to ride rollercoasters at Cedar Point all day. Wait, that actually happened twice.
Then there’s the time I jumped into Hamilton Lake for a story about the Polar Bear Dip — and then continued jumping each year after.
Other memories are tough. Like the time I went to Edgerton to see the historic village hall in ruins, brought down by a freak storm. Or when I had to ask the police department for information on Grace Kennedy’s then-alleged murder.
And the memory of meeting the survivor of a fatal fire who hours before had to identify her daughter’s body — that look in her eyes — it will stay with me forever.
There’s also the times I wrote obituaries for family members, or when I had to report on bad crashes that ruined people’s lives. Those are things that I wish I could forget.
Good or bad, right or wrong, my time at the newspaper has shaped who I am today. I made connections and friendships with wonderful people. I had the pleasure of telling some amazing stories. I even think I mastered the art of covering school board meetings, though I still think it’s important to ask a lot of questions.
Not everyone gets to write a farewell column when they leave their job, so I will take advantage of this chance to express my gratitude. Thank you to my coworkers and colleagues, everyone who has helped me do the best job possible. Thank you to the readers for support, and thank you to everyone who has ever told me they like my stories. You have no idea how much that meant to me.
And thank you to my friends and family, who understood when I had to get up and go because there was a fire, or a manhunt, or some other big news that needed reporting.
Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.
Like I said, it’s hard to say goodbye, but life will go on, the paper will go on, and I’ll have lots of memories to carry with me.