An/ni/ver/sa/ry: the date on which an event took place in a previous year.

As I near the first anniversary of the day we lost Colin and Madeline forever, I’m finding it so hard to be present in each day and moment as I constantly feel this pull into the fog of the past. My mind is clinging to my last weekend before our lives were meteorically impacted. It’s become like a movie playing over and over in my head. Each detail crisp and vivid. There wasn’t really much besides their deaths that would make those days stand out, but now those memories are extraordinarily precious. 

It was the second week into summer vacation and Colin was running basketball camps Monday to Friday. It usually took him a few weeks after school ended to really relax and get into holiday mode. And by Friday he was ready.

We had an exciting weekend ahead, and I remember worrying that it was going to be too busy. Colin BBQed hamburgers for supper that night and then we walked over to the midway. We took in the sights, the boys went on some rides, and we ate mini donuts and cotton candy. After the kids were in bed we snuggled on the couch and caught up on some PVRed television.

Saturday we had waffles for breakfast and headed back to Main Street for Madeline’s first parade. She thoroughly enjoyed the floats, the boys loved the candy, and we saw many familiar faces as we sat in the shade. We walked through the vendor market and children’s play area on the way home. And then spent the rest of the day playing in the backyard and swimming in the pool.

I ran two errands that afternoon; one to the grocery store to pick up some watermelon for Sunday; when I was there Colin texted me a picture of a recipe that he wanted to make for supper so I picked up all the ingredients that we didn’t have at home. The other was to visit the farmers market to order a matching headband and some sandals for Madeline’s outfit for my sisters upcoming wedding. Never imagining that they would instead turn into her funeral clothes.

The kids got to bed a little late that night, but quickly as they were exhausted from all the activity and sun. Once they were fast asleep and dreaming, I got to work preparing for the next day. We were heading to my parents place in Three Hills the next morning to see my family. My sister and her fiancé; my brother and his family from BC, including their brand new baby girl. Even my eldest brother’s family from Africa were there, only he was missing as he wasn’t due back in Canada for a few more days.

The very last text message that Colin ever sent me was from that night: “Come outside. Soooooooooo nice.” To be honest, I debated it for a moment. Thinking about all that I had to do before the next day, and how exhausted I was. Oh how grateful I am that I went downstairs and out the back door to the deck. Colin was sitting there with a glass of wine for each of us. And it truly was a ‘10-O’ so nice out there. We sat and drank our Merlot. We reminisced about the weekend, and imagined the summer ahead. He talked about his week at camp with the kids, and all his plans for the next year. We discussed our twelve year wedding anniversary coming up and our plans to do something extra special for our 15th. We laid out all the projects that we planned to do around the house, and promised to make sure to take time to do fun and spontaneous things with the kids.

Sunday morning, after breakfast, the kids all ended up playing together in the bonus room, Colin jumped in the shower and I went to finish packing. When he was clean he grabbed me and tried to convince me that since we would be missing our traditional Sunday afternoon “nap” we should make time for it before we left. I took a little convincing, as I was worried about the kids, and being late, and messing my hair. Having no idea that it would be the last time I’d ever make love to my husband. And then we all buckled up and drove off.

Most of you know the rest of the details, from personal accounts, news stories, or secondhand versions. And everyone knows how it ends. How that lazy Sunday drive turned into a sudden tragic nightmare.

Subconsciously, I wonder if I’m hoping that these memories will be cathartic and make things less painful. I know that isn’t possible. Though I can rationalize that no good can come from only focusing on the devastating loss; instead I need to relish in the joy-filled, love-soaked, memory-rich, and laughter-sprinkled weekend that we had. All the special moments that we enjoyed together before we were ripped apart.

How I wish that was the only anniversary that we had to celebrate.


16 thoughts on “An/ni/ver/sa/ry

  1. Leanne I have never met you, I’m a shirt tail relation to Colin, I so appreciate your openness and honesty. How you are able to share your struggles and your joys. A reminder to me to not take those moments for granted. I have two other close friends that have also suffered loss and I am amazed how they, like you, have been able to share their hearts aches and joys, but also how the Lord has carried them through. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post.


  2. Leanne,
    Your family’s story is so beautiful. You fell in love and spent an amazing long time with Colin. He loved you while heartedly. If there’s anything you need, know you have a large support group around you. Your baby and husband are looking at you with a smile on there faces because you are so strong.
    I was also wondering if there will be any public gathering this year for the one year passing.
    Take care. Stay strong. Your in my prayers.


    • Thank you so much for those kind words Amanda.
      I noticed your comment on the memories page and I was going to ask if there is any plans. If so, please let me know.
      I was thinking of coming out later in the evening just to leave some flowers at the school.


  3. 😢💔💗 it’s so hard to believe a whole year has gone by…like actually hard to believe. Colin and Madeline’s death shocked me into how uncertain life actually is…and my heart aches with pain knowing the pain and heart ache you have and will continue to endure. I love you Leanne. You are regularly in my prayers and will be for a long long time…Lord willing.


  4. Leanne, my struggles are different than yours, but I too have to decide each day to look at the good and choose to not dwell on the losses and the missed. But, I must confess, sometimes the losses overcome me and I mourn them with overflowing tears, as I am now, imagining your hurt and loss and uncertainty. Mourning is a season that does not happen once and then it is done; it comes in ebbs and flows. ONE of the Christian psychologists I saw told me that grief is like a river that sometimes sweeps you off your feet. He said that at those times, it is better to let it sweep over you until you can feel the bottom again and stand up. You can always climb back onto the shore and keep going, asking for help to climb back up if you need it, and keep going, or walk back to where you need to be. Keep this if it helps you, leave it if it doesn’t ♡♡♡


  5. Thank you for writing. What a lovely account. Honest and beautiful. Our family will be thinking of you all day tomorrow.
    Melissa McCrackin


  6. Leanne, I don’t know if you would remember me or not, but our families went to Kentwood Alliance together. I have been praying for you and thinking about you through this past year, and will continue to do so in the days to come. May God continue to hold you close and bless you richly in the days and years to come.


  7. There is a portion of my heart that is reserved for thoughts and prayers devoted to you, Emmett, and Benjamin. Your post is a blessing: a reminder to live in the present; to pray without ceasing; to love passionately; to parent humbly. ❤


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