Opinion

Sometimes it’s impossible to be impartial

As a journalist, I am supposed to be impartial. I’m sorry; that’s not always possible.

Sometimes, some stories and some people stick with me too much. That was certainly the case with Bremerton attorney De’Wayne Taylor.

De’Wayne died on Dec. 31 after slipping into a coma while visiting loved ones in Los Angeles. Before he died, he touched a lot of hearts. Mine was one of them.

When I first heard of De’Wayne a few months back, Patriot staff writer Chris Mulally gave me the rundown: De’Wayne was an attorney who was diagnosed with cirhossis of the liver. His cirhossis was brought on by diabetes and he was in desparate need of a liver transplant. The problem, however, was that De’Wayne had no insurance.

It sounded to me like the kind of story a communty newspaper should do.

I figured we could make the community aware of what was going on and maybe folks would lend a helping hand. I never figured that one story would turn into the wave of community support and numerous follow ups on our front page.

Supporters sprang out of the sidewalk: local churches pulled together to do benefit concerts, Garguille’s Red Apple on Perry Avenue held a fundraiser for De’Wayne and we fielded phone calls at the Patriot office from Bremertonians wanting to do more.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot to be objective. Somewhere along the way, I began to pull for De’Wayne and his friend, Tracy Grier. I forgot I was in the newspaper business.

Looking back, I can pick the exact second I forgot I was supposed to be detached. It was the second I met De’Wayne. He and Tracy came into the Patriot office to chew the fat.

After a few minutes, I realized what a vibrant, lively man he was. From talking to him, it was hard to believe he was sick, much less dying. He had a warm, radiant smile, a firm handshake and when he left he gave me big hug.

He was a fine, upstanding, decent man who — through no fault of his own — had been afflicted with a disease that was stronger than his body. Through his sickness, he never once felt sorry for himself. Through his sickness, he had a positive outlook and smile on his face. Through his sickness, he pulled a community together for a common cause.

People donated money to help pay his medical bills because he was a decent person who needed help.

Until I met him and shook his hand, De’Wayne was just a guy in Bremerton we were doing a story on. As soon as I met him, I knew he was an ordinary person under extraordinary circumstances. Once I met him, I began to ask Chris for updates almost daily. Chris was happy to oblige, as we both were pulling for De’Wayne.

So much for objectivity. So much for not being emotionally involved with a story.

When De’Wayne was on his way to the University of Washington to get assessed for the organ transplant list, Chris and I were both relieved.

Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse.

When Chris told me on Monday that De’Wayne died, I tried — in vain — not to cry.

So much for objectivity.

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