So I just had lunch with my husband at Chili's in the Charleston Town Center, and as will happen from time to time, someone stopped at our table to say a few words. I always enjoy talking to our viewers when I'm out and about, because I consider it a real honor that people A. make the choice to invite me and my colleagues into their homes on a daily basis, and B. appreciate our work enough to say hello.
Normally these friendly conversations don't cause the emotions to well up. After all it was just three little words... but those three little words are pretty big ones, at least to me.
"We'll miss you."
Obviously he'd heard the news that after 13 years (minus a month!) at WSAZ, I am saying goodbye to what I truly believe is the best job on TV, with the most talented people, and the most amazing career I could ever hope to have. But, I have four little reasons and one big one for deciding that it is time. Their names are Claire, Ava, Bennett, Laurel, and my wonderful husband Matt.
Laurel is just 3 1/2 months old, Bennett, 2; Ava, 5; and Claire just turned 8. I have to catch my breath and wonder how in the world the time has passed so quickly. Eight more years and Claire will be driving... 10 and she'll be an adult. By then Ava will be 15, no doubt trying my patience like every teenage girl does, and Bennett won't be far from being a teenager either. And my sweet chubby happy baby will be in double digits!
As Matt likes to say, hopefully we have them spaced out enough that we'll always have at least one of them who still likes us: When the older ones are going through the trying teen years, we'll still have younger ones who aren't too embarrassed to be seen with Mom and Dad. And when the younger ones hit that phase, Claire will be in college (if she follows the hopes we have for her) and will need us for money. :-)
I don't underestimate the huge blessing it is that I even have this choice to make. So many families simply don't. My own mother was a single working mother, and only now can I truly appreciate how much it must have ripped her heart out to hear me complain about this or that, that I wasn't able to do because she had to work full-time to keep our family afloat. I remember the long summers being home alone, (my brother was always out of the house early and off with his friends) just waiting for her to get home from work (as exhausted as I know she was) and do something fun with me. I remember getting rides with other mothers so I could be on the soccer team, or the cheerleading squad, until we moved back home to West Virginia when I was in 6th grade, where we lived close enough to Poca Middle School that I could walk home from track or cheerleading or basketball practice.
So. It is for all these reasons and more that I am following my heart, honoring the sacrifices of my own amazing mother, and going where I feel in my bones that I should be. Home.
I can tell you, this has been the single hardest decision I've ever had to make. In fact the only thing harder than leaving WSAZ, would be staying when I know I need to go. Every personal milestone in my adult life has happened here. I got engaged. I got married. I lost my mother. I had my first baby. My second, third, and fourth. (And final, might I add! :-) As I look back on all the cherished memories, I will see the faces of these wonderful people who are WSAZ. I won't try to name any names because they are too numerous to mention, but I hope I have made it clear to them how much they mean to me.
If you had told me as a young girl growing up in Poca that I would one day anchor the evening news at WSAZ, I never would have believed it.
Along with my WSAZ family, I thank my cherished friends outside of work who have held my hand as I made this decision (and many others along the way) and helped me to know that as hard as it is, it's the right thing to do. And how can I forget my brilliant, supportive husband Matt, whose hard work has made it even possible for us to make this choice for our children.
Finally, thank you to the family of WSAZ viewers, including the man at Chili's, who have absolutely floored me with the outpouring of well-wishes and support. I feel completely unworthy, and yet so incredibly blessed and lucky to have been a small part of your daily routine. After Friday I have the honor of joining you-- welcoming WSAZ into my home every day, knowing those trusted faces will keep me up-to-date on what's important or amusing or inspiring about life in this wonderful place I am lucky to call home.