Amidst all the #safetypin, #notmypresident, and the ten hundred thousand other variations of reaction, ranging from revenge to revolt, in the aftermath of the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America, one of my very favorite people in this world, Gwen Ifill, a lifelong journalist and most recently a co-anchor of the PBS NewsHour with Judy Woodruff, quietly took her leave of life here on the ant farm this past Monday.
I could fill the rest of this page/space (I don't think the Interwebz have pages per se) with links from print and broadcast outlets of every stripe and from all points on the map of this nation about her passing but they all come down to pretty much the same thing: a really wonderful professional who showed up on time and ready to do her job every day is now no more.
You wouldn't have to dig deep (if at all) to learn she was a woman, a woman of color, a woman of color starting in a profession when she did where she was one-of-a-kind, a 'unicorn' as I heard a PBS colleague characterize her Monday evening, battling back tears as the realization she was dead started to sink in.
The PBS NewsHour is my refuge on work nights. I give my time to total strangers for a living and spend much of every working moment agreeing with contradictory positions on often esoteric issues about which others care passionately which leave me cold for the most part.
I cannot handle clowns and clownettes with gaudy graphics shrieking slogans and buzzwords from the box of electric fire as shaky video, in the biz called 'B' roll, fills the screen, briefly, while I, the viewer, struggle valiantly to understand what I'm seeing and why. Just as quickly, it's gone, usually chased by more noise.
The PBS NewsHour is an hour's summary of world events created by adult professionals for an audience they assume has some passing familiarity with people and places not always in a Facebook trending news stream. They don't rush through yet another massacre in a war-torn spot in the Middle East where bleeding and blasphemy are the primary industries but strive to provide me a 'why' behind the 'who' and the 'what.'
Very few people, for my taste, in recent years on broadcast (and don't get me started on cable), did that better than or even close to as well as Gwen Ifill. I'll miss the 5000-watt smile she offered so generously and often to guests on, and viewers of, The NewsHour, behind which lay a keenly analytic mind, an occasionally acerbic tongue and a ferocious insistence on the pursuit of the truth of the heart of the matter every time.
I see days of trial and travail ahead filled too often I fear with victims rather than victors for my country (more so than for myself) and my North Star has been removed from the heavens creating a darkness almost, but not quite, lost in the blackness of baleful knownothingness that has replaced comity and civility in our political intercourse, leaving us heroes and villains and nothing in between.
And I wonder how we'll find our way home. And who will tell us when we are there.