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Sgt. Ryan Russell Funeral Procession

Funeral procession (09)
Image by Paul Henman via Flickr

Thanks to constant media exposure to all the tragedies in our world I am unable to go a single day without some news of loss of life.  There are reports of floods, massacres, famines, homicides, accidents, drownings, earthquakes, domestic violence, drunk drivers… and the list goes on.  I guess it’s a good thing that we are not wired to be emotionally touched by each and every incident or our lives would be riddled with unending sorrow.  However, we ARE wired usually to connect when we observe or share in the grief of others who are forced to deal with the loss of a loved one.  Such was the case today when I chose to watch the televised funeral service of Sgt. Ryan Russell of the Toronto Police force.

Throughout the broadcast there were many moments that tugged at the heartstrings and brought tears running down my cheeks.  The parts that most left their impression were: the friend who composed and performed a song in his honour, the K.D. Lang version of “Hallelujah” played during the photo montage, and of course the moment when his widow addressed all those in attendance.  A surge of sympathy welled up in me each time and I joined with the thousands who mourned his loss but appreciated his life.  He was a complete stranger but he lived an exemplary life and inspired me, at least in the moment, to be a better more selfless person.

Almost a week ago Sgt. Russell was serving his city when he lost his life trying to stop an individual who had stolen a snow plow.  It was a moment he could not have possibly foreseen when he woke up that morning to leave for work.  But then, we were not designed with the option of knowing our own futures… and that is a blessing.  A song by Garth Brooks called, “The Dance” comes to mind as my thoughts flow.  Sgt. Russell lived in such a way that proves our lives are not “left to chance” as the song speaks of; rather he lived purposefully to bring out the good in others with whom he came into contact.  Yet, despite the dangers that came with his profession he never missed the joy of the dance.

Today Toronto mourned the loss of one of her sons but consoled each other with the example that was his life.  May we all endeavour to live in such a way as to inspire our friends & family, neighbours and strangers, and even those who stand opposed to our values.

Clay McLeod

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