The Light Shines in the Darkness

 Anna and myself on a road trip with friends

Anna and myself on a road trip with friends

When I first started American Crimecast, I thought I knew that evil existed - but I was wrong. I remember driving back from Michigan with my colleague Anna in what seemed like the longest drive of my life. By that point, I had only created two podcasts, but something had changed in me forever on that journey home. 

I remember Anna and I both holding back tears, realizing the world was so much darker than we imagined. We knew people did terrible things, but I think it was always an arm's length away - that is until now. When you research an unsolved murder case, it is still something that happened to another person - but all of that changes when you work closely with that victim's family. I have always prided myself on the ability to care and connect with people. Although I knew this would set me apart from other reporters and media outlets, it also was the reason for my breakdown. 

 Anna and I shortly before starting the podcast

Anna and I shortly before starting the podcast

Last night I stayed awake for most of the night, as I usually do now, thinking about the real people I talk about on my podcast. There is nothing that separates these people from you and me; they were all ordinary people with dreams and ambitions - until someone decided to take everything away from them. This realization is what came to me on that drive home from Nevaeh's recording in Michigan that evening with Anna. For hours we sat in the car in silence, the need for words to describe how we both felt was absent. 

It wouldn't be until several months later that I would learn to handle better the emotions I felt after each case. In the end, the emotion and heartache became too much for Anna to control - so I decided I would support her transitioning out of this path I set for myself. I remember the moment her leaving was finalized, sitting at my desk behind my computer with tears running down my cheeks. This was the bottom of the barrel for me; I started this journey to make a difference - however small it might be. I was afraid I bit off more than I could chew, and now I had to do it alone. 

That night I found a fire in myself that has allowed me to get to this point, two years later. I realized I could stop the heartache and quit; this would be the spark that lit the fire. I could stop the pain, but the families I work with had that choice taken from them. My cousin Amanda did something special for me that night; she brought me to talk to my uncle Larry - the pastor at my family's church. I don't mean to turn this into a religious post, but if you genuinely want to know how I surpassed the hole I was in this is important to the story. That night the only thing I could put into words to describe how I felt was that I learned the darkness is real, and I couldn't see the light anymore. 

 My car and recording equipment that I take on the road

My car and recording equipment that I take on the road

I made the realization that people can choose to brutally torture and take another life away, and that took my faith in humanity entirely away honestly. Nevaeh was such a young child, her life during that short time was one filled with sadness - all the way to the point she was murdered by being buried alive and covered by cement. How could God or any balance of goodness and evil in the world allow this to happen? And it wasn't just a one-off instance; I know the names of many victims now that I carry close to my heart because of the way a fellow human treated them. 

That night in my uncle's office, he helped me learn that the light will always be shining no matter how dark the world may seem. He reminded me how even a single act of kindness from myself to those hurt by other people is enough to prove that there is hope in humanity. 

My voice has been heard hundreds of thousands of times as I tell the stories of people killed by the darkness of humanity. But behind each episode, there is kindness and hope, and that is what continues to allow the light to shine in my darkness. There are many times that I don't want anything to do with the world - I find myself padlocking the doors shut and leaving the blinds closed because of feeling overwhelmed with sadness. This is news to many, as I always try to keep a smile on my face and the room laughing - but this is my truth. Some days are darker than others, but where there is darkness, there is light. 

I will not stop telling those stories, no matter how hard they may be to hear - because they need to be told. Offering kindness and hope is all I can offer, but I have learned it is easier to live with hope than to live in despair. 

Thank you as always for reading, 

Shane

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