One of the struggles of being a journalist is to always guard against becoming emotionally involved with the story you are covering.
On paper, that sounds easy.
Real life, however, can sometimes be a different kind of animal.
I can probably count on one hand when this problem has arisen since I have been a reporter. I consider that more than a passing grade since I have been pounding a keyboard -- and a typewriter before that -- since the Gerald Ford administration.
The last few days, though, have been difficult separating Steve the reporter from Steve the human being.
A few days ago, I sat down with Bishop E.L. Warren, the pastor of the Cathedral of Worship at 215 N. 25th, to discuss the death of his 8-year-old grandson in Kansas City, Mo. The case remains under investigation by the Kansas City Police Department.
The pastor and I have grown to be friends through my years in Quincy, and he and his wife, Ella, were some of the first to reach out to my own family when our granddaughter was badly burned in a house fire more than five years ago.
That friendship, that bond has grown through the years. I don't think I am breaking any journalistic rule when I say my entire family loves the Warrens and the congregation at the Cathedral of Worship.
When the bishop contacted me last Friday, asking if we could meet, not only as friends but as reporter and pastor, I could not say yes fast enough. He asked me to relay some thoughts and messages to the Quincy community.
He wanted people in the community to know this is not a time for hate, but unity, and that "the grace of God" had -- and would continue to -- see them through this tragedy.
This was a man who three days earlier had lost his grandson, Audrick "Audi" Warren, a young man who loved the Golden State Warriors, Steph Curry and texting with his grandpa.
Audi texted his grandpa a week ago tonight after the Warriors had won the NBA title and told the bishop how happy he and his dad were.
"That was Monday night," Warren said.
The next day, Audi was gone, found dead in his family's bathtub by his dad, Rod.
Our conversation was an emotional one, and several times the bishop needed a deep breath to regroup. I came away so impressed with this family's strength and how they are dealing with this tragedy that the bishop referred to as an "absolute nightmare."
Steve the reporter will continue to follow this story as the investigation into Audi's death continues.
He will deal with the facts.
Steve the human being will be there, too.
He will try and deal with everything else.