Humboldt Broncos #HockeyMom

From the moment I heard of the bus crash, I’ve obsessively read everything I can about the Humboldt Broncos as if feeling everything I can feel and knowing everything I can know will somehow make a difference.

It’s not helping.

My blogger friend Jennifer at Simple Local Life, wrote a fabulous post about what you can do to help…one that’s ACTUALLY helpful. Me, I tear up with each thing I read…each time I try to write…every moment I see a parent speaking about their son, each girlfriend saying her final goodbye, every thought and prayer.

I’ve been crying for days.

“I love you” was all I could send to my son as I lay in bed on Saturday morning reading my twitter feed. He replied with “I’m pretty shook about the crash in the Prairies…it’s just like us…on the way to a playoff game…feels close to home.”

While there’s a few days left before he returns from his semester at university, all I want to do is wrap my arms around him and tell him that everything’s going to be ok…but just in wanting to hold my kid a little closer, a wave of guilt crushes through me for the mom’s who can’t.

I recall the first time he got on a team bus to head to a tournament. He was excited. I was anxious. The weather was lousy and I couldn’t help but shudder at the thought of something going wrong.

He texted when he arrived to let me know he was there and here we are, so many years later while he’s playing Junior in Newfoundland and I’m a thousand miles away in Nova Scotia…and he still texts to let me know when he’s safe back home.

Yesterday, I stood in his room. I glanced at the team photos from the early years through high school…framed on the wall and hung with pride. There’s a life-sized Sydney Crosby poster on the back of his door, a game calendar pinned next to his bed, sticks in the corner, a jersey hung on the wall, trophies filling his desk and medals hung from the back of his chair.

As I stood there, hockey memories engulfed me along with an overpowering knowledge that there are rooms just like this…that will forever be empty.

I know these boys that died. Having never met them…not knowing their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings or friends…not playing against them, not having any connection whatsoever in any way shape or form and yet…I still know them. I’ve heard them giggling in my basement while I’ve ordered more pizza astonished by the amount they can eat. I’ve seen the mischievous look on their faces just as they chirped a player from the opposing team. I’ve heard their voices through my TV as they remotely play their video games while I’m cooking dinner…the laughter and camaraderie evident from the teasing and nicknames they have for one another. I’ve looked for missing dress shoes in hotel rooms lost amid the chip wrappers snuck from the vending machine when the coach wasn’t looking. I’ve fundraised for them, sat in diners with them, bought vehicles with trunks big enough to carry gear for them. I’ve cheered loudly for each and every one of them, high-fived their goals and laughed at their ridiculous “cellies.”

I know the one with the smile that lights up the room, the quiet one who leads by example, the studious one with plans to make a difference in the lives of others, the one who puts in extra hours at the gym and the one who knows every fact about every game ever played…I know the well-dressed one who’s not afraid to wear a bow-tie to the rink and the one who leaves everything he has on the ice every single practice and game even if he’s not the very best player on the team…I know the one who knows exactly what to say to get “his” boys to give it their all when the chips are down. I know these boys. I’ve seen their tears. I’ve been there through the joys of winning and the disappointments of losing. I’ve seen their heads held high and I’ve watched their shoulders drop…I’ve patted them on the back and from time to time, I’ve given them the hug they needed at the exact moment they needed it.

Having never met them…I’ve met others just like them with the same hopes and dreams, the same determination, passion, grit, kindness, strength, focus and resilience.

For the last fifteen years I’ve been this Hockey Mom…witnessing young boys turn into remarkable men. It has been my greatest privilege to be part of their lives. I’ve loved this game, because they made it so.

I placed my son’s stick outside.

I contributed to the fundraiser for Humboldt.

I signed my organ donor card.

I attended the live vigil and, like the team pastor, I wondered where exactly was God when tragedy struck.

I’ve prayed.

I’ve read everything I can get my hands on so I can try to comprehend exactly what’s happened and no matter how hard I try…all I can do is cry.

I knew your son.

And I’m so very sorry for your loss.

38 Replies to “Humboldt Broncos #HockeyMom”

  1. I feel exactly the same way and done the same as you followed everything can’t wait for my son to get home at the end of the month from university following part of his dream playing hockey and going to school – I made sure he texted me before they left and when they arrived on road trips especially when he played junior A in northern Ontario
    My heart hurts for each and every person that is connected to that team and cry a lot for them as I couldn’t even imagine what any other then are going through

    • It’s just too big to comprehend. I hope that in the coming days, they find a little peace in all of this tragedy. Give your boy an extra squeeze when he gets home.

  2. I keep reading everything as well and it’s so hard not to think about everyone involved. The whole thing is so difficult to process.
    We took a bus to Montreal over the March Break for a tournament. It’s hard to imagine but that could easily have been us.
    Your post is so moving. Keep writing, you have a gift!

    • I think that’s the thing…we can all relate. It’s hard to think about how it could happen.

  3. You have expressed what we are all experiencing perfectly. I am still crying this am listening to the paramedic speak of the on the scene aspects. What she said about people bringing blankets to cover the deceased & to help the survivors …. Made me realize everyone in Canada has a hockey blanket for the rink in their car and how those much loved and needed blankets served a sacred purpose. They respectfully covered with love the dead like a Canadian flag for a soldier coming home who’s passed.
    We are all parents and would want someone to be there in that darkest moments for our child. God bless the first responders and the citizens on site. No words.

    • I’ve been thinking of the first responders a lot as well. My friend, Janice Landry, has written a few books about First Responders that truly opens your eyes to the trauma they live with and work through their entire lives. Thank goodness for them…for showing such compassion and kindness on the front lines.

  4. I guess that’s part of it…is that so many of us can put ourselves in the shoes of others and even imagining how it could happen to any of us…is difficult to comprehend. Knowing it’s happened to so many…all at once in such a horrible way…there are no words.

  5. So tragic, 3 Grandsons in Hockey, oldest one going into Major Midget, has traveled on the buses, really hit home, can’t imagine the devastation for these families. I have to believe they have formed their new team with the Heavenly Angels, the sticks are outside in case they need one. Go Broncos go. God be with you all.

  6. Beautifully written Colleen and so perfectly true of all hockey moms. The level of relief I used to get receiving the text that said, “made it, all good”, was overwhelming. There really are no words to describe the level of sadness I feel for those young men who were lost as well as the survivors who face not only the physical but the emotional journey back to health. Loving words and a loving heart is all I can offer. Thank you for articulating my thoughts and feelings and taking me right back to my seat in the hockey arena wrapped in my favourite blanket❤️❤️

    • “Loving words and a loving heart” is the very best thing any of us can offer to anyone. More of that will make this world a stronger and lovelier place to be. xo

  7. I feel the same way. This hits so close to home. I can not get these boys and families out of my head. You put just how I am feeling perfectly into words. Love you, xoxo

  8. Well done, as others have said, you did a wonderful job of capturing what so many of us are feeling and struggling with. This is why this horrible collision has affected people across Canada-maybe it isn’t hockey but so many of us can relate to putting our kids on a bus to go somewhere and never thinking they won’t come back to us. May we all find healing from this at some point even though the pain seems so great right now.

  9. Oh Colleen…I think all the hockey mom’s…dads…families…are all struggling. I’ve been the same. Watching and reading everything…and crying. It’s just been devastating. xo

  10. Thank you for this Colleen. Unlike you, I have barely been able to get through a single article or newscast about this tragedy. It is just too close. But, like you, I know without a doubt that those boys are OUR boys. And I also can’t wait to hug my hockey boy when he returns from NL this week.

    • It certainly feels close. I’m on the countdown…Noah arrives home Friday. He’s never had a hug before like the one that’s coming for him!!!

  11. Thank you for putting into words exactly how I /we feel ! Sometimes it’s hard to know why such a tragedy impacts us so deeply even though we don’t know the people personally.
    But your 100%right .We are all connected .And have met them all along the way in our own hockey family journeys.
    Thank you so much

    • It felt very strange to me that it was impacting me so much. I’ve had so many people reach out since I wrote this…all with the same feelings…it’s nice to know we aren’t alone and the way we’re feeling is “normal”.

  12. Speechless! I am a hockey/ baseball mom and a hockey billet mom. My hockey billet boys had arrived home from 16 hour road trip only 2 hours before this tragedy. My own twin boys are away from home following their baseball dreams. Unbelievable! 💔

    • I’m always impressed by billet moms!!! How wonderful that parents can rely on amazing moms to take care of their boys when they’re on the road. It’s a blessing!

  13. The very first post I read from you was about hockey and I cried reading it and this one was no different. You speak for so many hockey moms and say the perfect words . I tried not to read anything about the crash for the first couple days because I was afraid I would have a breakdown but like you once I started I couldn’t stop reading, and the tears wouldn’t stop falling. Neither of my boys have been on a bus for a tournament yet but we have travelled and it hits so close to home and I can’t even fathom what they are going through….

    • Yes…both Hockey Mom posts, though incredibly different, have reached a lot of readers. There’s just something about hockey moms it seems! Thank you so much for reading. I can’t fathom what they’re going through either.

  14. Wow. Now I’m crying. I spent that weekend crying too. Knowing my daughter would someday be on busses just like that, going somewhere. Watching her play basketball right then was emotional and I was glad to be the one driving her. I don’t know those boys like you do, but it sure hit close to home for me too.

  15. These words are exactly how I feel at the devasting loss – knowing it could have been any of our hockey boys on that bus. My heart still aches for the families trying to make sense of this tragedy. Heaven has gained beautiful angels – and they will make a grand team. Sticks are out boys!