Word came early last Saturday afternoon, in a press box.
It was a good place to hear such bad news.
Many of us covering the Weber State-Utah football game knew Associated Press sportswriter Lynn DeBruin and were aware of her fierce battle with cancer. So it was fitting, I suppose, that news of her passing quietly spread along press row inside Rice-Eccles Stadium.
A longtime friend who does part-time work for the AP mentioned it to me. In turn, I mentioned it to colleagues at the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune.
By the end of the game -- the first quarter, really -- those of us who knew her had all heard the sad news.
In the interest of full disclosure, Lynn and I weren't particularly close. We were friends, of course. We had a working relationship but we didn't spend time together away from work. We never went to lunch or took in a ballgame or played golf together, which now seems unfortunate.
Still, she and I sat next to each other for two seasons covering the Utah Jazz. We did interviews together before, after and sometimes during games at EnergySolutions Arena. Her nameplate was next to mine inside the working press room and more often than not she beat me to the arena, which meant I missed out on some elbow room courtesy of her backpack, giant purse and computer bag.
Again, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I didn't like walking into the room two hours before the game and seeing her stuff spread out into my workspace. I'd almost always roll my eyes, let out a sigh and curse myself for not getting there a little earlier.
Inevitably, though, by the time I'd taken those few steps to my work area, Lynn would look up, apologize and corral her belongings.
"Oh sorry, Jimbo," she'd say. "Let me get some of this crap out of your way."
Last season Lynn broke her ankle skiing and spent what seemed like six months with crutches and a walking boot. Already a cancer survivor with a number of health problems, the bad ankle, the boot and the crutches made her job infinitely more difficult.
Those horrible crutches were often parked in my little work area when I arrived in the press room. Like a big jerk, I'd see them and think, "She better move those things."
And she always would. Always.
And she'd apologize. Always.
Now it's my turn to apologize.
I wasn't as good a friend as I should have been, and I'm sorry for that.
Sure, I helped when I could -- when it was convenient -- and I tried to provide a listening ear when she wanted to vent about her health, or her mother's health, or the seating arrangements for the media inside the arena.
Though others were much kinder than I was, I'd sometimes help carry her things and sometimes I'd bring her pregame meal to her seat.
Sometimes I stood next to her while we interviewed coaches and players before and after games; sometimes we stood on opposite sides of the media pack. In a weird sort of way I felt protective of her, not because she was a woman working in a male-dominated industry, but because she was a member of the Salt Lake press corps and I frankly wasn't about to let out-of-town coaches, players or beat writers give her a hard time.
I think she might have felt the same way about me, too.
I remember when the Spurs came for a visit last season. Lynn and I stood side by side while San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich did his pregame media availability.
Popovich can be smug and is notoriously cranky with reporters trying to do their jobs. It seems he tees off on one or two, just to keep the others on their toes.
On this particular night, it was my turn to suffer his derision. I came with a legitimate question in mind but when I asked it he offered a rude, condescending response.
I tried to play it cool but later, as I as I walked back to the press room, I was furious and Lynn sensed it.
She quickly hobbled up to me with those cumbersome crutches and quietly said, "It's OK, Jimbo. It was a good question."