Someone asked me recently how I come up with a column topic each week. As I write this one, my 300th since beginning this endeavor in 2013, the answer is easy. I write about whatever is on my mind. 

LaTrice Currie has been uppermost in my mind for more than a month now. If you watch me on TV, you know that LaTrice has been a dear friend and co-worker for more than 24 years. In the newsroom, our desks are side-by-side, so we have long shared our ups and downs, our family stories, and our inside jokes.

In late August, she experienced a medical emergency that has turned her life upside down. She has been in intensive care, as of this writing, for more than a month. LaTrice and her family are not 100 percent sure of what happened, and hospitals are very tight-lipped, citing patient privacy.

It really doesn't matter whether you or I know why the cause of her sudden illness. The medical time. Hopefully, she will be out of intensive care soon, and can begin an extensive rehabilitation program designed to bring her back to our newsroom, and to your TV screen.

Quite frequently I'm asked, “Is so-and-so the same in person as he or she is, on TV?” With LaTrice, I can give you an enthusiastic “yes.” When I visited her recently, her nurse told me that she was not familiar with LaTrice until she began treating her.

LaTrice has been rather subdued while battling her way back from illness. “She's been pretty quiet, and I know she's not herself right now,” the nurse said. “What's she usually like?”

“Well,” I responded. “LaTrice is the light of our lives, the sunshine. Her clothes are bright, her smile is constant, and her laughter is loud and contagious.” We often joke that our studio is supposed to be soundproof, so that you can't hear outside noises while we bring you the news.

The newsroom adjoins the studio, and quite often during the noon hour commercial breaks, LaTrice's laughter seeps through the “soundproof” walls into our newsroom. “What's going on in there?” someone will say. “It's just LaTrice, having a good time!” is the answer.

During her absence, we have often noted among ourselves the irony of what is happening. No one is more informed about health than LaTrice, who has reported on that topic for two decades. She knows every doctor in town, and has covered every illness.

She is in excellent shape. Even in a profession that often requires us to grab fast food on the run, she eats right. She exercises as soon as she gets off work. Frankly, in my uneducated opinion , her fitness may have played a part in saving her from whatever tried to take her down.

As soon as we began informing our viewers and readers that LaTrice would be away for a while, the get-well cards, wishes, and prayers started pouring in. LaTrice knows that she is loved, and she is a woman of great faith.

She lost her mother a year ago, but her father has been a solid rock, looking after his only daughter. Her other family members, including her son AJ, who had just left for college when she got sick, have also been remarkably strong and supportive.

During my visit, LaTrice wanted to make sure we were getting by without her at the TV station. You see, LaTrice quietly does the job of three people, and never complains about it.

She just gets it done. When I told her which three people are now doing her job, she said to be sure and thank them. One of them is Calvin Sneed, our former competitor, who offered to interrupt his retirement to fill in for LaTrice at the anchor desk until she can return.

Calvin, who normally travels the country photographing bridges, said, “I love LaTrice. I've had all kinds of chances to do some sort of work, but I'd only do this for her.”

LaTrice also asked me to share a few words with each of you who have reached out with questions, prayers, and concerns. These are her words: “I am so thankful for my co-workers, my friends, and people I have never even met.  Your cards, your kindness, and your prayers mean so more than you will ever know.  I have a lot of work to do before things are back to normal, but I am determined to meet the challenge. 

I am blessed with a wonderful family, amazing friends, caring viewers, and excellent medical workers.  You all have been by my side during a very difficult time, and I love you all.”

As her dad told me, “She has a long road ahead, but she'll get there. Just keep her in your prayers.”

David Carroll, a Bryant native and North Sand Mountain High School alum, is the Chattanooga-based author of “Volunteer Bama Dawg,” a book which features his best columns. His website is ChattanoogaRadioTV.com, and you may contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405 or 3dc@epbfi.com.

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