I don’t go in for public grieving. Candlelight vigils, marches, group gatherings to show support – those are not my thing. I cringe at the memory of unexpectedly and uncontrollably ugly crying all over myself at a colleague’s funeral. But I get it. It’s about grieving in the company of others who know your pain. It’s also about showing support in numbers to those close to the bereaved, to let them know they’re not alone.
The recent shooting on Toronto’s busy Danforth Avenue had an effect on me for being close to home, both literally and figuratively. It happened right were I do yoga. I ride by there on my way to work. Recently, my daughter went for dessert in one of the shops in front of which one of the young victims was gunned down. It could have been her. It could have been me.
But thankfully, it wasn’t. Due to merciless randomness, it turned out to be 2 young people, one a 10 year-old girl from Markham, Julianna Kozis, and the other, 18 year-old Reese Fallon, a girl who lived in my neighbourhood. She would have served me deli meats at my local grocery store (even though, I’ve since learned, she was vegan). She just graduated from the highschool my daughter will likely go to, and went to all the same schools as her when she was younger. Like I said, very close to home.
When one of the parents from my kid’s school, Anthony Parise, reached out for ideas on how we could help the family, I was at a loss. What could we possibly do to make even the smallest dent in the mountain of grief being experienced by those poor people? By now, several GoFundMe accounts have been set up, with targets already surpassed. I wanted a way for people to express what they are feeling and connect with the family to let them know that they are with them.
DearFallonFamily.com invites people–anyone and everyone–to write a letter to the Fallons. The letters will be printed and bound in a book, to be presented by Anthony, who is a close family friend and had been one of Reese’s favourite teachers. By reading the messages, many of them memories of Reese, but also sentiments from people who never met her, near and far, the hope is that in time, the family will feel comfort in knowing that many are with them, they are not alone, and their lovely girl will not be forgotten.