A Letter from Erin Engstrom
While I was walking my dog I thought of one other event that you may not know about from the day of Quinn’s service. My heart is telling me that I was meant to meet you last night at Conscious Divas to connect with you and share this story. I meant to do it earlier, but I guess it didn’t happen because we were destined to meet now. My kids are in a swim club, and we were at a regional swim meet at Ron Andrews pool on Mount Seymour Parkway the same day as Quinn’s memorial at Cap College. While hundreds of people were gathering to attend Quinn’s Celebration of Life, I was down the street in a very lively place. There were hundreds of people at the pool and the atmosphere can only be explained as loud, crowded and chaotic. The pool deck are crammed with kids aged 5-19, cheering parents, whistles and starter guns are blaring every 90 seconds, water is splashing and everyone is a bit ‘hot and tired’. Then something incredible happened.
One of the young coaches from a swim club heard about Quinn and suggested that they have a moment of silence at 11:00am to honour Quinn and your family. Given the chaos of the swim meet and the number of young kids from all over the lower mainland, one would think that this would be an impossible task. A short announcement came over the PA simply saying ‘we would like to pause the meet for a minute of silence to honour Quinn Keast”. The mood shifted and it was like the energy went out in the building. In less than 30 seconds, adults and children alike stood still with their heads down, the water in the pool was calm and there was complete silence. You could have heard a pin drop. It was an overwhelmingly moving moment. It was so quiet and peaceful. Many people were holding hands or hugging their wet children wrapped in soggy swim towels. It felt like the crowd was sending their love, peaceful energy and light to help Quinn, your family and friends move forward in your darkest hour.
The pool was filled with parents and athletes of all ages and ethnicities, but and we all felt a connection to your family. It is every parent’s worst nightmare and although most of us had never met you or Quinn, we all felt your pain. It still makes me teary when I think about it. It was a very beautiful moment and it changed the entire atmosphere of the remainder of the swim meet. We were no longer different swim clubs in a competition, but a community. People were softer and the experience had brought us closer to one another.
I’m sure that there were other, similar moments that you do not know about, but I hope that you felt the loving energy that was flowing your way from the community. I still don’t know which teenager stepped forward to request the moment of silence, but it demonstrates the kind of leadership that I believe Quinn is remembered for.
As I mentioned to you last night, my son Samuel was honoured with the Quinn Keast Award for the Grade 8 Gold basketball team last June. He is a gifted and dedicated athlete in many sports (primarily hockey, waterpolo and soccer). Many of his coaches over the years have commented how ‘coachable’ Samuel is and that he role model for leadership, hard work and fair play. Samuel has a room full of trophies, medals, certificates and ribbons from various sports, but Quinn’s award is the one that he values the most as is most proud of winning. The awards night came at a difficult time for our family, and it was the uplifting experience that we all needed. Samuel continues to live in the spirit in which Quinn’s award is intended. Although several years have passed and you adopt coping mechanisms, I appreciate the hole in your heart never gets smaller. I feel inspired that you have done more than find the strength to make it through each day, but you are making a difference in the lives of others. You are a leader and I know that Quinn would be proud of how you and Jamie continue to move forward and bring light to others in their dark times.