Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Thunder of silence

"Diane est Morte."

That's what I wrote on a note to a French-speaking colleague today. It was about one of the supervisors and a long-time employee at VOA, Diane Bradley. She died of liver cancer complications today at Sibley Hospital.

I thought I was being clever writing it in French. I should have known better.

I had known Diane for 18 years, but not as more than a co-worker. To some of my other colleagues she must have been someone special, because we all gathered at the center of the newsroom to remember her with a moment of silence.

It was strange. Most days, a room full of reporters would be interested in writing, or criticizing the government or talking baseball. Some of us would be bitching about our latest work project, or the incompetence of management or how short-sighted the latest appointee seems.

But not today.

Today there was silence. We remembered a fallen friend and co-worker. And we actually kept quiet for almost five minutes. One of our own had gone and we would not see her again.

It was tempting to say something, but silence spoke volumes. Often we waste our lives with rapier wit and cutting comments, or we live on the surface. But the death of one we knew brings it home. It realigns the priorities. Finally, someone spoke up and said "Diane was a radio person; she would probably wonder why we're all standing around."

With that we all left and went back to our desks. And the noise resumed.

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