david unflinching

On June 2nd, 2008 we lost our 21 year old daughter Robin and our lives were completely and utterly shattered. I live in Wiarton Ontario, which is approximately 2½ hours north of Kitchener, and at that time there were very few bereavement support services in our area. I reached out to the Bereaved Families of Ontario and although their offices were quite a distance away, they still offered to support me and my family the best they could. Over the past few years I have had a chance to learn a great deal about this organization and because of that I am a strong supporter of the work they do. I always refer to them as the “gold standard” in bereavement support and I look forward to the day when there are more facilitators trained in Grey and Bruce Counties through BFO Midwestern Region.

My own grief journey has taught me many things over the past six years… that life is precious, unpredictable, we should savour the moments that we have with our loved ones and never underestimate the power of a stolen moment or a random opportunity to embrace all that life can gift to us.

The following is the true story of the first time I ever travelled outside of Ontario. I had never even flown on an airplane before and yet I was a chaperone on an amazing high school trip with Robin. A few years after this trip Robin was gone but I feel like she was preparing me somehow for this ultimate Goliath. I can remember it like it was yesterday…. chasing my daughter down the cobblestone streets of Florence. I was there as a chaperone for her high school trip to Italy, France and Spain. She had studied the Statue of David in her art class, and although the tour bus was going to be departing shortly, she figured out the address for the Accademia Gallery and was determined that she was going to see it before we left. I had no idea where I was going (my map was in Italian) but somehow I managed to keep up to her and a few of her friends who had gotten off to a running head start. I figured if I didn’t stay on their heels I would become hopelessly lost but luckily I was able to catch a glimpse of her long brown hair flying as she rounded each corner…. and then before I knew it, we were all standing, out of breath, but mesmerized by “David”.

We were only there for about 15 minutes, but it felt like time stood still. I could not take my eyes off of him because it looked like this exquisite, marble statue was actually breathing and I had this overwhelming sense that I was experiencing something very profound…something bigger than I knew. I am grateful for that stolen moment and my mind can go back to it easily, and it often does.

The look of steely determination in David’s eye changed something in me that day and that memory is now a touchstone for me. None of us get an exemption from the hard things in life…the loss of a job or a loved one, divorce, addictions, illness or accidents; these are things we often have no control over. But we do have control over how we face them and sometimes that can make all the difference in the world. It’s safe to say that we are not going to win every battle that comes our way but – win or lose – I believe we are given a measure of courage and strength for the next time we have to pick up our sling and stones. You have to fight a few lions and bears before you can take on Goliath. David looked me square in the eye and taught me that.