NORMAN — Summer schedules in the newsroom usually require some work.
Something about the thermometer’s rising makes journalist vacation days fly out the window. The bad thing about that is sometimes it’s hard to juggle what gets covered and what doesn’t.
Tuesday morning of last week, this very issue came up. Word got out sometime Monday that the demolition of Moore Medical Center would begin at 9 a.m. sharp on Tuesday. I looked around a busy newsroom and asked if anyone was interested in attending. But then something happened; I answered my own question. Yes, someone was interested in attending. Me.
I’ve mentioned in past columns that I live in Moore. Needless to say, the past month has been an emotional roller coaster. It’s still hard to drive by flattened neighborhoods. It’s still hard to think of those lives lost. It’s also still hard to think that all of this happened so fast and only a few weeks ago.
Usually journalists don’t like to show emotion, at least this one doesn’t, while they are covering an event. I’ve been in courtrooms before covering trials and have pinched myself so hard to not cry during testimonies of murder cases. An editor long ago told me that there’s no crying in journalism. Buck up and take it like a man, he’d tell me. But, on a very windy Tuesday morning, I threw that advice out of the window and, once again, I was pinching myself in an effort to turn off the waterworks.
I didn’t expect the demolition of a hospital to be this emotional. Usually, I prepare myself for stories that are going to be hard ones. But Tuesday morning, I didn’t think anything about it. I was going to get up that day, do my job and come back to the office like any other assignment. Boy, was I wrong.
As I watched bulldozers line up to take a bite out of a gnarled building, I felt a lump in my throat. Unfortunately, it was too late to try my normal pinching method. I might be the only journalist that day who cried when the walls of Moore Medical Center crumbled like a sand castle. And I’m OK with that. To some, Moore Medical Center was just a building. Steel bars and concrete. But to me, that hospital was part of a community. My community.
As I watched years worth of construction come down in a matter of seconds, I started to think. People began their lives here. People ended their lives here. This was a second home to many employees. Moore Medical Center also was a landmark to the corner of Fourth Street and Telephone Road. I’ve not been by the site since Tuesday. I’m not sure if I’m ready to see what it looks like right now. And I’m almost certain when I go by again, it will be another emotional moment.
When I do visit, I’ll remember the encouraging words that Moore City Manager Steve Eddy spoke last Tuesday: “A hospital is such an important part of a community in terms of service that is provided and just community life, really. It is sad to see what’s happened to it, but it also means new life and new things. That’s true with everything in town here. It’s sad, sad, sad to see, but out of it will come new and better and bigger. We’ve done that two times now with storms in the past and it gets better every time.”