Call it coincidence or a statistical blip. Call it what you will.
When a series of tragedies strike close to home, the effect can be a shock wave – particularly in such a close-knit community as the Semiahmoo Peninsula.
Over the last week-and-a-half, five people perished in three different incidents across B.C.
Their loss was keenly felt here, because each either grew up and attended school on the Peninsula or had very close ties to this area. For many who learned the sad news of their passing, these were friends, or friends of friends. People they’d worked with, seen around. People they’d nodded to, or with whom they’d shared a laugh or a smile.
They were all of the same generation – in the mid 20s to the early 30s.
In each case, for those who are left behind, the feeling of waste is inescapable. These were not people, after all, who had reached the twilights of long lives, or even those who, while facing a grim diagnosis, had time to come to terms with the fact that their days were numbered.
These were people who seemed to have the greater part of their lives, their goals and accomplishments, ahead of them.
These kind of tragedies inevitably lead us to muse on the fragility and impermanence of life; the idea that people we can sometimes take for granted in our lives can be here one minute and gone the next.
Are there lessons to be drawn from the manner of their passing?
Two died in the crash of a light aircraft near Kelowna; another perished in a cliff dive north of Pemberton. Adventurous pursuits, some would say, statistically speaking. But what can we say of the remaining two, who died in a head-on collision, travelling roads that many of us travel regularly without ever acknowledging the risk?
The fact is that life, itself, is a risk – and no one knows for sure which day will be their last.
There is one generalization that fits all of the five we now mourn. Each, in his or her own way, lived life to the fullest. Each of them is remembered for a spirit that embraced life, love and the sheer joy of existence. They didn’t sell themselves short, didn’t shy away or hide from the blessings and misfortunes that life can bring.
At the end of the day, at the end of all-too-brief lives, friends and family remember them as happy.
And that’s something we can all hold onto.