Never an easy day, but a wild coincidence happened…

Yesterday still was a tough day for many, even after 5 years.  Missing Katie, missing Nate too and hoping he is thriving in Germany.  Things peak at expected and surprise times.

Here are a few candles for Katie love, and then I’ll share something weird that happened yesterday of all days, in the wilds of Canada… BUT she is likely still in all of your lives as well!!
(click for full size images)

Barbara’s candle has this quote: “When we leave this earth, the love that we have given and received remains behind to light the lives of those we touched. Each memory, a candle burning bright”

My Katie moment – Hope you all have these too…

I was up spending some time / lending a hand at Andy and Amy’s (grew up with Andy) very remote fishing lodges / outpost cabins up on a 22-mile long lake in Canada about 4 and half hours North from Sault Ste Marie, MI (Canadian border for those out of state).  Katie and I had toyed with the idea of heading up here had her bone pain not been so bad to make the drive.  She had gone to summer camp in high school at a very remote lake a little past the “big town” (pop 3000) of Wawa, Ontario, and not too far from Andy and Amy’s lake.  She would talk about how it was a formative experience (they kinda do a be-really-really-with-nature and some strength-through-tough-but-fun-experiences development for their campers).  She would recall how they had gotten so used to being bitten by mosquitoes and black flies that the game was to pinch your skin to not let the buggers fly way, and see who could make the biggest bug/blood explosion on their arm/body.  Canoeing and portaging to other lakes was another memory she shared.  Not that Katie needed any toughening up, but I think this camp just solidified her spirit in ways.  Though, I am kinda guessing, as I didn’t meet her for the first time until 4-5 years later in our lives.

So, she really wanted to head back up to Wawa and it’s surroundings, and Andy even offered to fly us from Sault Ste Marie to their lodge in his small Cessna float plane, both to save Katie some time in the car but also give her that experience.  Sadly we never made the trip due to her discomfort for sitting in one position for long periods.  I myself never got up to Andy and Amy’s place until just last year.

Maybe four years ago, Andy was asking me about the camp that Katie had gone to, because he had seen a truck/van with campers (eager to eat some poutine in town), pulling a trailer of trash at the even smaller town somewhat between the two lakes, that has the dump.  Andy noted the Michigan license plate and the camp name sticker on the side, and struck up a conversation…  Sure enough, Tamarack Camps, a Jewish camp local here to SE Michigan had a remote outpost camp just north of Wawa.  He was just in awe that way up here in the middle of nowhere he would run into folks from near our hometown… and he immediately let me know that he likely found Katie’s camp!

Fast forward to last week… I went up to the lake for a week or so and Andy knew Katie’s 5-year date was approaching and told me he found out which lake Tamarack’s outpost camp was on.  He was doing a bit of searching Google Maps to see if we could identify the actual camp location on the 10-ish mile long lake so we could fly over it to see Katie’s camp and maybe even call ahead a get permission to land and pull up at their dock.  Very kind of him and unfortunately, bad weather took away the couple windows that he could have taken the time to do this. (There was actually a commercial float plane that sadly crashed in the following days likely due to the weather).  But Andy did take me up just Thursday for a little spin around the lakes in their neck of the woods.  Had Katie’s ashes in the charm around my neck as always, so she got to experience this at last too.  Some photos below.

Had planned to leave the lake on Fri to drive halfway back to Sault Ste Marie and arrive home Sat in time to have a bonfire with some of Katie’s friends to make a tough day a little brighter with company.  Couldn’t leave on time and ended up staying another night.  Fri night experienced some complete, utter love from the staff that lives at the one of the two main locations as missing Katie kinda hit me really hard and fast.  Didn’t think I would be up here so long so didn’t bring a Yahrzeit candle, and was boating back to my cabin kinda late.  Thankfully joined the staff next door whom lifted my spirits in a huge way, and they had a candle burning – perfect, I thought!

— Sorry for this long story, but wanted to give you the history behind this moment:

Left the lake Sat early afternoon and about and hour and half in (some rough dirt roads that take time to travel driving a friend’s truck with ground clearance) and made a stop at the ubiquitous Tim Horton’s (and gathering spot) in Wawa for a coffee before hitting up the gas station.  Upon coming out of Tim’s with my coffee and donut… there, sitting in the back of the small lot is a green van with Tamarack Camps on the side of it.  On this day in particular, in Wawa, her camp truck was sitting right there.  I hadn’t made it to her lake, but instead the camp found Katie.  Pretty surreal actually… I snapped a quick picture of the bus with another car kinda in the way, and was just gonna be on my way.  Was back in the truck, looked over and saw someone in the drivers seat and got the courage to go inquire.

Meet the wonderful Marissa who is a/the director of the camp, whom just had driven into town to use the free wifi from the parking lot, and make a few phone calls.  (Like I said, they believe in true being in nature experience for their campers).  Explained the significance of the day, and that Katie had been to their camp in the mid-80’s and simply loved it.  I think she was a little taken aback that I was actually lived less than a mile from their headquarters, and that we were talking way up here and that I knew one of her past campers.  Pretty surreal moment.  I asked if I could write Katie’s name in the dust on the back of the van next to the other camper’s name, so that she could go back to camp yesterday.  And of course that was okay…  We got Katie back to her camp again, and I am honestly still pretty impacted about the turn of events and the timing of this all.  I was crying a bit in the truck for the next 30 minutes (and even as I write this).

I am not very religious, and somewhat analytical, but things like this really drive home that maybe there is ALOT more to our lost loved ones really being that close still.  Maybe this moment can also bring you this wonderful feeling of connection and timelessness…  and may it ease some pain hopefully.

Marissa is gonna email me a photo if they can find Katie’s name on the birch board from those years gone by.  But this even as is, just might be enough of sign Katie is still watching over us.  And likely she is in your local lives as well!!!

Katie’s flight Thursday up in the northern Ontario wilderness like her camp: (click for full size)

Some sunsets and sunrises in Katie’s wilderness to give you another feel for it all. Stays light until after 10pm being so far north…

Peace and love to you all.  May Katie be close to you, today and everyday, sending her love to us in unexpected ways….

  1. You are an inspiring storyteller and I think this shows Katie still lives in all of our hearts. Thanks for sharing this.


  2. You are an amazing and inspiring storyteller, Ashby. Katie definitely still lives in all of our hearts. Thanks for sharing this uplifting story.


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