I learned long ago that if you don’t grab onto certain memories, certain images, certain feelings – they are gone forever.

That’s why I urge you to grab onto some of your memories from this historic week in Western New York and tuck them into that part of your brain – and your heart – that remembers.

After covering the most significant events in this area’s history for 40 years, I know what it’s like to watch history unfold … and each historic event has its own character, its own mix of emotions, and its own conclusion – good or bad.

We can all look back on that unprecedented and toxic scenario that played out at the Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue last May. We KNEW that was history we were experiencing, and we knew we didn’t want to be figures in the center of that horrific memory … even as that memory continues to unfold.

But the history we have lived together in the past week does bear remembering. Remember this feeling.

None of us, no matter our age, our occupation, our faith, or our football savvy have ever lived through anything quite like this.

Collectively, on national television, we watched a young athlete in his prime fall to the turf and not scramble back to his feet.  

Then the history books opened.

The pages have been filling with accounts of lifesaving heroism – from the trainers and medical staff on the field to the dedicated team at UC Medical Center.

We have drawn on our faith – no matter how we define that. 

Prayers went up for #3 from homes, hearts, and houses of worship across the entire country. Prayers.

Candles were lit and carried as signs of hope outside the hospital where human dedication and a tangle of technology helped turn the tide for Damar Hamlin. 

By mid-week, we can always remember the doctor’s quote that leaped out of the UC Medical Center news conference: “… the lights are on. We know he’s home.”

In the days that followed, the team forged a video connection to Hamlin and, miraculously, he was able to communicate one phrase with deep meaning: “… love you, boys.”

You can bet Hamlin’s teammates will remember that.

Young students draped in Bills gear of all descriptions learned lessons this week from their school leaders who recognized this teachable moment surrounding every child in Western New York. These are lessons of what it means to pull together, to have compassion, to deliver kindness, and perhaps most of all, to have hope.  

Hope has sustained Western New York this week.

The team has been sustained by a man who is undoubtedly in the right place at the right time. Head coach Sean McDermott – described as the ‘perfect man’ for this situation by quarterback Josh Allen. The riveting news conferences at which McDermott presided, along with General Manager Brandon Beane, have provided a master class in crisis management and shown us how to navigate a dignified, shared path through painful, uncertain times. Well worth remembering. 

Until we see Damar Hamlin walking among us and returned to the same vitality with which he started last Monday’s game, this historic chapter is still in progress.

But there is no time like the present to grab your memories and hold on tight – how about the shivers up your spine – and the deafening roar inside Highmark – as Nyheim Hines raced the length of the field to score not once – but TWICE in the first game back after Damar Hamlin’s injury!  

But there’s also Allen, Milano, Diggs, White, Edmunds, Brown, Knox — in fact, a whole team that played lights out!

Take a breath now and remember.

A game dedicated to Damar. A week filled with hope. A time brimming with feelings. Let’s remember. Do it now.

Jacquie Walker is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1983. See more of her work here.