I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many stories I’ve told in my nearly 20 years as a journalist. A lot. Like, thousands. Obviously, some meant more than others. There are plenty that left my head and heart moments after telling them. Others have stuck with me. Sometimes when you’re a reporter – you have to be a bit robotic. At least that’s what they say. In fact, I can remember someone telling me that when I first started. I hated that. Never worked for me. I’m not only a reporter, I am a human being with a ridiculously sensitive heart. It can get me into trouble. At times, it made it difficult to do my job. I’d be covering a child abuser and would want to throw something at him. A lying politician would make me sick to my stomach. Seeing a dead body would hurt my heart so much I thought I might throw up. One time I saw a mom who’d come to a car accident that her son was involved in. He didn’t make it – and I will never in all my life forget the sound that came from her. It wasn’t a cry. Wasn’t a scream. It was the sound of heartbreak, if that’s a real sound.
I would lean on the photographer unlucky enough to be stuck with me that day. I would very often cry on their shoulder. I tried not to. I tried to be strong, but I am a human being. A mom. A sister. A daughter. A wife. A human. And I’m emotional. Just ask my husband or my kids.
So, yes, there were plenty of tough stories. But, there were a handful of stories that impacted me more than I could ever say. Stories that will always be with me. I would say – those people know who they are – because the truth is, a few actually saw me cry. I could normally hold it in until the interview was over – I would practically choke on my heart – but, could somehow keep it in, for the most part.
A few times I just couldn’t. I know, not very professional. I know.
One of those times was my interview with Mindy Sauer. For some reason, I was the only reporter she talked with. She came to the station and I sat across from her, asking her questions about her little boy who was fighting a brain tumor. She was so strong. I wasn’t. I cried. Not too much. Not a ridiculous amount or anything like that. But, there were tears. I was just pregnant with Ella and very emotional as she told me that without a miracle, her boy would die. She told me that as much as she loved Ben, that God loved him more. I think about that all the time. All. The. Time. I wasn’t the only person that Mindy Sauer inspired. Thousands of people read her blog updates, they hung on every word. Hoped. Prayed. Wore blue.
We were blue.
Ben died just a few weeks after that interview. I remember writing a story about his life and legacy – sobbing at my desk. My co-workers knew how impacted I was and they understood it – because they felt the same. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the newsroom that day. Ben taught me a lesson that day – that it was okay to be emotional, to be human. It was more than okay – it was necessary.
Ben Sauer left a legacy.
He was ‘any child’. My child. Your child. He embodied innocence. Thousands of children die from cancer every year, but for some reason, there was something different about Ben. Maybe it’s because he was a twin. Maybe his mom’s blog? Maybe both. I remember struggling with that. I remember saying it in one of my live reports – something like – I know that many – way too many – children die and each death is a tragedy. Each loss is unbearable. No child should have to face the monster that is cancer. But for a moment, Ben Sauer was the face of childhood cancer – and only good could come of that. Only good could come from awareness, fund-raising, bringing a community together. It was a difficult time for many.
Three years after Ben’s fight – I talked with Mindy. I reached out to see if she wanted to do an interview for Totally Buffalo. She did. I’m so grateful to her for that. I can’t explain it – and this is going to sound so strange – but, I really wanted to know that they were okay. That the Sauer family – who’d gone through the worst kind of nightmare – came out okay. With two babies since Ben’s passing, faith, prayer, and a never ending support system – the truth is – they are kind of okay. Depending on the day. The moment.
It’s a new normal for them. Mindy really opened up about life three years ago and life now.
Over the next few days I will share Mindy’s story. I wanted to turn it into a few parts – simply because her words are very powerful. I don’t want to leave anything out.
I started Totally Buffalo for a few reasons – one was to share important, inspiring stories. This sets the bar pretty high for me.
Thank you, Mindy. For sharing your story with us. You are an inspiration.
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