Small communities experience and embrace death in unique and profound ways.
Death is something we seldom don’t talk about, but happens in all of our lives.
In a small community, death is even more profound to the volunteer fire department members first on the scene, the emergency professional crews, RCMP and hospital staff.
These people are also our neighbors, our best friends and the guy down the aisle at the grocery store.
I’ve been holding back writing on this topic, but feel the timing is appropriate. I will start with my own experiences with death.
I was 14 years old, now looking back, way too young to be dating, but I was. He was 17 and his name was David. It was Easter, relatives from the Crowsnest Pass were down at my hometown in Coronation to visit.
David worked part time at Home Hardware building supplies. On the tragic day, I remember talking to him earlier in the day and he wasn’t looking forward to work. Sadly, he never made it home. An unfortunate accident happened; the load of lumber fell from the forklift and pinned him between the machine and the fence.
I remember the phone call and my dad taking me to the hospital. My gut feeling told me, he was gone. I remember my 6 foot 2 tall father, wrapping his arm around me saying, “It will be ok Brandi, it will be ok – Everything happens for a reason.”
Initially, I was shocked, mad and angry.
5 Stages of Grief: 1. Denial and Isolation. 2. Anger 3. Bargaining 4. Depression and 5. Acceptance.
Life is so unfair.
David taught me how to drive, taught me about love and loss, the importance to believe in oneself and is to blame for my obsession for kit kats. He had given me handwritten love letters in our young romance, enough to fill a shoebox and, yes, I still have…man I hold onto to things for years.
Since then, many phone calls of sad news, celebration of life were attended and tears were shed. We have also lost my grandmas, more relatives and friends… Sadly, the list goes on, of angels heaven has gained.
One of the most profound experiences in my life was the pleasure of knowing the young man, Steven Harding.
I had the opportunity to photograph and talk to Steven many times, as reporter for the local paper. He was an amazing person. He is greatly missed.
I will never forget the day he passed away. It was a Sunday.
The Monday following, the newspaper was going to the printers and simultaneously there was a story to be published featuring Steven awarded the Legacy scholarship.
I had to make the phone call to the family to ask what we should do. Leave the article to publish or take it down? The decision made was to remove the article and save the space to announce his celebration of life. Many corresponding phone calls followed, emails and hours behind the computer, and we beat the publishing deadline to include Steven’s day of rest.
It was a moment in my life, when I knew I was going to be on the other end of the newspaper for the rest of my life, as I knew how important this was, how enormously shocking and heartbreaking this was too.
Now with the change of going to an online newspaper, we do not have to wait for publishing deadlines or what day a deadline is. We can share news; good, bad or otherwise, in a very timely manner. With Social Media, it can be shared across the world in mere minutes. We can add videos, photos, graphics, links, and there is no space restrictions.
This past week was another difficult time for our small town, with the sudden loss of Kyra Kelly.
I struggled with heavy sadness, searching for photos of the beautiful young women. I messaged family and friends to confirm, inquire and offer assistance and condolences. I admired students and staff at the school, who rallied together, once again, to honor a young life with a memorial bulletin board, thoughtful notes to her family and photos.
What I am trying to say, as tears roll down my cheeks, is “Everything does happen for reason… and it is all going to be Ok.”
Kyra is now free to dance, sing and run among the clouds. May she rest in peace, a beautiful angel and may she look out for her family and friends from above.
Among the sadness, there lies great happiness. Among the silence, there lies beautiful music. Among the confusion, there lies clarity. Among the anger, there lies peace. Among the clouds, there lies an angel.
“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” – Author Unknown
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