Any reporter who’s filed what editors call a “positive story” knows the feeling — you leave the subjects of those stories behind, to live out their lives, and you hope things turn out OK. You move along quickly and your attention turns to the next story.
As the years go by, maybe you wonder about the people you left behind: Did they get what they were looking for? Did their startup business grow? Did the girl with all that talent have a successful life? Did that kid you wrote about go to college and become a wide receiver for an NFL team?
Sometimes you want to know. A lot of times, you don’t. Maybe it’s best to remember the people as you knew them the day you met them — happy and optimistic, encouraged and hopeful. Each story (especially the ones we find and file around Christmastime) is like a movie with a happy ending and no disappointing epilogue.
You write the story and hope that the wish contained within it — implied or stated out loud — comes true, though you probably won’t be around to see the outcome.
I met Jarrod Murray briefly the other day at the Holiday Inn Express in Baltimore, at a Christmas party for kids who’ve experienced tragic loss. It’s my Christmas Eve column in today’s Baltimore Sun. (Headline: After his father and two brothers were killed in separate shootings, a boy named Jarrod gets the gift of mentors). Why? Because it addresses the tragedy of my city — the ongoing bloodshed — but also the determination of people to keep working at making things better. And, as my editor Tricia Bishop put it, “It makes you take stock of your own life and how very very lucky you are, which is just exactly what those of us who can should be doing this time of year.”
My message to Jarrod, if he reads this, is: “Some gifts do not come from Santa, and they do not come wrapped in boxes. I hope you have fun and learn from your mentors. They are a gift. Keep dreaming and making Christmas wishes, and good luck, until we meet again.”
Merry Christmas one and all.