A number of weeks ago your newspaper published a report concerning the death of our 15- year-old daughter Catherine as a result of a skiing accident at Manning Park. Although the article accurately reported the facts surrounding Catherine’s death, it did not convey to the readers what she was like and what we as a family have lost. Hence the purpose of this letter.
Catherine was a very special girl. She loved life and all that it had to offer. She was smart and funny and beautiful. She had a gift of making friends with everyone she met and making those on the periphery feel valued and included. She had a passion for animals – especially horses – and used to volunteer at a horse rescue centre when we lived in Ontario. She especially loved nature. As a family we cannot help but feel it was fitting that she died on a mountain only seconds after viewing some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
But there is one thing about Catherine that we wanted to convey to your readers more than anything else: our daughter was a sincere Christian. By that, we do not simply mean she went to church on Sundays, read her Bible and prayed every day. She did all those things and more. We mean she trusted in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Saviour and sought to live for Him and to His glory. This has been such a comfort for us as a family. That is because we believe what the Bible teaches – that those who trust in Christ and live for Him will never really die. Yes, their body will be laid to rest in the ground, but their soul will go immediately to be with the Lord in heaven.
Some (many?) people reading this might think we are crazy. Or they might say we are simply using our religion as a crutch to get us through the pain of our loss. But we know – and are convinced – that these things are true.
As a family, we have many questions. We do not know why God took our daughter away at such a young age. But we also know that God never makes a mistake and that whatever happens is a result of His sovereign will and serves to accomplish His purposes – whatever those purposes may be. That includes the death of our precious daughter. But one thing we do know: that God is real. His Word is true and that those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved. Catherine believed this with all of her heart. We hope you will too.
We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to various members of the community who helped us through this tragic event, including Mike Barker, the manager of Manning Park, and his staff for their kindness and compassion in the weeks following Catherine’s death. A special thank you to the paramedics who worked so hard to try to save Catherine’s life. Catherine dreamed of becoming a paramedic one day. She would have been delighted to now that she was surrounded by them in the final moments of her life.
Thank you too to Constable Doleman from the Princeton RCMP detachment, who gently and patiently provided us with information and answers to all of our questions; Constables Josh Parihar and Mike Hanninen of the Abbotsford Police Department, who informed us of Catherine’s death; Russel and Sharn (last names withheld) from the Abbotsford Victim’s Support Unit, who kindly offered to help us through our grieving process; Dr. Adam Cave, the coroner who was in charge of the post mortem, for the compassionate way he handled this matter and who did everything in his power to expedite the post mortem so that Catherine was able to come home sooner than we had expected; and Dr. Darcy McGifford, the coroner on call at the time of Catherine’s death, who provided care, support and answers to our many questions and listened gently as a mother poured out her anguished heart. We feel truly blessed to be part of a warm and caring community. Thank you all.
Should anyone want to know more about our daughter, they are welcome to view her Facebook page entitled “Remembering Catherine Schoeman.”
Rev. Jack and Susan Schoeman