Monday — a few days after floods devastated my home state of West Virginia — I returned to work after a week-long vacation. The red light on my phone was blinking when I arrived at the office, which meant several voicemails awaited my attention. I listened, jotted down notes and deleted them, one by one.
And then I heard one that made me weep in my little cubicle here inside the Charleston Newspapers building.
It was an 83-year-old woman who called to talk about a story that was published while I was away. I had written about Nick Harper, a teenager who once lived in a storage unit until he could be eligible for a transitional living facility (click here to read). She was so moved by Nick’s story and wanted to call and chat about it.
She talked about Nick, but her words seemed to fit perfectly with what has happened in the aftermath of the floods.
“It breaks my heart,” she said of the story about Nick. Those are four words I’ve heard a lot in the past few days.
“I don’t have much, but I would’ve shared it with him,” she said. I’ve seen the good people of West Virginia share — whether they had it or not — over and over this week.
“Tell him I would’ve loved him,” she said, before delivering the dagger, “and I would’ve loved him when things were at their worst.”