Our dear friend Melissa Loewen was killed yesterday in a car crash. This is the only picture I have of her, she tended to get up tight around cameras. Can't believe how much of an impact she had on Sarah, Kim and I in just a year. Right now, I wish I could convey how much this woman was alive with love and grace.
update: A few people have found this page googling for Melissa Loewen. There was a story in today's Hearld but they don't mention her by name. Not sure how long the story will be available.
update II: The Calgary Sun has a story that adds one bit of information: The car the woman was driving was hit on the passenger door by an eastbound Mercury Sable, said Mounties, who believe she was wearing a seat-belt. I know a number of us had wondered about the seat-belt thing.
update III: Kevin has posted his goodbye to Melissa. Thing is I was thinking today how I'm quite sure it was Melissa who first invited me to tag along to a post Xalt function. I know she was the first to invite Sarah along to something, even if I couldn't go. She had a way of making people feel welcome and at ease.
updte IV: From the Calgary Herald: School Mourns Popular Music Teacher
Last week, Grade 5 Langdon School student Andrew Culver was all set to earn a "yellow belt" in music class.
Popular music teacher Melissa Loewen had come up with the idea of awarding students with different colour belts, like in karate, as an incentive to learn new songs.
All Andrew had to do was play his part in a recorder duet.
"Me and my friend were trying to pass a song to exceed a grade level," Culver said Saturday.
"But my friend couldn't stop laughing in the middle of the song."
That's when Loewen stepped in.
Together, she and Culver piped out the tune Chatter with Angels on their recorders -- earning the youngster his passing grade and earning the favourite teacher another glowing accolade.
The well-liked teacher was known for finding creative ways to make music class fun, teaching everything from recorders and xylophones to musical Jeopardy and new dances for the Christmas play.
News of the accident spread quickly through the hamlet.
"It's very hard on the community," said Anita Wagner, whose two children attend the kindergarten-to Grade 8 school. "It's very sad. The kids did very much like her."
Loewen taught music and art to most of the school's 550 students.
Wagner sat down with her children Saturday to break the devastating news.
"We wanted them to be able to talk about it, and get their feelings in the open and not be presented with it at school," she said. "It's just really harder when this happens in a small community, and when she's so young."
On Friday afternoon, teachers had held a retirement party for the school's outgoing librarian.
Loewen helped organize the event and stayed behind to help clean up. She was heading into Calgary when the crash occurred, Wagner said.
We'd been talking about vocation a couple of weeks ago, and Melissa made it very clear it was the kids that mattered to her. I was glad to see this article captured that.
Update V: Nat posts
It was just last Sunday she sat on our living room couch with us as we enjoyed ice cream sundaes, sharing embarrassing moments and summer plans, and she excitingly talked about her plans to travel to Australia. She was full of life, of heart and plans for the future.Update VI: Ed and Debbie have blogged their thoughts. I need to add an amen to Debbie's thought about Melissa "you who fit perfectly in all of our lives and who seemed like you had always been there".
Update VII: Melissa's obituary has been published. I'd like to thank everyone who's taken time to share there memories of Melissa, she touched so many lives in such short time. It's been truly beautiful to read your comments.
Upate VIII: From Lisa Smith - Dear Melissa,
It has been several weeks, and some days I still don't believe that you're gone. It is too much of an impossibility that someone so vitally young and alive could somehow not be anymore. And I don't think you'd ever realize how big of a gap you left. I still feel ill at the fact that I didn't do more. In the rush of preparing to rush off to yet another foreign country, all the funeral details passed me by. I couldn't even find a moment to write of how much I'll miss your steady, gentle, organized and hilarious presence in my life. But maybe the seeming unreality of it all kept me from this moment. I think I'm still in shock. However, I'm writing to you now, with apologies for the tardiness.
Click Dear Melissa to read the rest.