I don’t know what I thought God could do.
Throughout this past week I have swayed between needing to know information and not wanting to hear one more detail. I have cried. I have felt numb. I have been in disbelief. I have tried to imagine what these families, this community of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, and these survivors are going through. I have thought of the driver of the semi-truck that hit the bus. I have wondered about the families of the boys, the coaches, the reporter and the lone girl, Dayna. I wondered how they could possibly hold such grief.
I’ve tried to make sense of my own feelings; even that has seemed close to impossible. I surprised myself when I noticed that one of my feelings seemed to be guilt. Such an odd thought considering that I have nothing to feel guilty about. I, nor any member of my family was supposed to be on that bus. I did nothing to contribute to the accident. But my guilt stemmed from feeling like I had no right to take up space with my emotions when others were hurting so badly as to be unimaginable.
Eventually, I’ve concluded that my overriding feeling is one that I have seen displayed over and over again this past week. It is of course one of grief. But it is also one of great compassion. I know I stand with all Canadians, and with many others around the globe when I stand in my compassion; in my feeling of such sorrow combined with my feeling that I need to do something. And in my helplessness in not knowing what it is that needs doing.
In the midst of all of the sorrow and grief this week, I have also experienced a feeling of pride. I am so, so proud of the way that Canadians, as a collective, have responded to this tragedy.
The people involved in this horrific bus crash were all part of the Humboldt Bronco’s Hockey team. Most were players, several were coaches, one was a reporter. There was a statistician, a bus driver and a trainer. They were a team. They were on their way to a playoff game, something that thousands and thousands of hockey teams do yearly in this country. This perhaps is why we can all relate with such compassion. This was such a regular day, with regular people doing a regular activity, that had the accident not occurred, most of us would never even have had a hint that somewhere in Saskatchewan, a team of young men, with dyed blond hair and painted toenails were on the move, heading to an arena where they would play in a sport they loved and that has come to define us as a nation.
Such a regular activity, with such an unimaginable outcome.
In Canada, when ‘our’ team plays, whether it be the tiniest little boys and girls whose helmets tipped forward seem to propel them up the ice, or the ‘big boys’ and ‘big girls’, the famous ones, we don our jerseys, wear our team colours, warm up our voices and cheer them on. We are unabashedly proud to show our support and pride in whomever it is we like to call ‘our’ team. We get carried away in our cheering and we love to play the part of armchair coaches. We all love the sound of the tap, tap, tap of hockey sticks when they are used to cheer on ‘our’ team.
This past week, the Humboldt Broncos became Our Team. Every one of us is now identifying with them. Some of us are identifying with them because we play hockey, some because we have a son, some because we come from a small town, some because we are first responders, some because we are teachers, some because we have a sibling or friend or neighbour who is part of the game. We each have a reason to feel like we are part of Team Humboldt. I feel like while we may be wearing red and white, Canada’s colours, on the outside, on the inside there is nothing but green and gold. Every one of us is warming up our voices to cheer them on. Some of our voices will be quiet in conversation. Some will be strong in support. Some will be raised in prayer. Some will be unheard as the tears overtake us. Some will speak in remembrance. Some will speak in encouragement. Some will speak in grief. Some will speak in hope. Some will speak in disbelief. Some will be forced to speak in a professional capacity, as doctors, nurses, police and paramedics. All will speak in support and with compassion.
Last Saturday morning I sent a text to my friend Rhonda, telling her I was thinking about her. Her son, Jake, is a hockey player and I knew this would hit especially close in their home. Rhonda’s response summed up what I think Canadians are feeling. “We didn’t know anyone on that bus. But really we knew all of them.”
I’m still feeling lost. And numb. And overwhelmed. And full of grief and compassion. I still do not know what to do. I borrowed a hockey stick from my friend, Derek, because we no longer own any. Over the next few days as funerals happen and injured players are released from hospitals I hope we can each use our hockey sticks to tap our boys, and girl, home. For now, it’s on our front porch, in case the boys need it.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘How can I show compassion?’
Elizabeth is a life and leadership coach in Calgary, AB. She provides leadership coaching for individuals and groups and she creates and facilitates custom workshops for corporate, public and private groups. Elizabeth is a proud Canadian, and a fan of hockey, but more importantly she is a fan of anyone brave enough to be following their dreams.