I wake up to NPR every morning. My old alarm clock (complete with cassette player!) is stuck at a volume that’s too loud for my slow-to-wake tendencies. And I have to move a little too much to reach it, and I’m lazy. So, I push buttons on my little iPod touch to get my KWGS streaming radio of Morning Edition on my NPR app. So. Lazy.
It has happened twice in the last months that I have been jolted into reality from my fight to make myself get out of bed. I know the voices of Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne, their various replacements, the morning reporters. And I can tell when something terrible has happened.
Voices change. They speak differently. I hear unfamiliar voices in the studio, not just from a short quote in a story.
Something is wrong.
Something happened while I was sleeping.
Two somethings have happened recently: the shooting in Aurora and today, when the ambassador to Libya and three others were murdered. The Morning Edition hosts sound different. Their voices changed. They were urgent and seemingly unscripted. They’re sorting out breaking news.
Both times, I sit up in bed in the dark. My mind sensed the changes on the radio, but it takes some moments to figure out what has happened.
And then the news is terrible. Today, I listened as Steve announced that it had been confirmed by the State Department that Chris Stevens had died. It was online on other news websites (I checked as I listened), but they were waiting on the State Department to make it official. This is serious business.
They rarely know many details right away at 6ish AM, when news breaks. They try to share what they know, but so much is up in the air as events happens, reports trickle in.
Terrible things happen all the time. But there are some moments, like this morning, that feel especially heavy. Maybe it’s because I just woke up. Maybe it’s because an ambassador is dead, and that’s not a thing that’s supposed to happen. Maybe it’s because things like this move so quickly and I want those who make quick decisions in response to these things will make the right choices. Maybe it’s because death is terrible.
Maybe it’s because my heart knows this is just one of the terrible things that happened while I was sleeping.