My Online Scrapbook

My scrapbook was precious to me during those difficult years as a young teen. I loved getting lost in my world of magazine messages, poems or quotes that seemed meaningful and true. They were about love, friendship, gratitude, happiness, peace, karma, serendipity. Authors unknown, but words that resonated with me.

Repairing Rainbows has opened doors for many who now send me messages that are meaningful, comforting and beautiful. Authors unknown, but words that resonate with me.

And so, here I begin to share these messages and opinions in the form of an online scrapbook, a journal, a diary worth sharing  . . .

Dear Lynda,

Thank you for your fine book, Repairing Rainbows.  It is an incredibly personal story that I feel privileged to have read, and I can’t believe you have managed to write it.

I am very sorry for the loss of your family that occurred on July 5th, 1970.  Your life surely became a nightmare on that day, and in many ways it must continue as such, and the fact that somehow you have managed not only to survive the tragedy in such a positive fashion but furthermore write a book about it is extraordinary and inspiring.

But you haven’t just written any book, as difficult as that is: Repairing Rainbows is about as perfect and artistic an expression of its difficult events as one could imagine.  The structure of the book kept me wanting to keep reading, and the concluding pages giving details of the séances were shocking and amazing, providing a much needed feeling of resolution.  The literary style itself — the individual sentences — are also excellently executed, and it’s hard to imagine being able to improve it.  It’s especially impressive too that the book was ‘self-published’, as the design and printing is utterly professional. I can imagine that the main reason that your book didn’t appear under a traditional publisher is that they would have requested changes that would have greatly undermined the impact of your story, and so I admire your bravery in wanting to see an accurate and forceful presentation of events.

I hesitate to comment directly about the events in the book as I don’t wish to give offence.  On the other hand, by putting the book ‘out there,’ it invites thought and dialogue, so I will take my chances and say only a couple of things, hoping you will appreciate my good intentions.

I work in a building on Derry Road (the north perimeter of the airport), where planes fly closely, loudly, and frequently.  I used to have nightmares about planes crashing and me running trying to help.  I bet many people who work so close to the landing strips have such dreams, although I don’t believe I’ve had them for a while.  I’ve always been bothered by what happened to the victims of Air Canada flight 621, especially hearing in recent years about the items being recovered in the Brampton field.  There are obviously many, many tragic stories connected to the flight, most of which we will never hear, making it all the more precious and valuable that you have taken the time end effort to convey the effect of this tragedy on your family.  It is indeed a part of Canadian history that should be heard and preserved, and your book is a wonderful achievement in addressing the long, dark silence that followed the crash for so many innocent people.

I was greatly troubled to learn of the callousness of Air Canada toward you, including the front-line, officious individuals over the years who have been unable to waive some of those nuisance charges for you (but who surely do it for other people at their discretion).  The biggest companies are often the worst at handling these sorts of things, aren’t they?  I used to think perhaps such issues were resolved more pleasantly in the days before computers, but your book has proven me wrong about that.

I identified with your early remark that, when looking at a successful person, it is tempting to suppose that things have been easy for that person (hence the success), when in fact it is often entirely the opposite.  Your wise remarks (learned from your grandmother, who sounds a lot like my mother) about men and their second wives are also dead-on accurate; one sees this all the time, and indeed it has occurred among my own family.  As a man myself, with a young child, I always try to bear it in mind and to remind myself that my son will always have to be “Number One” (as your Dad had called you) and to be on guard of efforts from others to change that (though of course I pray that I will never have to face such a situation and be tested).  I wish your Dad could have handled it better, but as you recognized so well, he was tragically broken by the accident.  It is hard to blame him entirely.

Your dad’s new wife should have been more thoughtful (you were only 13 and needed protection), but apparently she was incapable as a person.  No doubt her life has a sad story of its own, and like all of us at some point she will have to face the consequences of her actions and inactions.  It is surely right to avoid such negative people as much as possible, as little good can come of them.

Perhaps I feel most connected to you and your book because the tragedy occurred in the same general time and place as one in my family, namely the death of my older brother due to illness.

Sometimes I have wondered if he watches over me; it seems crazy, but now your book makes me wonder.  I think also I have felt psychologically detached from reality, and I wondered if it might be connected to this loss I faced as a child.  As a social worker you would surely know more about this.  Perhaps it’s a standard response to grief, but I must say that my general feeling of psychological disconnectedness continues to this day.  I would guess that you don’t feel this yourself, because your book reveals that you have quite vivid recall about childhood events, which I do not (yet?).

Repairing Rainbows also speaks strongly to me because despite the loss I faced when very young (which is not comparable to yours; I’m not trying to compare them), and despite my feeling of disconnectedness, and despite the damage that was done within our family (people don’t always come together as one might think or hope, do they?), I have more or less managed to look on the bright side of things.  I don’t deny that I can tend toward a state of depression given the right conditions, but otherwise I would say that I am able to rationally appreciate the good things that life has brought, as you also remarkably seem able to do.  I wonder if children or teenagers sometimes may be better able to cope with such tragedies than adults (not as a rule, but perhaps as a statistical tendency).

Like you, 9/11 left me in shock for weeks.  As a student in Boston, I often flew out of that airport (from which the attacks were launched) and was well familiar with the lax security there.  I was fortunate in apparently not directly knowing anyone killed on that day, although I did have friend-of-friend connections.

Ms. Fishman, there is no need for you to reply at length to my message, as I know you must be very busy, and there are people writing you with more urgent and interesting matters.  I merely wanted to show that your book has provoked both thought and pleasure, something difficult to do, and so I thank you.  I gave my copy of your book to my mother, and she too found the same contentment in it, no doubt recognizing in your book the same characters and motives that she has seen so plentifully in her life.

Thank you again.

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Choices

For the first time since my mother’s and sisters’ deaths, I am sharing my personal journey from calamity to triumph, with the publication of Repairing Rainbows: A True Life Story of Family, Tragedy and Choices.

Repairing Rainbows reveals my positive and determined view of life. It is not a depressing book about tragedy and loss. It is moving and heartbreaking, yet uplifting and hopeful at the same time. It is a story about love, strength and appreciation. It is a story about courage and hope. It is a story about choices.

We always have choices. We choose where to live, what newspapers to read, and what clothes to wear. We choose restaurants, partners, stores, paint colours, friends, gifts, toothpaste flavours. We choose activities, careers and hobbies.

And we get to choose our thoughts.

We have an array of options at our fingertips, when it comes to our reactions, views and perspectives.

We can focus on the good or the bad, the gloom of rainy weather or the delightful fact that it’s feeding our flowers, grass and trees. We can complain about the storm or anticipate the rainbows. We can find traffic frustrating, or be thankful for the fact that we are lucky enough to live in a country with modern transportation. Standing in a long line in the grocery store can be annoying, or an opportunity to people-watch, or be friendly and chat with strangers in line. You can let an interfering mother-in-law’s comments get under your skin, or be grateful for the fact that there is a mother-in-law at all. Walking into a mess made by the kids can easily trigger anger, or the realization that they were having fun, and then further gratitude for having kids at all.

. . . the list can go on and on.

We always have choices.

We can choose HOW to look at any situation, no matter what it is. We can choose thoughts that are inspiring and empowering. We can think about ways to persevere and overcome, or we can become victims. We can think about our life as a gift, or we can view it as a punishment. We can go through life with determination and zest, or drag ourselves through every day as if we are tied to a ball and chain.

I choose to look at life through rose-colored glasses. For me, that means I choose to take a favourable view, even if I have to grasp at straws to find a glimmer of positivity. I will find a way to focus on the positives, look at the bright side, expect the best, and somehow remain optimistic.

I choose hope instead of despair.

I choose acceptance as opposed to judgment or rejection.

Forgiveness feels much better than holding a grudge.

Recognizing opportunities to learn and grow outweighs the burden of guilt and regret.

Truth and honesty are way easier than lies.

I choose gratitude and appreciation rather than greed and jealousy.

I choose happiness for others, instead of envy.

I much prefer being upbeat and joyful, compared to down and miserable.

I choose to smile.

I choose to laugh.

I choose to live.

Looking back and reflecting on that time as a thirteen year old, when my whole life came to a disastrous halt, I now understand and fully believe in the power of choosing our thoughts. After losing my mother and two little sisters in a plane crash, I was able to move forward, taking baby steps, because I chose hope. I refused to give up. I replaced fear and panic with hope and dreams. I never let go of my trust and faith in the future. I found positive things to focus on. I avoided miserable people. I admired the colours of flowers, trees, birds and rainbows.

I really listened to songs, finding words and messages that were happy and meaningful. I watched movies with happy endings, and read feel-good books.

I spent time around animals noticing their joy and appreciation for everything – a walk in the park, the chance to play, a bowl of kibble.

I don’t live in a dream world. I am not naïve. I’ve enjoyed tremendous personal and professional success. The life lessons I share come from well earned experience. And I do live by the words in Carole King’s song, Beautiful:

You’ve got to get up every morning, with a smile on your face
And show the world, all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You’re gonna find, yes you will
That you’re beautiful as you feel

There’s no template to follow that will determine the course of any tragedy and its effects. But the toughest decision people have to make when faced with tragedy is whether to succumb to or overcome the sorrow. It’s a choice about whether or not to respond to a crisis with hope. You always have that choice. You can give up or you can go on.

I chose to go on. I chose life.

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Finally

Air Canada Flight 621 crashed on July 5, 1970 killing all 109 people on board. The cause: Pilot error

Though the Air Canada crash that shaped my life and that of so many others took place exactly forty years ago, the pain is still raw.

My voice continues to tremble when I talk about losing my mother and two little sisters in this tragic Air Canada plane crash. Faced with a tragedy of this magnitude at the tender age of 13, teetering between childhood and adolescence, it’s nothing short of a miracle that I am where I am today. There were no grief counsellors, no crisis intervention, no professionals whatsoever, to help any of the family members and friends who were shattered and wounded and frail.

I did it myself. I made the right choices. I readily accepted the love and support from relatives and friends, I stayed excessively busy and distracted, I searched for positivity, and I grasped onto hope. Yet still close to the surface … that broken little girl inside the woman has not been buried deep but continues to be a vital part of who I am.

Sunday’s private event has been sponsored and organized by the new landowners of the fields where the crash occurred. Our gratitude is endless to the landowners for having the sensitivity and generosity for taking full financial responsibility for the memorial event and future memorial garden.

This emotional memorial event will not dampen the pain. Rather, the event will give even sharper focus to the collective grief for all of us who lost loved ones in the Air Canada crash, caused by pilot error.

Sorry, he said – then 109 on jet died – Montreal Star

Pilot tried to correct error; it was too late Montreal Gazette

Split-second ‘spoiler’ mistake caused air crash – Montreal Star

‘Huge error’ charged – Montreal Gazette

The Memorial event will serve to honour the memories of those who perished in the Air Canada disaster. Finally.

Prior to my knowledge of or involvement in the planning of the memorial, I was told that Air Canada blatantly refused to help with the clean-up of the debris and bones still evident at the crash site. Furthermore, they declined any interest or involvement in the memorial garden at the actual crash site. The actual burial site. This is disappointingly consistent with Air Canada’s historical approach to this tragedy – callousness and complete neglect. Keeping in character, and having done only what they were legally required to do, they have stayed away. Need they be reminded that 109 people died because of their pilot error? Our lives were never the same. The tragedy has affected the children and grandchildren of the victims. The effects continue to trickle like a leaky faucet – drip drop, drip drop. Upsetting, annoying, deafening.

Surprisingly, or maybe not, we heard only last week that an executive from Air Canada was asking for permission from the families and the landowners to attend this private memorial on Sunday, July 4th. After speaking with my immediate and extended family as well as with several family members of other victims, it was confirmed that there is a high level of discomfort regarding Air Canada’s sudden interest in the memorial. They just don’t seem to get it –  part of the tragedy for me and other family members has been Air Canada’s heartlessness and insensitivity for 40 years. None of the surviving family members are in any mood to experience any of that at the memorial. In fact, Air Canada may feel it met its responsibilities – but as far as the families are concerned, it didn’t. Far from it. And now, a public relations spin on Air Canada’s part, is the last thing any of us want a part of.

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Gratitude

Whether someone is just doing their job, volunteering or exceeding expectations, gratitude goes such a long way. Genuine, intangible, heartfelt gratitude and appreciation. It is the most powerful form of recognition that anyone can provide. And it’s incredibly wonderful to be on the receiving end. The positive energy, aka positive vibes, are so strong it is sometimes possible to see the physical effects. It ignites others. And most of all, it feels great for everyone involved.

This morning I had the privilege of spending time with a very good friend, Jeff Ansell, who does communication and media training. Jeff knows that every time I talk about the tragic death of my mother and sisters, I have trouble controlling my tears. In order to prepare me for my upcoming book launch, Jeff offered to pull out the big guns and provide me with some anti-crying strategies. No guarantees of course, but at least the tears will be less immobilizing.   

I picked Jeff up at 6 am so we could drive downtown together and beat the traffic. The first thing he did when he saw me was to thank me so much for picking him up. (He is helping and training me, and he’s thanking me. I would have picked him up in North Bay!) But that sweet and sincere “thank you” set the tone immediately. And then I watched as Jeff spread his magic throughout the early morning hours. We stopped for breakfast and he thanked the parking attendant, he thanked the host at the restaurant, he thanked the waiter, he thanked the chef. He doled out continuous, genuine, intangible, heartfelt gratitude and appreciation by saying thank you (really saying thank you) and smiling at each and every one of them. He did it so naturally and so sincerely, I don’t even think he realized the effect he was having on these people. But I did. They smiled back. They obviously felt his gratitude for them and for what they did, despite the fact that they were just doing their job.

He appreciated them. They appreciated him. It was like watching a gift exchange.

I can say with complete confidence that not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought about my family who I lost almost 40 years ago. And I can also say without any doubt, that both Barry and I are where we are today because we have valued and appreciated so many people along the way. An invitation for dinner, a ride somewhere, a cup of coffee, an old table and chairs . . .  no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, we were grateful. We said thank you. The feel good kind of thank you. Because we meant it.

Having each lost so much as children, we learned early on that you never take anything for granted. We truly appreciated and valued anything and everything that others did for us. Gratitude was always our underlying attitude. And now that we are in a position to give back, we love the genuine thanks and appreciation we continuously receive. Giving, getting, appreciating, thanking . . . it’s a continuous positive cycle.

When someone says thank you and really means it, their gratitude makes its way right into your heart. I think we are incredibly lucky to understand and appreciate the value of gratitude in life.

It continues to amaze me that there are people like Jeff who thank others profusely for the smallest things, and sadly, there are others who will take and take without ever feeling grateful.

Ungratefulness breeds greed and jealousy.

Gratitude breeds abundance.

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Superheroes

In the classic superhero story, someone noted for their distinguished courage and strength is dedicated to protecting people. Known and admired for having extraordinary powers and for doing brave deeds, the courageous superhero is noble and invincible.

I’ve met my share of superheroes. But my superheroes were not invincible, nor were they the world’s strongest and most powerful people. In fact, they couldn’t even fly. Instead, they came to my rescue with sincerity and compassion. Authentic and genuine (heart and soul) help.  

Faced with a terrible tragedy at 13 years old, I intuitively knew I had to find a way to be strong and brave. Heroic. To carry on with life. To look after myself, my father, my grandparents and our cat, Tiger.

Remember, I was young, but I still chose LIFE.

Having made that choice, I discovered my stubborn will to fight for my life, for happiness, for the strength to move beyond the pain.

Determination can be incredibly powerful.

It was not easy. There were many times when the fear and anxiety would take over, smothering and choking me, and I was tempted to give up the fight. Leave the race. Succumb to losing the battle.

That’s when I learned the true definition of a hero.

For me, there was a difference between having to be heroic, and recognizing the heroes in my life. I had to be brave, to find that inner strength to keep on going, but the people who were there for me – they were the true heroes. They were my superheroes.

It’s not the things they did that I remember, it’s how they made me feel – supported, cared about, loved, appreciated, valued – that’s how my heroes protected me. They held me up in those times of darkness, with kindness, support, comfort and unspoken understanding.

Julie was one of my honest-to-goodness heroes.

Back when my mother was pregnant with Wendy, my parents decided that we should have a live-in babysitter so that my mom could go back to work. Julie had answered the ad in the local newspaper, having just arrived in Montreal from St. Lucia.

When Wendy was born, Julie carried her around as if she was her mother. She fed her, burped her, kissed her, hugged her, rocked her. When Wendy was old enough to sit by herself, she let us bring her in the bath with us. When Wendy started to talk, she couldn’t say “Julie” so she called her “Deedee” over and over again.

My mother and Julie were almost the same age and they got along well from the moment they met. My mother adored Julie, and always said that she completely trusted her, and how lucky we were to have her living in our house.

From the moment that Julie moved into our house, she made herself comfortable in the kitchen, preparing and cooking traditional West Indian food. Her stew and “dumplins” were an instant hit and became a regular part of our family’s dinner menu. She also boiled disgustingly smelly fish and, although the odour lingered in the house for days, my parents never said a word to her about it, and never asked her to stop. My sisters and I on the other hand, made a huge deal about it, dramatically holding our noses, moaning about the strong smell and covering our mouths with masks made out of dish towels. Since our complaints were ignored, we gave up on our mission to ban boiled fish. It was a small price to pay for the love Julie so readily doled out.  

Julie was part of our family. If you needed a hug, she wrapped you so tightly in her arms you could barely breathe. She ate with us, did homework with us, got angry if we didn’t listen to her, laughed with us, hugged us, loved us. And we loved her. She didn’t have a bone of nonsense about her. If she didn’t like something or someone, she said what was on her mind. No fuss. No politics. She was just a down to earth, bold and sincere human being.

Julie stayed with us for almost six years and, when Wendy went to school full days, Julie moved out. She found a job in a retail store and lived with a few friends in an apartment, but she missed living with us, and we missed her. She still came to Friday night dinners at my grandparents’ house, and didn’t miss any holiday, birthday or other special occasion. She called us on the phone and dropped by during the week for supper. We went to see her at her apartment, and stopped by the store where she was working. Julie promised Wendy that when she had children, she would move in and help her with her kids. That always made Wendy smile.

A few months after the plane crash, Julie moved back in with us. Thank God. My dad and I couldn’t get to her apartment fast enough to fill his station wagon with her clothes and whatever other items she could fit in the car. I told her that she could boil her smelly fish every single day, I wouldn’t care. I was just relieved to have her back with us. I was hungry for some of that good, old fashioned St. Lucia love that Julie was blessed with giving.

Julie and I have kept in close contact through the years. She will be speaking at the Repairing Rainbows book launch on June 15th.

There are some people on earth who are true heroes. They come into your life when you need their help, in those times of darkness, carrying you when you need to be held, guiding, comforting, understanding, teaching.

I will never forget the people who threw me a life jacket when I was exhausted from treading water and felt as if I were drowning.

It doesn’t take much to be a hero. Sometimes the smallest thing can have a huge, positive impact on someone who is struggling.

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Scatter Zone

Up until a few weeks ago, I had never given any thought to the concept of a scatter zone.

When you drop a glass, you clean up the broken pieces. You notice many different sizes and shapes of broken glass. The big pieces are carefully picked up and you usually need a broom or vacuum for the small pieces. Now, when I think about that broken glass, I realize there’s a ‘scatter zone’ because it’s not unusual to find a piece of glass a few days later, quite far from where the glass broke. (Oh, and by the way, whenever I’ve broken a glass, I always chose to consider it an omen of good luck. Why not? It’s already broken so I’d much rather think of it as a sign of good luck, instead of getting upset. We always have choices. We get to choose how to look at things.)

The ‘scatter zone’ was talked about in the memorial garden meeting. It’s not something I had ever thought about. Evidence of the crash was found in a large area outside of the actual crash impact zone.  Thankfully, there was no loss of human life on the ground either at the impact zone or the scatter zone. But there was another form of ‘scatter zone’ related to the plane crash. The emotional scatter zone. The emotional effects of the tragedy that were scattered amongst many others, in addition to the family members of the victims.

The plane crash devastatingly shook the small community known as Castlemore. The people living there either saw or heard the plane explode above their homes. Lynne and her family lived in Castlemore. She was 13 years old at the time and she says she will never forget that day for as long as she lives.

“My sister saw the whole thing.”

“I can still hear the sound of the explosions. It was like a nuclear explosion.”

“I can still hear my mother screaming.”

“It was 150 feet from the Burgsmas’ house.”  

Lynne says that the plane crash affected her entire family, and many of the families in her farm community.

“Those involved still suffer from it.”

“We had no choice. We had to carry on with life.”

“The day that it happened, we felt helpless. Emergency vehicles were everywhere. People were walking on our property. They were giving out passes to control access to the area. ”

Yes, there were many others in the emotional scatter zone. Boris was the first photographer on the scene approximately 30 minutes after the plane had crashed. He is 75 years old now, having spent his career as an award winning photographer. With tears in his eyes, Boris told me that his assignments have taken him to many horrific scenes, but this plane crash was worse than any war zone he has ever seen.

For the first time since the plane crash, I have recently begun sharing my personal journey from calamity to triumph. Having opened this door, I have started hearing from many people who were friends with either my mother or one of my sisters. Each of their descriptions of the impact this plane crash had on their lives has left me speechless. I had no idea.

I am finding chunks of broken glass scattered far from where the glass dropped.

When you’re in the whirlwind of a tragedy, you just don’t realize how far and wide the emotional scatter zone actually reaches.

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Cathartic

It’s been almost forty years since the plane crash. After all these years, one would think that it is no longer difficult for me to write or talk about it. In fact, most people assume that the experience of writing my book about that deeply painful time of my life must have been therapeutic. Cathartic.

When I think back to those initial few months after the tragedy, one thing I remember hearing over and over was that time heals. Almost forty years later, I have to say that time does not heal. To heal suggests to cure or restore something back to health.

I don’t think anyone could ever fully recover from losing a mother and two sisters, particularly when those profound losses occur when you are a child. In fact, I believe that I have spent my entire life grieving and longing for them. Losing them affected everything significant I ever have done. The effects have appeared and reappeared. It has been unpredictable. Erratic.

The hurt never went away.

However, staying hopeful, strong and positive, I did create a wonderful life, but the underlying emptiness that can never be filled by anyone else was always there, just not always heard.

Writing my book and then working with Peter, the CBC journalist, involved reliving the intense pain and hurt. Opening the wounds that had been so carefully bandaged all these years. Disturbing the scars no different than if you had picked a scab off your arm.

There were times during my writing, where I had put myself so completely into the past that I forgot about the present. I was actually disoriented, back in time, hurting so badly I could not control the tears.

But I see now that the journey was both difficult and cathartic.

Along with the struggles and sadness came important lessons. As I reflected, it became obvious to me that the life lessons have been endless. My hope for the book is that readers will learn the value of growth in the face of tragedy. If my experiences can help light the way for others, then the intensity of the writing was all worthwhile.

For almost forty years, the field where the plane crash occurred has remained untouched. I have never been able to go to the site. I have heard through the years that small bones and pieces of debris have continuously surfaced at the crash site, despite the original clean-up. How incredibly ironic. That is exactly the way the tragedy has played itself out in my life. No matter how many years went by, the memories, nightmares, fears and worry continued to resurface.

The land was recently sold to a residential developer.

The first step in creating the documentary with Peter was attending a meeting together with people from the City of Brampton and the new landowners, to hear about the plans for the future memorial garden. I was quiet and composed throughout the meeting UNTIL they brought out the display board with the artist’s rendering of the memorial garden. It was surrounded by purple lilacs.

I lost it.

Fortunately my daughter Rebecca was with me at the meeting, and she knew immediately why I fell apart seeing the lilacs. My mother’s favourite flowers were purple lilacs and of all the choices, that was what they were planning to use. Incredible.

When I was able to speak, I explained my tears. They advised us that a woman named Lynne had insisted they use purple lilacs. Who was this woman?

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I Chose Life.

Law of Attraction, simply stated, is that we attract into our life what we think about. Thoughts become things. There are no coincidences. Things don’t happen because of chance, luck or accident.
Almost forty years ago, the life I’d known for 13 years was extinguished when my mother and two younger sisters were killed in an Air Canada plane crash. Back then, when a tragedy struck, particularly of this magnitude, the most common thing said was that time would heal. There were no grief counsellors or trauma specialists jumping in to help. In fact, no one talked about it. People didn’t know what to say or do, so pretending that everything was as it should be, life just had to go on.
I’m not sure there is any explanation for such an awful tragedy using the Law of Attraction. But what I do know is that I chose LIFE. And in doing so, I made sure that as often as possible, my thoughts were focused on positivity, patience, optimism, gratitude, joy and life fulfillment.
As we approach the fortieth anniversary of the plane crash, and having just finished writing a book about life since 1970, I see without question that I’ve had a joyous and meaningful like because I chose LIFE over and over again.
My book, Repairing Rainbows, will be available in a few weeks. There will be a memorial service and dedication to a future beautiful memorial garden at the crash site for the upcoming fortieth anniversary. And a few weeks ago, while sitting on a beach with my husband Barry in Punta Cana, I got an email from a CBC journalist about his interest in doing a documentary about the memorial. My first thought was that I had to find a way to make that documentary very interesting. Then, that same afternoon, on that same beach, I met a man who was a retired commercial pilot. Within minutes of chatting, I discovered that he had witnessed the plane crash. He was there. He was 17 years old and had always dreamed of being a pilot, so he used to go to the airport to watch the planes take off and land. He was there that Sunday morning, and when he saw the engine smouldering on the runway, he jumped in his car and drove to the crash site hoping to help. He was the first one to arrive and he never got out of his car.
He went on to become a pilot for Air Canada, and he said over and over that for as long as he lives, he will never forget that horrific Sunday morning.
I was speechless.
Coincidence? I think not!
I showed him the email from the CBC journalist on my Blackberry. I asked if he would be interested in participating and he immediately agreed.
To make things even more incredible, his wife was a retired long-time employee of the Toronto Star.
Coincidence? I think not!
I immediately told her how I had been trying to get permission from someone at the long-gone Montreal Star to use a picture from the newspaper for my book cover. It was a picture of my sister’s doll that was found almost intact at the crash site. Seeing that doll which my sister had named Barbara, on the front page of the Montreal Star the day after the plane crash, threw everyone into an unforgettable blood chilling state of hysterics. Almost forty years later, and I will never forget that terrifying feeling.
When I got back home from Punta Cana, I followed her instructions and found the photographer who had taken the picture. I contacted him and he agreed to sell me the picture.
Suddenly this CBC documentary was becoming very interesting.

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