This is not the column I was working on last weekend. By the time you get to be my age you have lost many family, friends and neighbours. It has become much too common. Common, yes, but not easier.
We have not yet come to terms with the loss of 11-year-old Abby Fleet. Did not know Abby personally but did know her mother and grandmother so that loss was way too close to home. From those who did know her she was a delightful little girl and I know she will be one of God’s treasured angels.
While still reeling from that loss came the news that God had called another of his treasured angels home, Dylan D’Hulster.
I met Dylan when Morgan started JK at St. Mary’s in Tillsonburg. They became friends. Like many friends they were buddies one day and feuding the next, but they were friends. Although they drifted apart as they grew older, Dylan always remained one of Morgan's best loved friends.
I remember Morgan’s fifth or sixth birthday. He invited three of his friends to celebrate with him. The grown ups on this adventure thought these four little boys would love to see airplanes so we headed to the War Plane Museum in Hamilton. What we forgot was how long a drive it was to Hamilton from Tillsonburg.
Anyway, off we headed. It wasn’t long before we started hearing, “Are we just about there?” or “How much longer?” Three were getting impatient but Dylan was quite satisfied to just be with his friends. Had to make a couple pit stops en route which scared the dickens out of us, but Dylan, who had endured more health issues than the rest of us put together, just went in and did his thing with the kind of nonchalance expected out of someone five times his age.
When we arrived at the airport excitement returned for the troupe. The boys were exuberant and climbed on all the airplanes they were allowed to and even on a couple they weren’t supposed to. They pushed all the buttons and turned all the cranks.
After a tour of the gift shop they each got to pick out a poster to take home. I had made up goody bags to give the boys after supper and cake but I decided I would give it to them so they had something to do on the long, long drive home.
I don’t remember what all was in the bags but I do remember Morgan taking great pains to pick out dinky cars. He changed his mind several times before finding just the perfect one for each. I learned a lesson that day. In order to avoid conflict it is best to give each boy the exact same dinky car.
That was one of my favourite memories of Dylan. Oh, I remember when he finally got to play hockey and how he played with the heart of a Tasmanian devil. I think, unlike most players, he knew what a gift it was to have the chance and so he played with everything he had.
His short life was not easy, but he lived it with a smile, an encouraging word, an inner strength that put most of us to shame. He genuinely cared about others, was always willing to help and he brightened the lives of all who knew him. He put his mark on this world and touched all our lives.
He made a difference and he will be missed by many.