This I Believe

Julie - Fairfield, Connecticut
Entered on March 23, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: death

Forever Joined to the Sea and the Sky

I’ve made the journey back to Nova Scotia many times since my husband was killed there nearly a decade ago. I go back to a beautiful, wild spot perched precariously where North America meets the crashing waves of the Atlantic – and realize that part of me died there as well when Swissair 111 went down on the evening of September 2nd 1998. I believe that it was only there that I could start again – it was only in confronting loss, that I could truly move forward.

I’m told that Peggy’s Cove was calm and clear on that evening – a small coastal community in the final catches of a glorious summer. The next morning, the Cove and its 50 inhabitants awoke to a changed world – one ablaze with emergency vehicles. Recovery efforts were well underway for the 229 persons aboard the flight, but there would be no survivors and the victim’s loved ones were also jolted awake to an irreversibly changed world.

Three months later, my brother, Matthew, and I landed in Halifax on a cold and snowy afternoon. In contrast, the next morning was magnificent – a crisp, clear day – when we headed off on the coastal road to visit the closest land to the accident.

When we arrived at the small fishing village of Peggy’s Cove, the rocks leading up to the lighthouse and land’s end were treacherous and slippery. On that bitterly cold day in December, I looked out onto the restless Atlantic and felt closer to Pascal than I had in the months since his death.

As I stood on the rocky coastline in the biting winds of the northern winter, I knew that I’d be able to continue, although the road would wind sharply and mount steeply when I least expected it.

My emotions were too raw in the years immediately following the accident to delve too deeply into the loss and its enormity. The lost promise of a future with Pascal was too painful to accept and the memories of our happy past were too heartbreaking to allow myself to remember. Yet, my life somehow continued.

I believe that I’m only able to fully grapple with these emotions and memories now that I’m happily remarried with two beautiful children. Even then, the process has been extremely difficult. My life with Pascal and his tragic death are part of who I am and I know that I need to remember.

On that day nine years ago, the journey truly began. I placed a handmade wreath of fresh evergreens at a makeshift memorial nestled in the rocks.

As I looked out over the waves, I knew that Pascal would give me the strength to once again open up to life – to feel strong emotions and to enjoy beauty. I secured the wreath to the granite outcrop and said a prayer into the wind.