Hi everyone! My name is Erika Power. I am in my last semester of high school and will be going into Education next fall at the University of Regina. I play ringette in Saskatoon which keeps me busy and I also coached a u10 ringette team this winter.
After a couple days of contemplating on what to write I decided to pick a couple of super important things I have learned over the past year. I thought about writing about how I found out about the accident but every time I talk about it, it makes my heart feel pretty heavy so I thought I would share some of my favourite memories that I have with Layne instead.
I met Layne when I was 15 years old at an SJHL showcase. He played on the Prince Albert Mintos at the time, so he was only about 45 minutes away from Warman where I’m from. After making trips back and forth we eventually started dating on November 28th 2016. Throughout our relationship we have always been doing long distance. He went from Prince Albert, back home to Colonsay, to Medicine Hat and then to Humboldt. Distance was never a problem for us, he quickly became my best friend and we always put the effort in to make it work which really made all the difference. When I think back on our relationship it is hard to pick my favourite memory but if I had to pick one it would have to be our long walk at the lake. It was in April or May when it is still too cold to do anything In our Saskatchewan weather so we decided to go for a walk and we walked and talked about everything and anything, by the time we got back to the cabin we were gone for 5 hours. That is a day that I always look back on and see so clearly. One that just makes my heart happy.
It was always easy, he walked into a room and made everyone in it happy, he still does today. It is crazy to think it has already been a year. Most days it still doesn’t seem real but I have come to the conclusion that even if you eventually learn to live with it, it is still something that will never stop hurting. I spent everyday at the hospital for 4 months and I feel very grateful that I got to be there to see Layne make all the incredible progress that he did but with the good times came a countless amount of hard times. Seeing someone you love and care about in a hospital bed knowing all you can do is hold their hand is tough. When Layne was still in a coma the first few weeks were the hardest. I remember every time I would go in and see him, I would talk to him which usually ended with me having a good cry. Then one of his nurses told me that he can hear everything I was telling him. That’s when I decided that I was going to be strong for him because if he knew I was crying right now he would tell me “Erika seriously it’s going to be okay” but since he couldn’t tell me that, I told myself. He was going to be okay. The days all clumped together but I remember the big milestones so clearly, the first time we got to take him outside, the first time I saw his eyes open, the first time he squeezed my hand, the little things that gave me so much hope during such a difficult time. His strength really did keep everyone going and that hasn’t changed a year later.
With Layne’s main injury being a brain injury, he has a different personality than before but he never fails to surprise me. His sense of humour is still the same, he is still the same hard working guy I have always known, the same guy that still knows how to make anyone smile . He is someone who will forever hold a piece of my heart no matter where life takes either of us. In about November I was at PBR in the city and they did a nice tribute to Layne. I went to go see him at the end and while I was standing with him a lady came up to us and asked for a picture. I asked Layne if that was okay and he said yes so I took a picture of them and she told me how happy her son was going to be to see it. In that moment I felt happy for Layne, to see that big smile on his face. I just could not help but think, if only that lady really knew how incredible Layne is. He is not just a hockey player or a survivor, he is a person who puts others first. From the time I met Layne at 15 that’s something that has never changed. He is always willing to go that extra step to help others. I remember when Layne first got to Humboldt and right way he was already volunteering to take kids trick or treating after school and spending hours colouring with his billet sister. It’s things like that. I wish people could see first hand instead of only hearing, that these special people are more than just broncos and hockey players because even though thats what their lives revolved around they are so much more than that.
Lastly, what I have taken from of this past year is to be better. A better team mate, a better listener, a better driver, a better person. I think you can be a part of a tragedy like this and you can let it break you in every way possible or you can take something like this and let it help you grow. There are going to be times in your life where you think nothing will ever be right again and in those moments is when it’s the most important thing to take care of yourself even if it is the hardest thing to do. I have people in my life who have made this past year bearable and I have had people looking in from the outside, who haven’t lived a day in my shoes telling me how to handle a situation you could never in a million years be prepared for. It is so important to always remember that you really have no idea what anybody is going through. Let’s use this to make us better, let’s drive safer, let’s love more, let’s be nicer than necessary. Life is so unpredictable. Let’s be the best versions of ourselves.