There are many days in this job that are reasonably light and relatively normal. I make calls, I write stories, I take photos. I talk about agriculture. And the farm. And food. And livestock. Not a big deal.
But then there are days when I feel the weight of what we do in such a profound way.
I wrote here about my mother's death earlier this spring, and just shared that story in our May issue. And as you may know, Prairie Farmer is one of 18 state/regional publications in our company, and occasionally, my colleagues will pick up a story and run it as well, so some of them have run it in their May issues, too. And since those issues began hitting farm mailboxes over the course of the past week, I've been getting letters.
I should add, this is not normal.
Farmers don't, as a general rule, write in to farm magazines very darn often. In fact, my former boss and Prairie Farmer editor, Mike Wilson, used to say, "The letter is pouring in!" It was a nice touch when he'd also sing the David Letterman jingle: "We get letters…oh, we get letters…we get lots and lots of letters!" That's when you knew we'd gotten a flood of letters, which was, to be exact, three. But Mike always said that for every letter writer, there's a hundred who agree but didn't write in. So there's that, I guess.
And so I sit here at my desk, humbled, as I read email after email after email from readers who are just so kind. They offer condolences. They understand. They share scripture that helped them. And over and over, they tell their own story of cancer and loss on the farm. Of mothers and fathers and sisters and in-laws.
And it strikes me again, how very much heartache there is in the world. We are stoic Midwesterners and we smile and move on, but we all have a story. The farmer who breaks down and cries in his tractor cab, because his mother died last winter and she always used to run the finisher ahead of him. The grown woman who knows she'll always be her daddy's little girl, even though cancer ravaged him, too.
Maybe it's because we all work together? Does that make it harder? Or does that make it easier, because the rhythms of life just keep going? I don't know. But we all some wonderfully unique stories from working together, like the Dakota farmer who wrote of his mother flying down the road to pick him and his dad up after the combine broke down. She informed the officer who pulled her over that she didn't have time to listen to him, she had to get to the field! He didn't agree. He wrote up a speeding ticket, but the local elevator caught wind of it and took up a collection to pay for it. So perfect.
Regardless, today, I feel the weight of what we do more heavily. Words are powerful, and I'm humbled by your stories. I cannot thank you enough for sharing them.