Last Thursday, my life (and by default, 52 Projects) came to a screeching halt.
For those of you who know me personally, you know that The Otesha Project has, for years, been a huge part of my life. For those of you who don’t, let me quickly bring you up to speed. The Otesha Project is an organization that uses theatre to educate and empower people to examine their every day choices and their impact on the world. Through cycling tours, these presentations offer a message of hope and inspire others to take matters into their own hands to create a more just and sustainable world. Otesha has supported me cycling across British Columbia; it provided me with my first program management job; it has introduced me to people that I consider family; it provides me with inspiration and hope on a daily basis; and now I sit on its Board of Directors.
On Thursday, a member of one of Otesha’s cycling tours was killed in a roadside accident while on tour. To say that this has been devastating is an understatement. There simply aren’t words to describe the pain that I’ve felt along with the rest of the staff, board and hundreds of other Otesha supporters.
The tour currently on the road is our 23rd. Through these tours we’ve trained over 350 sustainability advocates and spread our message to over 100,000 individuals. We have spawned Otesha Project’s in Australia and the UK, published a book on sustainable living, and left the message of hope for a better world in our trails. To think that such a tragedy could strike a group trying to do such good is beyond me.
The last 6 days have been a whirlwind of conference calls, last minute trips to Ottawa, contacting parents and alumni, coordinating memorial events, and in between, grieving.
I’m not sure what other words I can offer right now, except to say that amidst all of this sadness, there has also been love. And so to finish off last week’s project of writing love letters, I now offer this one. For those waiting patiently for the next How To, know that buttons, shampoo and a cork board have all been made, and I will try to get back on track with regular posting soon.
It feels funny to write a love letter to someone I’ve never met. And moreso, to someone I know I never will. But Andrew, when I say that I love you, know that I mean it with all my heart.
While we’ve never met, in these past few days you’ve become like a brother. I’ve realized our shared passion for cooking, and using food to educate young people. I’ve heard silly stories about you, like keeping your face painted like a bicycle for days on end. I’ve found out that in the small circles that I walk in, we’ve shared friends and experiences. But most of all, I’ve understood the power of the connection that we share by both being part of the Otesha family – something that will bind us together always.
These past days, I’ve cried a lot. For your parents, your sister, your friends, your teammates. I’ve cried for the loss of an incredible human being in this world, and all the good I know you would have done. I’ve cried for the moments that we could have shared, and now will never be able to.
But I’ve also cried for the beauty, creativity, and compassion that you’ve brought out in people.
This is how I will remember you Andrew. As a person who inspired hundreds to be the best, most loving, compassionate and alive people they can be. You’ve reminded us of the gift of being alive. Reminded us to cherish these moments. Inspired us to love, live, dream and act.
For the love, compassion and hope you brought to the world in your 23 short years, thank you. I’ll never forget you.
With love, and in love,