WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) anchor Maryalice Demler returned to work Wednesday to deliver a heartbreaking and moving explanation of why she was absent for about two weeks during the February sweeps period.
Viewers might have known earlier about the sudden death of her companion, Joseph R. Murphy, through a death notice in this newspaper or Demler’s Facebook page.
Those venues gave the explanation only in words, which can’t speak as well to the emotions as hearing it from a loved one speaking on television.
Demler’s recorded message to viewers at the end of the 5 p.m. newscast Wednesday powerfully spoke to what Murphy’s family and she have been going through without becoming too maudlin.
I imagine Demler recorded the message because it would have been just too hard to deliver it live without completely breaking down. Demler started talking after a traffic report without being introduced. The story only aired during the 5 p.m. news. It is available today on Channel 2’s website.
In a tweet Wednesday night, she posted the video and said, "Hearing his story might save YOUR life or your loved one."
Wednesday night I explained my two week absence from @WGRZ. My beloved Joseph Murphy died unexpectedly at the young age of 40. Learn more about Joe's Legacy... hearing his story might save YOUR life or your loved one. https://t.co/QkN3mz0jPk
— Maryalice Demler (@WGRZmaryalice) February 28, 2019
She hit all the right notes – especially by using Murphy’s sudden death as a cautionary tale and celebrating his young children.
Noting that people had been calling the station or asking on social media where she has been, Demler started by saying Murphy “died unexpectedly in my arms of a suspected pulmonary embolism.”
“It was devastating and tragic in so many ways,” she said.
But she and Murphy’s family wanted some good to come out of it.
She noted that Murphy, who was 40, had Crohn’s disease for 20 years, was used to pain and “missed the warning signs” of the embolism for more than two days.
That led her to say Murphy’s family wants his death “to be a clarion call for everyone – especially guys who like to tough it out” – to get treatment if pain lasts more than a day.
She called Murphy’s two young children, Finnegan, 8, and Ella, 6, “the loves of his life and the center of his universe.”
She noted that Murphy's college friends from St. Bonaventure University, co-workers at KeyBank and people in his Leadership Buffalo class were helping to raise money for the education of his children because he was unable to get substantial insurance with his Crohn’s disease.
With Demler’s voice cracking as photos of Murphy, his children and herself were on the screen, she had a finish that might have led many viewers to reach for tissues.
“For me personally, Joe’s life was a blessing and a treasure,” said Demler. “I am heartbroken but so grateful for the time that we had. He was a fun, supportive and understanding partner and I will never forget him. And his love for his kids … his family … and for me.”
The three-minute tribute ended with a video showing Murphy and Demler kiss and the anchor saying “I love Joe Murphy.”
The station went to commercial after that so there was no discussion after she finished.
No words needed to be said after the beautiful way it ended.