There are two phrases I have heard over and over in the last several days.
“I can’t even imagine the pain of the Humboldt, Saskatchewan community” and “I had to stop watching and reading all the news stories about the crash.”
We all feel that way but also I can’t remember ever feeling quite so proud to be Canadian, either.
Everywhere I have been there were symbols of a country united. From the flags at half-staff at Barrie City Hall, to business signs around the city reading “Prayers for Humboldt” and “Humboldt Strong” to my bank tellers all wearing Hockey jerseys for a day to the incredible number of donations made to the GoFundMe campaign.
The lump in my throat just won’t go away. I know I am not alone.
It was such a Canadian story. Young people doing such a Canadian thing – playing hockey – the Broncos riding the team bus to the next game thinking about nothing more than the next goal. The bus was hit by a transport truck. Most of those on the bus were from the small town of Humboldt with a population of around 6,000 people. The victims were players, trainer, coaches, bus driver and broadcaster. Chances are everybody knew somebody.
So many things make this unbearable.
The age of most of the victims somehow makes it worse. It just always seems more tragic when a victim has his or her whole life ahead.
There was the unfortunate mistake in the identification of two players. My friend, who happens to be from Saskatchewan, was telling me that usually on a long bus ride, the players wear travel clothes and keep their suits hung up to put on upon arrival. He surmised that the players’ identifications were likely in their sports coat pockets and that could be why it was hard to figure out who was who – that, and the fact the team all had dyed their hair blonde with similar cuts.
I don’t know that the national outpouring of support helps those affected, but I hope it does. I hope it helps that their loved ones were doing something they loved. Maybe there is some comfort in the fact they did not die alone?
The story stopped so many of us in our tracks and made us think about how fragile life is.
It reminded me of the importance of signing an organ donor card and giving regular blood donations.
It reminded me of how small the world really is. It reminded me that we are a good and kind country. It reminded me that we are part of one large Canadian family. A wonderful hockey loving, coffee drinking, apology giving family.
The headlines will fade. Hockey games will continue to be played. Time will move on, but I don’t think anyone will soon forget.
I was reminded of the time the former U.S. President Barack Obama said, “The world needs more Canada.”
Forever, I hope to remember the sight of those hockey sticks leaning up against the house in the shimmer of the porchlight.
Well done, Canada.