For me, the best way to work through my thoughts and feelings is often by writing about them.
And so, here I am, one week since I first heard a brief mention of the word “Broncos” on a Toronto Blue Jays telecast. I wasn’t sure exactly what was said, but in no time, I found out exactly what was meant. And for all these days since, I have been working through a range of emotions in relation to the horrible bus crash in my home province of Saskatchewan.
I have no direct connection to any of the people on that bus, to the Humboldt Broncos, the town of Humboldt, the SJHL or even that area of Saskatchewan.
But like so many of us, I still feel connected, in so many ways. I have cried every day since, reading or watching a news item or video. Seeing the tributes as far ranging as Hockey Night in Canada (expected) to the lights at Niagara Falls (wow); from flags at half mast (expected) to jersey day (that’s a great idea) to setting your sticks on the porch which started with the hashtag #PutYourSticksOut (WOW). The money raised is already a staggering amount.
There has been an outpouring of support from around the world. Social media can be a negative influence. But there have been times in this instance that it has been positive, by spreading the news, and the accompanying support, far and wide.
We have done our own small tributes at home, in our own small way honouring the many so deeply affected by this tragedy.
But I have also been deeply affected by this. I coached hockey for many years, and rode the bus with my son and my adopted kids – young boys and often girls – each winter. We sometimes cancelled trips due to weather, but more often than not, we piled on the bus and the driver got us where we needed to go. We also rode in cars to practices, often on cold, desolate highways. We sent the boys on school buses to football. Those of us with children have sent them to many activities, whether a sporting activity, or an artistic activity, or a school field trip, or the trip to and from school!
The magnitude of the crash is staggering. One cannot imagine what the children and adults on the bus experienced, what the driver of the semi is dealing with, what the first responders saw and will live with forever, what the survivors and parents will experience in the years to come. And so it touches all of us.
My heart wrenches when I see those boys and their families. It seems so wrong.
But from the difficult stories come ones of hope and love. Celebrities from the hockey world and elsewhere, providing support and even visiting the survivors in hospital. The miraculous young man who was able to walk away from the crash. The devastation of a broken back that inspires an Olympic sledge hockey dream. Parents grieving together and supporting each other and the survivors.
From so much pain and darkness there can be love and light. As I work through a little bit of my own grief for those lost, this is the lesson that I have learned. Yes, we need to cherish every moment. Yes, we need to slow down in our lives, to enjoy those around us. Yes, it will be a dark road ahead for all of those directly impacted and those grieving deeply for lost loved ones.
But out of that darkness, look for the light. It’s there, shining in green and gold. Let’s keep it burning for those left behind. #HumboldtStrong