My comments will follow at the end of this post.  I think you will understand why when you read it.

What changed that made you realize you were living a life of fear?

I think I have lived in fear all my life. It’s how I was wired. I was afraid of being alone, grew up with a sense of abandonment and I was afraid of not measuring up. I came to Canada when I was 7 years old and I can’t say it was easy fitting in. I experienced racism, bullying and just general meanness but its all those experiences that prepared me for what would be my biggest challenge in life. I became resilient and let me tell you that resiliency is the one quality I have that I am most thankful for.


Its resiliency that gets you through the dark days and allows you to see that tomorrow will be ok. It makes you see that you are stronger than you realize and that you have the ability to take difficult journeys and come out the other side. I thank my mom for that…I didn’t appreciate it at the time but mom was preparing me for what was to come.


August 7, 2014 is a day I will never forget. It was a beautiful summer day and the same time that I was having a coffee with a friend and discussing my “new life” my beautiful daughter had just been hit by a truck and died. There were no signs, no lead up to it, no chance to save her. She died instantly and that’s when I was faced with my greatest fear. Losing the one thing in my life that I knew was perfect. Alexandra was a very special girl. She had a heart of gold and desperately wanted to help change the world. What she did in her 19 years some will never do in a life time. My entire world changed that day and I realized my biggest fear…not being able to protect my child. I wanted her to never feel pain, I wanted her to always feel secure and I wanted her to feel loved.


Once you did take the leap, what did you have to let go of?

I’m what I like to call a work in progress. I can’t say I have let go of my fear of not being able to protect Alex. I ache for her and I replay that day in my mind constantly and wonder what I could have done different to protect her. Now I have a new fear, that I won’t see her again.

I also have a fear of what my life without her means. I don’t want to be alone, I will never know what it feels like to have grandchildren, I will never see my daughter graduate or get married and I will die without having her by my side. That is scary for me. I’m not sure you can really let go of all fears. I think we grow with our experiences and some of the fears get replaced by new fears.


Is there anything else you would like to share with people on the blog?

What would I like to share with people? I have learned this past year that people fall into three categories; those who do exactly as you expected them to do, those who surprise you by doing things you didn’t expect and sadly those who disappoint you. Give thanks to the ones who you can count on and hold the ones who surprised you close to your heart and let go of the ones who disappoint you.
I am trying to live my life by giving tribute to my daughter and making her proud of her “mama” as she liked to call me. I am strong because I need to be strong. Each day is a struggle but I know that I have an example to set for Alex and for her friends. I also know that loving someone is a privilege that not everyone gets so when you get the chance hold on to tight. Today is a given, tomorrow is a gift.



Anita here.

I have known Pat for almost 18 years.  But until this month, we had never had a real conversation.

I had recently seen Pat and we talked for three hours in a McDonald’s.  Seriously.  Totally lost track of time.  Then I had a cancellation in #leapfear and somehow, I felt that there was a reason for it.  I really felt that Pat was meant to be a part of this project.  My Mom would laugh at me because she felt I was a little too pragmatic for my own good.  Funny how I am becoming more woo woo as I get older.

But I really felt that this was meant to be. You will see why.

After we had talked at McDonald’s, Pat sent to me a photo of Alex’s vision/memory board.  Oddly, it had almost no photos on it.  But one of them was of her daughter and mine when they were around 7.  Hannah and Alex had know each other since they were 3 years old.  Oddly enough, they were never close friends but grew to be almost like colleagues.  They were both very involved in social justice issues and often found themselves collaborating on projects together.  They had the utmost respect for each other and worked so well together.

But why was Hannah’s photo on that board?  None of us know.  Pat, Hannah and I don’t know.

But maybe it was there to bring Pat and me together into each other’s lives.  I like to think that maybe that is one of the reasons.

So I contacted Pat and told her that I thought she was supposed to be a part of this project. I was scared to ask, scared to let her down, scared to know the response.

But I think I did what I was supposed to do.  I feel like I have found a new friend.  I feel like maybe I have been a small part in a healing journey that will last all of Pat’s life.  I feel like I am a witness to something extraordinary.

I posted more photos than usual in this post because we went through the whole range of emotions in the session.  There are images that are so profoundly sad that my heart aches whenever I look at them.  But there are other images where I see Pat as a fighter, some where she is playful, some where I see peace.

The first photo was a close up of the cross that Alex used to wear and that Pat now wears.

The teddy bear was one of Alex’s favourites.  The fur is worn off in places where she used to stroke it at night.  When Pat held the bear, I felt like I was intruding on something profound.  I hesitated and asked Pat if it was okay for my to photograph her.  She said she totally wanted me to.  I captured such a range of emotions in that series. It makes my heart simultaneously ache and soar with hope for Pat.

The Water Walk book is a momento of a walk that Pat helped to organize with World Vision last year in honour of Alex.  It was an amazing event that simultaneously honoured Alex’s memory, raised awareness about an issue that Alex was passionate about and raised money for a cause close to her heart.

The Maple Leaf sweater was in honour of Alex.  She was a big fan.  No one is perfect ;)

Alex was a t-shirt girl.  The t-shirts in these images are all Alex’s.  Pat has a favourite photo of Alex wearing the Coca Cola t-shirt so that is why we took those photos.