It's been an emotional month for the Glenn family, the community that embraced them, and the folks sent to report on all this.
It's been more than two weeks since Bryan Glenn went missing after dropping his younger brother off at Woodson High School.
It's been just more than a week since volunteers found his body on the edge of Thaiss Park.
Hours ago, I returned home from Bryan's funeral at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Annandale to read a thought-provoking rehash by the Washington Post's Tom Jackman of the nightmarish two weeks in which the Woodson-Fairfax community rallied around the search for the senior football player.
Jackman clarifies some points about the Woodson student's disappearance, how police reacted and why the Post didn't give the search and eventual location of Bryan's body the same coverage other media outlets -- including this one -- did.
It was a well-written glimpse into the decisions made in their newsroom.
I thought I'd offer you one of my own.
Fairfax City Patch first posted a brief on the missing Woodson senior on Oct. 3, two days after Bryan dropped off his brother at Woodson High School and vanished. At that point he was a teen who had been missing for long enough to warrant a police report. How often this happens nationwide, and for whatever reasons, has its own set of statistics, but in Fairfax City -- with a population of 23,000 -- it's not often.
For that reason, what was likely just another statistic or news brief for national or regional media organizations was big news for us. Our readers don't come to us for the GDP or the day to day of Congress. They come to us because we have (so they tell us) a pulse on our communities, what they're thinking and what they're talking about.
And this was all Fairfax City was talking about. The next day I received several emails from upset residents and friends of the Glenn family. They felt frustrated Bryan was portrayed as a runaway. Those emails, along with the explosion of community activity on Facebook and Twitter, urged me to consider writing more.
So I did. I talked with Bryan's father, Mike Glenn, who had set up an operations center of sorts in his home kitchen. I spent time chatting with Julia Ross, who helped Bryan form his post-graduation plans. I saw Bryan's classmates go to school in all black, and captured the community vigil during their homecoming weekend. For days -- and, in some cases, even now -- I couldn't go anywhere in Fairfax City without seeing his face on missing posters.
I watched as the Woodson community helped spread fliers across Fairfax City, cooked meals for the Glenn family and embraced their neighbors in their time of need.
In all I published 13 stories chronicling the pleas from family and friends for the police and the community as a whole to take their son's disappearance as something more than just the rebellion of a disgruntled teenager.
The end in this series is one I wish I didn't have to write. Bryan's body was found, not by the officers who spent days searching with helicopters and bloodhounds, but by family, friends and volunteers.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions about how he died and why. Fairfax County police are awaiting a Medical Examiners report that could take months.
So we wait.
Part of doing my job throughout the case was reporting what police put out, but also being attentive to what became a daily struggle for many in this city: waiting, hoping, remembering, yearning for answers. I don't regret that or what I got to see and share: People who didn't know the Glenns donating hours organizing and attending search parties and vigils. Neighbors helping the Glenns track down every lead;comforting them in the saddest hours. Students spelled out "Find Bryan" and eventually, "RIP Bryan" with plastic red cups in the chain link fences of local high schools.
As evidenced by the packed memorial service Tuesday, this emotional October changed Fairfax City -- through the loss of a young man and the remarkable way its community came together.
Regardless of how Bryan died, and why, that in itself is a story worth acknowledging.