Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A gift Out of Tragedy

Ok, first, imagine yourself to be in this situation. You have a wonderful family, a good spouse and two lovely four year old twins. Life could not seem to be better. Then one day you neighbour went for a holiday and left his teenage son in charge of the house. He asks your spouse to check in occassionally on the house.

Now imagine this, one night, when your husband/wife is returning from work, he/she decides to check on the house. To his/her horror, there are almost 200 over young partygoers in the house, heavily into booze and drugs.

He/she tries to get everyone out of the house but in his/her attempt, your spouse is punched and kicked repeatedly. Rushed to the hospital, he/she dies of brain haemorrhage.

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What would you do? Your whole life is shattered. Years of happy marriage, broken just because someone is drunk.
As for Katy Hudchison, revenge, or anything like it, is not on her mind. A life is shattered, and she is determined not to do the same to her husband's, Bob, teen killer. She promises her children and herself that would find a gift that will not only heal their family but her husbands killer as well.


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When her husbands' killer is arrested, with the name Ryan Aldridge, Katy is determined to salvage anything good that can be get through this experience. She wants to change lives, and that includes Ryans' too.


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The story progresses, Katy found herself asking how could she stop history from repeating itself to others.
Her answer?
She and Oak Bay Secondary School decides to to a presentation entitled "The Bob Story", to show students about her story, hoping to instill some awareness into students about the consequences of booze and drugs.


She spent a hard time doing the presentation. As she took photographs of Bob's life with digital camera, sweet memory flashes back. The hardest part is when she got to the part where she needs a photo of Bob's body, dead. But she knew she had to do it.

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She started with 30 students.
In the beginning of the presentation, students are shown photos of Bob's life, starting from when he is a baby. There are pictures of him playing hockey, aerial skiing. There were laughs too when Katy tells them about Bob's antics even though he was still an adult. Although childish, it helps bring life to her life.


When she showed the picture of Bob in the morgue, the room fell silent. Everyone stared at her with disbelief. How could a fairy tale like this end just like that? Its unfair!

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One of the thing she told the students is about the biggest risk of all when attending this kind of party and doing this kind of action. Regrets of their behaviour. As in the story,
"they will wake up after a night of partying and not remember if they said something they may regret or made an advance on someone they do not really have those feelings for."
In her words, "... I realised the presentation has given me the opportunity to connect. If I can tell a story that gets kid talking, it might make a difference.
... I feel that i have found a perfect legacy for Bob. Wherever i can find a place to set up my computer and get kids to listen, i can bring him to life and leave a powerful lesson behind."


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But the story doesn't just end here. When she read about the victim-offender reconciliation, Katy wanted to meet Ryan. She tells Ryan about the work she is doing and before Christmas, she got an envelope from Ryan. It read, "I hope this short story of my life will help your presentation". And inside was this typewritten letter:


"My name is Ryan, I am serving five years in federal prison for manslaughter. I hope that by helping Katy... I can influence youth to make better choices than I did.
...Like most teenagers in secondary school I was concerned about meeting new friends and fitting in. During my early years I was picked on, bullied and pushed around. I did not tell my parents and thought I could deal with the problem myself. Eventually I made friends, and the drinking and partying began. My school grades suffered, and i barely graduated. I was in three alcohol related car accidents, and also lost a friend on grad night in a tragic car accident. Instead of grieving, I became angry and started looking for answers in all the wrong places- I was 19, and my life was spiralling out of control.
On New Year's Eve 1997, a friend was having a party; the house was unsupervised since his father was out of town. Around 150 guests attented, most of them teens. Drugs and alcohol were everywhere. I was heavily intoxicated and listening to music upstairs. An unidentified guest came up, suggesting we leave the house. My buddy was arguing with him, then punched him. As the stranger fell to the ground, I kicked him. (Four times, I was later told.) Chaos erupted. An ambulance arrived, followed by the police. To avoid confrontation I left with my buddies and moved on to another party, not knowing that I had just made the most fatal mistake of my life. Next morning I learned that the man died from his injuries. I didn't know what to do, my head was foggy, it seemed like a bad dream. I couldn't believe that I was responsible. What would my family think of me? I was scared- so the silence began. I was haunted by nightmares. After four years I began falling apart and finally broke my silence to an undercover police officer. They now had enough evidence to charge me. My family was devastated.
Because of my poor actions a precious life has been lost. A father was taken from his children, a husband from his wife and a man from his family and friends. The biggest question I ask myself is: Why did I do this? That question may never be answered. However, I do know that doing jail time is easy compared to the guilt I have to live with for the rest of my life!"


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The letter says it all. But thats not how the story end, soon Ryan was speaking with Katy and when asked if she and Ryan were friends now, this is her answer:


"Yes, i suppose we are... If a friend is someone you have learned to respect, someone who you have been through things with and come out the other side together with, then yes, we are."

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This is indeed a touching story. A story which we all can relate to.


Often as teenagers, we would do actions that we would always regret later. But regret is just only regret, we never learned to change for the better until something worse happen, like the Story of Bob. Then only we would wish to turn time back, to undo the wrong we done. But what had taken place could never be changed.

Ask yourself, are you like Ryan's past? Living for all the wrong reasons without knowing your responsibility in this world? Without knowing where you're heading? That your focus is only today, not the future?

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I will leave it for you all to ponder about the story, the lesson behind it.


Next time you want to do some actions that you yourself would know its wrong, think about the consequences, think about the "biggest risk of all: having regrets for your behaviour", think about the story of Bob.

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Based on the article from Reader's Digest, taken from the book "Walking After Midnight"

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