Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sobbing into my oatmeal this morning...

I don't know a lot about freestyle skiing, but many Canadians (especially those who have been following the Olympics) have at least a hazy knowledge of who Sarah Burke is/was. Burke fought to have freestyle skiing included at these Olympics. She's one of the main reasons why the sport made its debut in Sochi -- but she was not there to enjoy her triumph or contend for a medal. She died two years ago in a training accident.

The IOC, in its infinite wisdom, put the kibosh on the skiers' request to memorialize Burke with a sticker on their helmets -- but they (the skiers) have been paying tribute to Burke at these Olympic Games in other ways, as this Toronto Star article so poignantly describes.

I was emotional and teary-eyed enough at the thought of Burke's coach carrying out his stealth mission... but I broke down in sobs over my oatmeal this morning as I read to dh aloud:
As we left the room after speaking to Paynter, someone said, “I’m a little tired of the dead girl story.”
I don't know who that insensitive soul was -- but I suspect he or she has never experienced tragedy, never lost someone close to them in a traumatic way. Even almost 16 years after Katie's stillbirth, those words stung me in a very personal way. How many people have probably thought or said the same thing about me, behind my back? 

It's so easy to be "tired of the dead girl story" -- until it's YOUR dead girl, your dead teammate, your dead baby.

We may get tired of carrying the heavy burden of grief, sometimes -- but we will never, ever, get tired of thinking and remembering those we have loved and lost, and sharing them with those who are kind and patient enough to listen to us. They will be a part of our lives and who we are for the rest of our lives, for as long as we live, and maybe longer.

As the columnist said:
 The dead girl story doesn’t just remain relevant. It’s the whole point of coming. 


  1. I will say I am tired of hearing about Sarah's death too. I am sorry to her family and friends but the Canadian media have made her the icon of this games and I am sick of it. I understand she did something for the sport but she is not the only one. I am sorry but people need to move on the pain of her parents,husband, and loved ones, is not my pain, just like my pain in life is there. The people are just mad that she was mention in almost every sentence of this game.

  2. I agree with you. Like your anonymous commenter, many people obviously get tired of hearing about someone else's pain (and are, in my opinion, insensitive and eager to live in a world that doesn't acknowledge sadness). Pain exists because of love, devotion, admiration, and dedication. Those are things we value and celebrate, and in choosing to ignore death, we choose to ignore people whose lives still merit celebration. I love the way Sarah Burke has been honored--what a legacy.

  3. Lovely post. So sad that she didn't get there, but great that people are remembering her.

  4. @Anonymous, I'll agree that sometimes the media overplays these things, and they may have a bit at these Olympics. But even if the pain of her loved ones isn't your pain, it is no doubt still very real to them, particularly right now.

  5. Thank you for sharing this. I was actually wondering what the story behind Sarah was.

  6. Yeah, I thought that comment about the "dead girl" thing was very insensitive. But death makes people uncomfortable, particularly young people I think. I thought it was incredibly touching that Sarah did make it there in the end.