Remembering and honouring the Humboldt Broncos

The season is changing and life, as we know it, is moving on.

Spring, painfully slow in coming, is still coming.

We know that.

We know that green blades of grass will inevitably peek through the snow, dandelions, stubborn and defiant, will get out their paint brushes and laugh as they frolic and paint our lawns an embarrassing shade of yellow.

But what we don’t know is how and when our life will end. And we don’t know how and when the lives of the people we love and cherish and, because we are after all human, often take for granted, will end.

And so, on that fateful day when a bus carrying its precious cargo from Humboldt, Sasktachewan, and a truck, driven by a young male driver, crashed, fate, with absolute and horrific timing, took over.

And no one knew.

No one knew that, in an instant, those young lives would suddenly and abruptly, come to an end. And for them there would be no tomorrow, no second chances, no playoffs and no signed contracts with the big leagues.

No one knew.

The tragedy of the Humboldt Broncos has created a ripple affect across the nation, in fact, the world.

And, we Canadians, proud of our heritage of hockey that has resounded like slap shots against wooden boards and in backyard rinks throughout the years, have discovered we are not alone in our grieving.

Condolenses, tweets, and messages have poured in from dignitaries including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and even the Queen of England, herself, the world over.

The bus tragedy which claimed 16 young lives, lives so precariously perched on the edge of living, is so unimaginably horrific it seems to leave a common bond of great sadness in the collective heartbeat of people everywhere.

And it seems, even as we are drawn to the newscasts, watching the events unfold over and over again, we somehow harbour an unfounded hope for a different ending.

But, of course, there isn’t a different ending and, as the seasons change and the green leaves of summer eventually do come out of hiding, a mom and dad will hold each other and cry, a hockey stick will be quietly put away, another place at the table will stand empty and dreams for a bright young future will fade to the ashes of yesterday.

Rising from the ashes of the tragedy, it is most humbling, as a journalist, to stand on the sidelines and watch as the faces of grief show themselves.

It truly makes me grateful to live and work here, in good old rural Alberta, where people know about long bus trips and hockey and saying goodbye.

I covered a council meeting recently and Mayor Rick Pankiw read a poem entitled “In an Instant.’ And then we all stood for a moment of silence to remember the Broncos.

I’m glad we did that.

I picked up groceries the other day and all the store employees were dressed in hockey jerseys.

I was proud of them.

They say blood donations have spiked since the accident.

The funds raised through social media have been astronomical.

A colleague, Leah Bousfield, who has never played hockey wanted to borrow a hockey stick so she could put it on her front step.

And I thought to myself, ‘good for you,’

And so we do what we can. We mourn. We grieve. We donate. We remember.

None of what we do will bring those individuals back, and, no doubt, we have to comfort ourselves with the thought they will all be playing in The Big Leagues on a heavenly team with a lineup that we can only imagine.

But, those of us who live on need to remember we still have second chances to hug the people we cherish, and to tell them we love them.

Someone said to me the other day, “hearing about it, just made me want to go hug my kids.”

I hope he did. I’m sure he did.

I know I’m sure going to hug mine and tell them I love them.

Today and every day!

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