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Editor's Note: Remembering the stories that hurt to tell

Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 9:55 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 10:02 a.m. CDT

Welcome to The MidWeek’s new look. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably noticed we have a new layout for our front cover.

From time to time, it’s good to update and freshen up.  But don’t worry: the change is only cosmetic. Inside the paper, you will still find all the content you love and depend on, like Looking Back, Town Crier and lots of local news about the people and places you care about.

Let me know what you think, and as always, enjoy your MidWeek.

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As a reporter, I was always very much aware that the stories I was working on, while a matter of routine for me, were extremely important to the people involved. In many cases, reporters chronicle events that change lives forever.

But while I always took that seriously, I admit I don’t remember every story I ever wrote, not even the big ones.

Others I can’t forget.

A glance through my personal archive – I couldn’t bear an in-depth look – showed that in just six years, I chronicled dozens of deaths. Some were violent, some were accidental. Some were untimely, some were expected. Every one left behind grieving people struggling to make sense and to go on.

A note about reporters, at least the reporters that I have known: we don’t like it when bad things happen. When we approach the family of a person who has died, we are not trying to cause them pain. Our job is to be storytellers, and it gives us no joy when the story hurts to tell.

Of all of those dozens of families and friends I called over the years – every one with my palms sweating and a pit in my stomach; that call never gets any easier – only a few ever declined to speak with me, a choice I immediately respected. Many wanted to talk about their loved one. They want people to understand who that person was. They want people to know what has been lost.

I remember some of those conversations. Years later, I am still moved to tears when I think of them, even if I kept up my professional front and my eyes dry at the time. I didn’t know these people, but I can feel their loss. I can remember their names.

When William Curl accepted a plea agreement last week, I felt strange – like the resolution of the court case was supposed to bring closure, was supposed to bring some kind of peace regarding the Antinette Keller murder, yet it didn’t.

I don’t know why I expected that. I expected that same sense of peace in the past, as cases were closed on other deaths. Yet I’m always surprised that the ending feels not like shutting a neatly-organized drawer with a satisfying click, but more like closing the cover of a book with a sad ending. Sometimes you think you wish it had ended differently. But what you really wish is that it had never begun.

Do I wish I could forget some of these stories, let go of feelings of loss that are not my own?

Sometimes. But at the same time, I feel a responsibility to remember.

After all, I am the storyteller.

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