This blog post was written in April but not made public. I have changed some it to reflect the now. I just could not make it public at the time.
Unless my readers have been in a complete bubble, you will know that our province, and country was rocked by the news in April that a semi truck and a bus containing a Junior A hockey team collided on a lonely rural corner. First on the scene were family members following the bus for the playoff game. Unprecedented calls out to three STARs helicopters soon followed. Soon rumours of fatalities and then multiple fatalities came through the Facebook feed and news channels. When all the news was in, fifteen passengers on that bus died in that accident and many more have critical and life changing injuries. Only a very few walked out of that bus. Our province, and country were stunned and in grief.
I don’t know how it feels to have PTSD, but I do know what flashbacks of memorable moments feel like – flashbacks of good days, and flashbacks of the most terrible days. There are days, and dates and times that one will never forget because they are days of our “worst nightmares.” That night was so many people’s “worst nightmare”. So I know that for some, that weekend will remain with them in great detail for all of their lives.
I have never been a first responder or EMS staff to first encounter any accident, nor have I been a part of a team tragedy big or small. I do, however, have some significant events in my life that have made that weekend one of flashbacks that help me to relate to those more closely involved.
I remember the feeling when the door rang one morning to have a police officer at the door to tell me that my dad was involved in a fatal rollover and the shock and grief as we travelled to identify his body and get his personal effects. I can’t forget turning away from the demolished car. I remember hearing of his accident on the news – over and over. But, that only gives me a small window into what happened that weekend. I have never heard the breaking news of a bus accident and known that my son or daughter was on that bus. I don’t know what it is like to be part of a huge news story and not know what part I was to play, or to sit at a community hall with others- waiting for news and knowing the odds were not good. My experience, though at the time, mind boggling, pales in comparison.
I remember the deep, deep grief of being a bereaved parent. I was humbled, through our involvement in Compassionate Friends to hear the sharing of many parents who have had children die – in surgery, in accidents, from cancer and SIDS. Children are not meant to die before their parents. But I do not know how it feels to be part of a national tragedy, your son’s death or son or daughter’s injury being one of many. Or how it feels to not even have your closest friends for support, for they are grieving as well. I don’t know how it feels to pray ” not my son” when that prayer answered means someone else’s son. I pray for those families.
I remember what it was like to receive the phone call that a kidney was available for my husband and knowing that in order for that to happen, a young life was taken. Unfortunately, this weekend, those who died at the scene would not have had the opportunity to make that decision – a gift of their organs. Those that could, perhaps have that wee small comfort that their decision made a difference for several people and families.
I remember the one time that the equivalent of a Code Orange was called at the hospital I worked at. We prepared. We feared. (no cell phones and information overload like today) and breathed a sigh of relief when it wasn’t as severe as what was anticipated. It still was a tragic highway accident where one person died. I remember as clear as if it were yesterday responding to a Code Blue of a child, or of a young person. Horrible moments lived through as a medical personnel stay with us forever. I can only imagine the setup, the chaos, the tears, and the despair as our hard working health professionals worked and volunteered to make sure of the very best outcome for these people. I know, that details of Friday night will burn in many people’s memories and many tears still will fall. But Friday night continues for many health care workers, nurses and doctors, as the continued fight for life and healing continues at Royal University hospital and perhaps at home.
So perhaps this is why the news of last Friday’s tragedy set me up for a lot of memories, some anxiety and tears. Perhaps these experiences give me a small glimpse into what it might have been like. I felt, I am sure like many, lost, angry and sad, as we listened to the news over and over. We sat glued.
But my sorrow, and my fear is so minor compared to hundreds preparing funerals and waiting at bedsides, flying in and continuing to save lives in the jobs that they love. There are parents, coaches, billet parents, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, classmates, neighbours, teammates and medical personnel that still need our thoughts and prayers. Not just quick thoughts or one prayer, but support for days, weeks and months to come.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Psalm 46 1-2