It has been a sad summer indeed, with so many people taken away from us at a young age. In the past few months, fellow classmates from Levack District High School, Bruce Thom (42) and JP Couvrette (41) were both taken away. In July we also lost my sister-in-law Lynn Bigras (42) at too young an age.
Earlier this week I stumbled upon this picture on my flickr account. It's a picture taken in 2004 at my book launch for One Hand Screaming at the Chapters in Sudbury. This was Thanksgiving weekend in October of 2004.
In the foreground are my sister-in-law Lynn and my nephew Chad. Chad would have been about 4 years old in this picture. My brother Don was on Manitoulin Island that weekend on a hunting trip and Lynn and Chad came out to see me, which was really special. It's always so neat to be a "fun uncle" and Chad has always brought me such delight in that way.
I paid particular attention to the proud and loving look on Lynn's face and the wonderfully excited smile on Chad's. Chad turned 10 this past Sunday. It's amazing how much he has grown. Yet when I see his smile even now, I'm reminded of the power his toddler's smile had on me, and the reflection of Lynn and Don in that smile. Every time I see his smile, I see that reflection of his parents' love.
While I did shed a tear after seeing this picture, it wasn't a tear of sadness. Sure, Lynn is missed tremendously and my heart aches particularly for my brother who has lost his soulmate and my nephew who lost his mother at such a tender age.
But the tear was, ultimately, a happy one.
Because this is a happy memory. A happy memory of a person who made a positive difference in my life and in so many other lives.
So yes, there is sadness.
But within that sadness there are strong and powerful memories. And there is love and hope -- love and hope reflected in the faces and in the children of these lost friends and family.
Lynn, Bruce and JP were taken away at too young an age. But they loved and were loved. And they were also loving parents, filling their children's lives with love and joy and wonder.
So while we can no longer greet, chat with nor spend time with these lost friends and loved ones, there is comfort in being able to catch a glimpse of their love and wonder in the smiles and eyes of their children.
And that is something that can never be taken away.