I’m not a hockey mom. I’m not even a hockey fan. Although I live in a hockey town, I don’t need all my fingers to count the number of hockey games I have attended in my community.
Yet since last night when I heard that a tractor-trailer had T-boned the team bus of the Humboldt Broncos on its way to a playoff game in Nipawin, leaving 15 people dead and 14 others wounded in body and soul, I can think of nothing else. I haven’t read anything unrelated to the crash. I haven’t watched anything unrelated to the crash. I’ve checked Twitter repeatedly for updates.
Since then, I process in images:
· the fifty + passenger school bus I rode for twelve years to school, fifteen miles (in those days, miles not kilometres) from my home. Three students to a seat, mostly, overhead racks stuffed with lunch boxes, books, and school bags. Gravel roads, on the good days; snow and ice in the winter; clay gumbo for the mile or so off-road in a downpour to a farmhouse on the way to school. I can still feel the back end of the bus sliding across muck, and the entire vehicle tilt sideways on two wheels on the way into the ditch;
· my children’s faces as they boarded buses bound for Yorkton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Idaho, Spearfish, various ski resorts, for band festivals, school sports teams, or school excursions;
· the lists of names on the emergency contact information papers I carried with me as a teacher-supervisor on school trips in my analog teacher days;
· my hockey-player students bleary-eyed after an away game and a late (or early, depending on your viewpoint) return;
· debris strewn across a lonely interesection in northeast Saskatchewan.
"'The worst nightmare has happened,'" Bill Chow, president of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, said today.
I’m not part of the hockey family, and I don’t know the hockey culture. But I’m a parent. I know Saskatchewan. And I know buses. The heaviness in my heart will be there for a long time. I grieve with the city, the province, and the country. To the devastated families and friends of the deceased, the critically injured, and the survivors, I mourn with you even if I can’t fathom your pain. To the first-responders and the medical teams, thank you for your courage and your skill; take care as you process this tragedy.
My heart goes out to all whose lives this tragic event has forever altered.