After leaving TV5 in 2014 to better her health, longtime news anchor Katie O'Mara returned to remember her late colleague Sam Merrill.
O'Mara took part in a celebration of Merrill's life and a special renaming of the main studio to the Sam Merrill Memorial Studio. O'Mara anchored alongside Merrill for nearly two decades.
"It's different walking in [to the studio] and not seeing him there. Cause I would always walk in after and he's always there at the desk," O'Mara said.
For nearly 20 years O'Mara ran out to the set to complete the dynamic duo affectionately known as Sam and Katie. The pair shared a passion for journalism and audiences embraced their honest reactions and felt a part of their organic chemistry.
"We were brother and sister and we weren't anybody else, but ourselves. And he always said that, 'I love you like a sister.' And I said, 'I love you like a brother.' And we just had this amazing chemistry," O'Mara said.
Their friendship continued to grow off camera when the lights went out and the news stopped.
"We would go out together and people would hug and kiss us. People we didn't know and say 'we feel you are part of our family' and we were. And it was good and it was the way it was supposed to be for all those years," O'Mara said.
She said leaving TV5 in 2014 to better her health was also meant to be. She left to fight a rare blood disease and spend more time with her family.
"I have good days and bad days. Today is a good day so I ride them," O'Mara said.
She said her faith spoke to her the day Merrill died. She believed it was God's will to take her away from TV5 before Merrill's sudden and unexpected death.
"I knew then that I could never go back to TV5 without him. It just wouldn't have been the same and things would've been completely different," O'Mara said.
She said she learned so much about life just by sitting next to Merrill. She learned about the tough business they were in and even how to be a better friend.
She called Merrill the night before her last curtain call at TV5. She was nervous and worried about what she should say.
"I said, 'What are you gonna ask me?' And he said, 'Dude, really?' He starts laughing and I thought, he's right. We don't have to rehearse this at all," O'Mara said.
She said the years she spent with him were just that, a rehearsal. The unscripted moments are what she cherishes the most. O'Mara knows in her heart their greatest show is one day yet to come.
"Life is just different without that man on this planet. It really is just different. He was a good, kind, caring, loving soul and someone I feel incredibly blessed to have spent 15 years of my life with. We knew so much about each other. I'll never have that back ever, ever. And it was a blessing, a pure blessing," O'Mara said.
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