Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Price We Pay; The Friends We Have

Living where I live, doing what I do, it's easy to forget that snowboarding is classified as an "extreme", and therefore dangerous sport. Thankfully, I have never had one of my close friends succumb to the power of Mother Nature at the price of their life. Many of my friends, however, have. Erin Solowey-Wanamaker passed on the hill last year, and such an outpouring of compassion I have never seen from those that are not blood related. A popular and well liked guy at 31, it was a shock when I found out; though I never met him, it seemed everyone I knew had, and were affected by him. But as tough as it is, it's almost to be expected in a town where the unofficial motto, in every aspect, is 'go big or go home.'
A year and a day after Solowey's death, another local, friend to many, lost her life. Sadly, she did not hit a line too intense, nor did she turn too late to avoid a tree; it was by her own hand. Suicide is always devastating to a community, but especially so here, where it seems the pursuit of happiness is the one true goal. Once again, I never met her but many of my friends within the hospitality industry knew and loved her. My friend Jana sums it up on the Whistler Blackcomb blogsite:
(our group of friends is) "one of the reasons it feels easier to be so far away from the home you grew up in and known so well. It’s amazing having a deep trust with people that understand your lifestyle and your passion for this place and share the same feelings with you. It is knowing that if you are having a bad day you can always let it off your chest with friends that you feel as deeply connected to as family. On the other side: having them to celebrate accomplishments and holidays with so you never feel alone here. Its having people to share this amazing life we have out here that truly makes this place special."

It is especially sad that it wasn't through skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, or anything similar, but by her feelings that we may never know.
There was a party that night in town that she and I both attended, and I certainly saw her (though never introduced myself). Nothing about her demeanour suggested anything was wrong. I wish someone could have noticed. I wished someone had asked if she was ok. To her (and I guess my) family, I can only hope that the pain and shock does not last forever.
Keep dreaming guys. Don't be afraid to tell the world about your fears.


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