Keeragh Robertson has come full circle.
My name is Keeragh Robertson and I am a past participant at Seasons Centre. I first joined the Centre when I was 13 after losing my dad to soft tissue cancer.
Like all little girls, my dad was my hero. He was brave and strong, and I thought he was invincible. When I lost him, I was scared and confused. It didn’t seem real. My last memory was saying goodbye in the hospital. He looked so small and fragile. He didn’t look like the big strong man I knew. I told him that it was okay to let go, that he didn’t need to keep fighting, that he didn’t have to hurt anymore. I promised him that I would take care of everyone, just as he always had.
After he was gone I felt isolated, like I was lost at sea.I couldn’t find a way to honour my promise to him. I spent too much time alone, I didn’t want to see anyone or do anything. I was depressed and angry, and afraid of losing anyone else. That was when I found Seasons. Even to this day, I remember how warm Seasons was, how safe it made me feel, in a time where I had forgotten what safety felt like. But I was nervous joining my first group, afraid my feelings wouldn’t be validated, and that I would stay out at sea.
I was wrong. Seasons was, and is, a safe harbor for hundreds of kids who have lost a loved one. Sitting in group, and knowing that each of those faces staring back at me had felt the same loss made it easier to share my own experience. They were kind, and patient, and let me work through things in whatever way made sense.
Even though I was in the teen group, we would go upstairs and play in the ball pit and in the volcano room. We could work out the anger and frustration that had built up over a week. We could forget about our loss for a while.
I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but one day, the grief was less. It stopped feeling as if I was left out at sea, and that I had found my way into shore. Because of this, when the next person joined our group, I was able to help them grieve in the same way my group had helped me. We built a community; formed by our loss, but built on our understanding for each other. Through this, we were able to honour our loved ones, and help each other grieve.
While at Seasons Centre, I found myself wanting to do more. I wanted to help as many kids get through this process as possible, to show them that their worst days could be behind them too. I began to volunteer as a buddy with the Siblings and Friends children’s group.
During this time, I saw a different face of grief. Every aspect of the children’s play was geared towards understanding what had happened to their loved ones. They would play doctor, and never be able to save a patient. They would throw balls around the pit with an energy and aggression that seemed too large to contain. Sometimes, they would be quiet and sit in a corner to reflect. They were open in their grief, and constantly shared aspects of their experience.
After I graduated from high school, my time at Season’s Centre came to an end. I moved out of Barrie for a while, but the Centre still stayed with me. When anyone would ask about my dad, I would tell them how losing him and brought me to Seasons, and how I was so grateful to have it in my life. When I moved back home to Barrie, I felt the need to get involved again. With a college schedule, it didn’t seem like I was going to be able to volunteer as a buddy, so I decided to pursue other avenues, which is what led me here today.
I am now able to help Seasons in a different way, through a placement role with the Development office. Through my experiences at Seasons, I have come to understand how vital it is to the community and to those who utilize the services. I am proud to be able to honour my father by giving back to Seasons, so that they may continue to help those in need.