The news of the Humboldt hockey team tragedy was a hard hit to most Canadians. Nothing taps our collective passion quite like hockey, and the expanse of our country disappears when we come together. It’s impossible to feel unchanged by this traumatic event.

As the hockey parent of a Midget AAA player and a billet mom for professional baseball, the crushing grief was a surprise because although I didn’t know these kids, I feel a deep familiarity. My husband and I decided to become billet parents a couple of years ago. Looking forward, we expected that our son would likely billet one day and we wanted to have context for the experience for him as well as us. One of the unexpected aspects of this was how quickly strong the bond to my billet sons was. At all hours, you are prepping food and getting ready for bus trips. The cultural experience of the parental support of an athlete is universal.

For parents of high-performance athletes there comes the emotional roller coaster: winning the game, losing the tournament, making the team, getting cut, it’s the best day, or it is another day.

And with this event, much perspective. My heart breaks for these boys with so much promise. I am immeasurably sad for their families, for their loss that nothing can replace. We feel this; to be a junior hockey player in Canada is the very soul of our national identity.

Hockey requires complete commitment. The early hours, the late hours, the long drives and the bus drives are the stuff of lore. It comes with the territory. Behind every player, there is a supportive family. With every player, a solid team fraternity; time spent travelling heightens this connection.

The hockey players that I know who have excelled to junior are dedicated and remarkable people. The determination that it takes to develop high-level athletic skill and the pointed focus often sharpens in other ways, turning out leaders with multiple gifts. Consistent with this, personalities of the Broncos players and the staff have started to emerge through stories.

Each was a bright star. By now, you have likely heard the story of Logan Boulet who had signed an organ donor card weeks ago and saved lives as he lost his own. On Twitter, the younger brother of Stephen Wack shared one of his brother’s videos that he spent “hours and hours” making. His video work depicts a vivid embrace of life and serves as a poignant reminder to live every moment to the fullest. As a creative professional, I marvel at the raw and prodigious talent showcased in this video work and I am struck again by the magnitude of loss.

Today, the nation and the hockey community continue to grieve. On Thursday, April 12th I will be wearing a jersey to show my support for the Humboldt Broncos. Participating helps us to process and if you are feeling like you want to help, the GoFund Me link is here. Live in the moment, cheer a little louder, and when you see your loved ones hug them just because.