Goodbye, my friend

by / 0 Comments / 0 View / February 11, 2013

Last month, Dora and I went to Henriette’s funeral in Bowmanville. We arrived 20 minutes early and the church was already packed. So many people were affected by the tragedy of Henriette’s very sudden passing. My friend Henriette was someone that I had been working out with for the past seven years. The last time I saw her was Christmas Eve when she attended my morning bootcamp class. She told me she was going away on vacation on Christmas day with her Sister. They were going down south on a cruise. I remember thinking how strange it was for Henriette to go south. She was always going away on ski trips.

While at the beach bodysurfing, Henriette was slammed by a huge wave. The power of the wave smashed the top of her head into the bottom of the shore. She was only in waist-high water. The force broke her second vertebra and she likely died then. Two friends on the vacation pulled her from the water. There were four doctors that happened to be vacationing on the same beach that day that tended to her immediately. They were able to keep her blood flowing until an ambulance arrived and took her to the hospital. Four days later she was airlifted to Florida. She went into cardiac arrest there and was resuscitated. It was just over two weeks before she could be moved home to Canada. She was brought to Hamilton General where all her family could be around. Her heart stopped again on that trip.

Henriette’s first two nights in Canada saw her struggling to breathe. Her lungs had been so badly injured by the sand and seawater and the oxygen changes associated with her flight, that breath was a struggle for her. The night before she chose to have

her life support machines turned off she had a dream. She shared that dream with her family. Henriette said she spoke with God in her dream. She said her mother, who had passed away a few years prior, was also there. Henriette said that God told her to come home. She was happy. She was ready to leave her broken body. There was something more for her than this. Henriette died last weekend with her family around her. When her family asked her how she felt about her life, she said, “It was perfect!” She left us all with the message that we should “go for broke!”

Making some sense of death is so difficult. All we can think is “Why?” Why did this happen to her? If you knew Henriette, you would know how wonderful a person she was. Why would a person like this be taken away while she was just at the beach having fun? The entire month I found myself saying this over and over again. Why did this happen to her? Yesterday I got some of my answers.

I spoke to a few people at the funeral. Her employer, Domenic Mattina, was actually a client of mine before Henriette was. I met Henriette because he brought me to his work place to help him set up a gym and to get his staff into a health and wellness lifestyle. Domenic had a baby girl the day after Henriette died. He gave the baby the middle name Henriette.

Judy Eaton, who became best friends with Henriette at our club, talked about running the bay race with Henriette’s name and number. Judy has been a runner for 30 years. This year she will be running the race for Henriette.

Another co-worker of Henriette will be running the 5k Around the Bay Race this year. She has never run before. Inspired because Henriette was always

encouraging her to run, she has now decided to participate in the race. She told me this year she would run the 5k and next year she would complete the whole race!

The reason why something like this happens is so different for everyone. So many people are affected when a tragedy happens. It inspires people to do different things. It sends a message to people to live to their fullest. We must always look for the rainbow in everything. The church was packed yesterday. So many people were affected by the life of my friend. I’m sure the stories of what her life and this tragedy meant will continue forever. Henriette’s life may be gone but her spirit seems to be even stronger now!

The only sense I can make out of this death is that death is just a change of state. Yes we have lost our friend, but her life touched, inspired, will change so many. We cry for our loss but must recognize that Henriette must have gained from this transition. She was too wonderful a lady for anything less.

Asking the question “Why is this happening to me?” is, in fact, a real problem. You may never know the answer of why something is happening. Perhaps five years later you will be able to see what it has done for you over time, but then again, you may never really know why something has happened to you.

Living a successful life means being well physically, mentally and spiritually. Being happy means aligning your thoughts and actions with your goals. Whatever your circumstances are, it’s critical to avoid simply asking “Why?” and start thinking about what you’re going to do about them! Take action. That’s why this is happening! Something out there that’s greater than you wants for you to take action!

Instead of dwelling on the negative question of why something may have happened, take a simple first step with a new thought action.

Here is a very simple thought solution to apply immediately to whatever is going on in your life right now. Read the following line and think on it deeply. Say it out loud if you have to. Think it and say it again and again until your subconscious takes ahold of it!

The life in me is undoubtedly connected to all the life that exists. It is entirely devoted to my personal advancement.

Saying and thinking this over and over again will help you to step forward knowing that you are safe and in control. Take a step forward and people, situations and opportunities will arise. We all have the power to change our circumstances!

I am so grateful to have know you Henriette! So many have been inspired by this tragedy.

Henriette will live forever in my life.


JOHN DePASS is a lifetime athlete and a certified personal trainer for 20 years. He grew up in Hamilton, attending McMaster University where he studied physical education and psychology. With 27 years weight training experience, John has studied boxing, martial arts, yoga and is a Tai Chi master. He opened his first private training studio in Hamilton 15 years ago and now owns and operates a brand new 5,000 sq ft private training centre on Plains Rd in Aldershot. A licensed meditation instructor, John’s passion lies in motivation, success, and helping people. hiendfitness.com.

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