Reality Check



My day was supposed to be over a little after noon today, but as I dropped off my last client, the office asked me if I could do one more run at 2 o’clock. Being the team player that I am, I said I would. I had 90 minutes to drive back to our company lot, switch into a van and then go to the pickup. Plenty of time to stop for some lunch and mess around on my phone. Piece of cake.

After making the vehicle change, sucking down my lunch, and washing it down with a Coke Zero, I proceeded to my pickup location, a full 40 minutes ahead of schedule. I am a happy chauffeur……….for the moment. I locate the residence that I need to be at, but being that the pickup is at 2, and it is only 1:20, I park a couple blocks away, per usual, and pickup my phone to check Facebook and do some surfing.

First check of Facebook is littered with numerous comments and links about the tragic plane crash in Russia. 40+ people dead. NHL players, past and present, coaches, prospects and flight crew. Very sad news. I had been reading and hearing about it, off and on, all day. The ramifications reaching virtually all parts of the hockey world, and in less than 5 minutes, ME.

After my Facebook pit stop, I open up the trip ticket info on my phone, to see who I am picking up. Aaaah, another transfer to the airport for a member of the local pro hockey team. That explains the van. These hockey guys always have big bags because they are usually traveling overseas. The last name is one I don’t recognize. I’ll have to google him.

The rush that comes over my body is unexplainable. I am just staring at my phone. He was on “that” plane and he is dead. I am sitting 200 yards from his house and I realize what this pickup is all about. I am about to pick up the family of this man. A family that went to bed last night without a care in the world. A family that had no plans to board a Lufthansa flight to Europe when they woke up this morning. This explains why it was added to my schedule at 12:15 today. Is this for real?

It’s finally time to go down the street and pull in the driveway. Within a couple of minutes, a man comes out to let me know that the family will be out in a few moments. He alerts me to the situation, and tells me not to offer condolences because the children don’t know anything, and then he returns to the house. I can’t even imagine what his widow must be going through. My heart weeps for her. I am so glad this will be a short ride.

Then it happens. 2 girls, about 2 and 5 come running out the door, completely elated about the trip they are about to go on. Long blonde hair, blue eyes and giant smiles. I nearly burst into tears. My body gets tight. Every second feels like an eternity. The pain inside me is almost unbearable. I don’t even know these people and I am on the verge of a breakdown, right in their driveway. Knowing that these girls are utterly oblivious, to the true nature of their trip, is agonizing. I can’t help but think of my own children, and what it would be like if they woke up tomorrow and I was gone forever. Devastating! The wife and mother in law finally come out and we are on our way.

The entire drive, the widow is on the phone. She, as well as the rest of the family, are not speaking English. Although, this would seem trivial, it is not. I don’t understand a single word she is saying, but the pure pain in her voice tells the whole story. The mother in law is keeping the kids entertained in the back of the van, while she sits up front and seems to be getting everything in order, over the phone. I sense sorrow, trepidation, confusion, and despair. Just a few of, what I imagine have been, the many emotions that she has experienced since she woke up today. Again, my heart weeps for her.

We finally arrive at the airport, and a liaison from Lufthansa is waiting curbside for us, with a security escort. He “quietly” offers his condolences to the widow while the girls are still getting out of the van. Personnel grab all their bags, and they are off. Girls still giddy about the trip. I however, am a mess.

I barely get 100 feet away from the terminal when I lose it, crying uncontrollably. I feel stupid, but I don’t care. I can’t get the image of those girls out of my head. The idea that they have no clue that they will NEVER see their father again. What’s worse, is that they probably haven’t seen him in a couple of weeks, and expect to see him when they get where they’re going. Utterly heartbreaking. What a way to end the day.

So, as I sit here recapping this gut-wrenching afternoon that I have experienced, I can’t help but realize that it makes no difference to a child what happens to you when you die. They are going to be devastated either way. Just make sure they know what they mean to you. Remind them EVERYDAY. Hug them EVERYDAY. Kiss them EVERYDAY. Most importantly, love them EVERYDAY. Unconditionally. Because, you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Published by jwc

Just my thoughts on whatever has my attention.

266 thoughts on “Reality Check

    1. WOW! This was a great read and you should not feel stupid for caring about someone else. Even thought you may not of known anyone on that plane you still have a sad heart because you know what awaits those little fatherless girls.

      Losing my father at the age of seven I have an understanding what these girls might go through. Fathers day, faother son/daughter days, and it hurts a lot.

      When my mother received the call that my father had passed away my mother was crying on the phone and I started cying because my mother was. It hurts the heart to know that this family has had their life changed in the blink of an eye.

      Thanks for sharing you story with us.

    2. A shame you felt you had to remove it. I so wanted to read what you had to say, especially after seeing what others had to say.

      Please email me through facebook, if you would consider sending it that way.

      Thank you.

  1. Makes me extra glad I stayed up last night to help Alicia finish her summer reading assignment. Life is too short and we never know when it will come to an end.

  2. So sad! It’s also sad that we don’t realize this until something bad happens and tend to take every moment for granteed never realizing how precious each day and moment is ;-(

    1. right. i was off rails anyway when I heard of the crash. but this piece of yours hit me right in the nuts. you _CAN_ write, that’s something positive I can say to you.

      In an hour as dark as this for the hockey family all over the world, I hope people read what wou wrote and allow their emotions. that would be good. I guess. I dunno.

    2. It`s not a story. it`s a reality.
      And Skrastins was one of the most popular and very loved hockey team player in Latvia.
      it`s tragic…

      1. I’m from Latvia and we still can’t believe in this.. we’re big fans of ice-hockey & Skrastins was our idol,”iron man”…. anyway.. this tragedy, we all new that Great shuldn’t be like this..too hard..
        take care everyone for U’r family..U see – one moment & that’s all.. forever…

  3. its a horrible thing, im fortunate in the respect i havent suffered much loss in my life, but there are truly people there wives and other family and friends that knew each person on that plane personally….such pain, and it does put things in perspective.i can only imagine how the people at cantor fitzgerald feel.

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  5. This is a truly beautiful post, but you might want to consider removing the names. As much as it’s clear that you’re intentions are good, this seems like a pretty major violation of someone’s privacy during an incredibly personal time. All you’d have to do is refrain from using her name, and this very worthwhile read would feel much less… intrusive. Just a thought. But again, beautifully written.

  6. Thank you for posting this. Could not read it without shading a few tears. Made me also instantly think of my 10 months old son. All the best for you and of course for Skrastins family and unborn child. I wish the teams and the league will take care the wrecked families that are left behind after this devastating accident.

  7. Тяжело…Я к хоккею неравнодушен….Руслан мой земляк, кумир….одни слезы.
    Победы, награды, медали, взлеты….
    Руслан ты взлетел, но на родине и в Локомотиве останешься в основном составе.

      1. Руслан Салей, игрок сборной Белоруссии, игравший за Локомотив и летевший в этот трагический день в Минск, чтобы играть у себя на родине…

  8. Wow, so gut wrenching. I cannot imagine how you held it in check. Thank you for sharing your connection to this horrible tragedy.

    1. I agree to you
      I don’t watch hockey, but my parents love hockey and our Latvian team ”Dinamo Riga”
      This is tragedy for all hockey world ;(
      Thank you for this story
      R.I.P Lokomotiv yaroslavl

  9. Very touching story. Skratch was one of my favorite D men. Thank you for sharing, I can’t imagine what these families are going through.

  10. So sad… I`m from land where Skrastins become.. I`m his fan.. It is so sad.. Can`t believe that it happened.. Still crying.. Your story was so.. so amazing, so hearthbreaking.. thanks..
    And the widow is waiting for third children.. Hope, she is strong woman..

  11. I’m from Latvia. Skrastins and his family also are latvians. And yesterday even sky was crying for this tragedy (was raining all day long)
    We won’t forget who has gone, but, yes, lets love those who are together with us everyday!

    Thanks for the story!

  12. R.I.P. Kārlis Skrastiņš 07.07.1974. – 07.09.2011. Thanks for the post! He was one of the best hockey player – Iron Man, captain of Latvia national team. My prayers are with his and all other player families.

  13. The saddest part is that the widow is waiting for the third child. He will grow up never knowing who his father was and what kind of legend he was while he was alive. 😦

  14. Crazy, stupid, shocking tragedy..

    And after realizing it is touching so many destinies and families, like Skrastins and other players, friends, it is even more shocking and emotionally disturbing.. unbelievably painful

    Appreciate your insight very much, and a call for Reality Check..

  15. …his widow is pregnant…hope, baby will be he wanted…my heart bleed for her and their children…but he will be with them forever…and he will be forever in latvians hearts…it`s devastating…but we are with them in our thoughts..sorrow and mourning….no words..

  16. Breathtaking…people who don’t know them are in tears…Karlis Skrastins is our national hero, a super nice Latvian guy, that’s how we will remember him! My deepest condolences to family.

  17. I cried as well while reading this.
    He was one of the most brightest ice-hockey players in Latvia. He smiled in every interview, he always said “hi”, if You saw him on the street in Latvia and said “wow, its Karlis Skrastins”.

    I can’t imagine, how his wife is suffering. I remember some games, when she was in the arene with a sign, saying: “No one’s perfect but Skrastins”.

    The tragic plane crash is an unbelievable loss to all the families and to the all ice-hockey fans in the whole world.

  18. I am from Latvia and Karlis Skrastins was one of the best hockey players our country has ever had. My prayers are with all the KHL hocky team, their friends and family. Such a terrible tragedy!

  19. Thank you for heartbreaking story from Latvia!

    This is so tragic.
    In loving memory…
    RIP Karlis Skrastins

    All country is crying.

  20. Yes, this was our best player in Latvia! Our Iron-man! R.I.P. to Karlis Skrastins.

    And last information, that wife is pregnant with third baby! It is very sad story!

  21. more than heartbreaking… his wife is expecting their third baby and it just makes my heart break, can’t stop crying. he’s a legend- Iron Man-, but what’s even more he was a good person, even the people who didn’t have the possibility to meet him feel like they’ve lost someone very dear… thanks for sharing!

  22. Skrastins was our Iron Man.. God. It’s just so sad ;(;(
    I heard that his wife is pregnant. It means, that those two girls will be without father, but their sibling won’t even have seen him alive… I hope that’s only a rumor about this pregnancy, cause they already have enough troubles … This is just heartbreaking ;(

  23. Thank U so much 4 this post…this means a lot for us…
    That guy – Karlis Skrastins – our iron man -one of the best ice hocky players, will live in our latvian hearts 4 EVER!!!
    R.I.P #7

  24. Sad story… Karlis Skrastins in this season was one of the member of KHL (Russian hockey league) team LOKOMOTIV, which yesterday died in airplane crash. His wife Zane now is going to the place where plane was crashed down… Karlis was from Latvia and all Latvia now is crying… ;(

  25. This story is now all over Latvia as the hockey player Kārlis Skrastiņš comes from here. We got to know this while we were at university. And it seemed as something so unbelievable… Thank you for posting it.
    My condolences to all families that have lost their beloved ones in this tragedy..

      1. This was a touching reminder of just how fragile life is and how quickly it can change. Your post was very thoughtful and respectful. I appreciate you posting it and I am glad I got to read it before you had to take it down. My daughter appreciates it too since she got an extra long hug tonight when I got home.

      2. Hi Jeff, as you must already realize, your story was nothing short of amazing. It’s a shame you had to remove it. Not sure if you were asked by someone to remove it, but if it was your decision, I ask that you reconsider and give others the opportunity to read it. Based on all the comments here, I think it touched everyone who read it. I don’t see how it would be considered disrespectful or hurtful to the family, unless I’m missing something.

        What happened to those on the plane was oh-so-sad, and what their friends and familes must be going through now is inconceivable to me. Your story showed me a very small yet realistic glimpse of what they are going through.

        Congratulations on a well-written story that I may never forget. I wish I could read it again.

      3. I share others’ disappointment in your choice to take down this blog, but respect your decision. Tried to show my husband and son, but found it was taken down. I cried when I told them the story. I had been reading about this tragedy for a couple of days and this brought it home for me. I texted my daughter randomly today that I love her and am proud of her, and she responded with “ok…but why are you saying that?” That teaches me that I need to say it much, much more. Thank you for that.

      4. I read your account earlier today. Very poignant. I’m also in the transportation service and understand the need for confidentiality, especially with high-end clients.

        God bless you and all the Lokomotiv famlies.

      5. I’m so glad the story is online again! Screw the “politics” or the unfounded fear of a company about which nobody cares much! Liberty of expression must win. This post is a piece of Art and must be read by as many people as possible!

        I have been personally very moved by the tragedy and that story somehow help me to process my feelings through. I’m very thankful for that article.

        Longue vie à ‘Reality Check’ !

      6. Jeff – thank you for the post. It is too bad about the reason(s) you chose to remove it, but I respect your decision. I look forward to reading your blog for more well-written items. And may all the people affected by this tragedy find peace.

      7. I just read the piece that was cached on another site.

        I have to say two things.

        First, you should be ashamed of the voyeuristic and intrusive piece. It was absolutely no different from a paparazzo sitting in the bushes, capturing a picture of a family dealing with grief. Actually, it was worse. Worse, because you were a trusted service provider tasked with performing a job for the family and you betrayed that trust.

        At the very minimum, you should have been severely reprimanded (is that why you took the post down?). Your actions were certainly deserving of dismissal. You are lucky that you still hold your job.

        Second, you boast about it in your next post, but it was not especially well written. Do not confuse popular with well written. Certainly do not assume it’s popularity was due to the writing. It makes me especially sad that it appears the message you took out of this posting, was that you are an excellent writer. That may actually be true, but that’s not what the takeaway from this should be.

        You wrote an intrusive piece of gossip that plays on the worst voyeuristic tendencies of today’s society. You violated the privacy of a grieving family and you shared it publicly. People’s morbid curiosity was what caused it to spread like wildfire.

        The well-intentioned and undoubtably touching message at the very end to hold life dear was a nice little bow on a pile of tripe. It served more to provide an excuse for the morbid gossips to share the article widely without feeling the pangs of guilt from participating in the intrusion.

        Had you posted only how you reacted to the tragedy, with that great message, but without the violation of exposing the raw, private grief of the family, you’d have had my respect, but you’d have had none of the exposure that your subsequent post “Reality, Chick” boasts so proudly of.

      8. I guess I’m not afraid to post your comments after all. Although, I will say, I find it funny that your self righteousness basically minimizes the opinions of the other 150,000 people who read it and were moved by it. I certainly had no idea that the post would be read by any more than 30 of my closest friends, but since it was, I did what needed to be done by taking it down. I am glad that it gave you the forum to let the world know how much better a person you are than the rest of us. Know one thing. I can’t take back what has already happened, or where it is available elsewhere, but the only way that the post will go back up on MY page is if the family gives me permission to do it.

      9. I’m very sorry that your takeaway from my comment was any sort of message of “I’m better than you”.

        It’s also interesting to see what you read into my preference not to provide you with any personal information, such as my email, in light of the complete disregard to privacy that you’ve shown and still stand behind.

      10. You are the only person that had a problem with this story.
        Just wanted to thank you, for ruining it for the rest of us.

      11. I was unable to read your post, but I would like to thank you for sharing your experiences in relation to the death of Karlis Skrastians.

        Unfortunately, I did not know Karlis particularly well, but I had the privilege of meeting the Skreasrian family many times at the Giorgio Armani boutique in Dallas, where I worked and Karlis shopped. I remember Karlis was always always extremely kind, patient and polite, often going out of his way to smile at you and tell you hello, thank you, and good bye. I will never forget Karlis, he was a true gentleman and my prayers are with his lovely wife and daughters.

        Kind regards

      12. I hope you don’t get in trouble for sharing your story. i realized you didn’t reveal the name but just the City and airport, it’s not hard to figure out if you are a fan! I am a hockey wife, who’s husband’s played in Russia for 4 seasons and I have been there countless times and I really appreciated your blog because it is reality! Hugs, Lisa

  26. Thank you for sharing this! This is a heartbreaking thing and a national sorrow here in Latvia. Your post gives me a comforting feeling that Karlis family is given all possible support. They have tough months and years ahead. Thank you!

  27. Sorry for rubbing the salt into the wound, but she is pregnant with their third child… This is so sad! 😦

  28. I can only echo BReynolds, thank you for sharing that; the news doesn’t always hit so close to home.

  29. This was heartbreaking. We all feel terrible about what happened to one of our best hockey players ever, and more importantly what his family has to go through now.

  30. Thank you for sharing it.
    While reading it, similar thoughts have crossed my mind as well.
    We will never know, what the next day might bring us …
    Paldies! Thank you (in Latvian)

  31. I almost cried reading… 😦
    These 2 past days I can’t get this out of my head. Skrastins seemed like a really great guy and just thinking what his family feels right now is just…

  32. Your closing comments were pretty spot on. This is sort of related but my son was an extreme hockey player and fan. He passed away in July at the age of 24 leaving his family devastated and lost. The afternoon of his death, he hugged me and told me that he loved me and I never realized that a few hours later he would be gone forever. My point is that you can never know so make every moment count and tell the ones you love everyday that you love them as they are completely.

    1. Hey, Michael,

      Your story is also very sad. And it proves again, that we never expect things like that, and that we are too busy to spare a moment for all our beloved ones…

  33. I cried. Yet again. Thank you for sharing this.
    Skrastins was Latvian, so am I.
    He was our Iron Man. Great captain of our National Hockey Team for years.
    Very friendly and open person.
    My good friend surprisingly met Karlis Skrastins at gym for about 2 years ago. He was on his summer vacation, keeping him on shape. As my friend told, they had nice chat about NHL insides, about hockey, about Latvian National Hockey Team for about 20-30 minutes… Imagine, what this episode tells about Karlis as person. To talk to a stranger for about half an hour…
    R.I.P. ….
    Thoughts and prayers for Skrastins and all involved families…
    World will greatly miss and remember them.

  34. Thank you for sharing your story. All our nation is crying together with his family.
    Karlis Skarstins’ wife is pregnant with third baby. He really wanted a son…

  35. Karlis Skrastins was one of the best ice-hockey player in Latvia and Rest of the Europe. His nickname was The Iron Man, not only because he got this tittle in NHL, but by his hard work and persistence on the both sides of Ice-hockey field…
    This is a immeasurable loss to my country Latvia and all of the ice-hockey world…
    Thank you for sharing your experience with K. Skrastins family. It was really touching, heartbreaking and devastating to read it…

  36. Thank you for sharing this. Your are a million percent right with your last paragraph. Every night I’m feeling too tired to read a book or sing that extra song to my girls, I look at the pictures on the wall of people we’ve lost too soon and remember we don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. Always give them that extra five minutes.

  37. I don’t usually comment on random blogs that I come across, but I found this post you’ve written through Twitter, where it must be trending to the point of stressing your server by now. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that your post was one of most well-written, eloquent, thoughtful, and gut-wrenching pieces I’ve ever come across. I am a die-hard NHL fan like you, and you’ve brought a perspective to this horrible tragedy that was, at the very least, worthy of the utmost praise by some random dude like me, for whatever that’s worth. You’re are obviously a very introspective, thoughtful, and genuine human being, not to mention an excellent writer who, by my estimation, will be drawing the attention of some professional, hockey-geared, news-and-opinion outfits after this exploded on Twitter (I hope your web hosts’ server can deal with the load!). Seriously, that was a moving piece.

      1. If it isn’t too much trouble or if you don’t mind me asking would you please send me that story to my email It was very beautifully written from the heart and I have some friends that would really enjoy reading about it both hockey and non-hockey friends.

      2. I wish I could read it – from what everyone says, it sounds like a really powerful piece. Perhaps you can post something with the sentiment but leaving out the personal parts that some people seemed to think were intrusive into the family’s tragedy. Regardless, whether I ever get to read it or not, I feel like I can get the jist – love the ones you have as fully as you can because you never know what tomorrow – or 5 minutes from now – will bring. A good lesson for everyone to keep in mind!

  38. Thank you. My children and my family are my life and this just brought it home in more ways than I can count. Thank you so much for sharing this tragic, beautiful story.

  39. Great post. Im latvian aswell. His wife is waiting the third child… She’s pregnant now. Krastns’s wish was to have a boy. I wish his dream will come true. Rest in peace.

  40. Thir really took my breath away, too. I am sitting here at work and tears are rolling down my face, as I read this!!
    Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts!!

  41. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for sharing your day with us. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to post, but it was very well written and definitely gave me a reality check. I’m not a mother, but I’m a sister with young siblings. I can’t even begin to imagine the anguish these families are now feeling and the future they must face. Every inch of my heart goes out to them during such a tragic time. I pray that they find eventual peace.

  42. I had to witness this last year, it was horrible. Seeing two little girls playing knowing in a few minutes they were going to be hit with the most devastating news of their life. Then hearing their shrieks as they were told. I will never forget that sound. Thanks for posting this, I can imagine that you felt helpless sitting there wanting to at the very least say something. I saw McCrimmon play when I went to my first B’s game and I also saw Demitra play with Slovakia (might have been Czechoslovakia at the time) against the US I think in 1996. I also think that McCrimmon played in 1996 for Hartford when I saw them play the Red Wings (Osgood scored a goal).

    Thanks for sharing, after hearing the news you gave me a platform to say my peace on this. Hockey has had a tough summer.

  43. This woman who lost her husband and father for her two kids is pregnant – she is expecting a third kid , which will never see his father :((((

  44. Although I respect your opinion on this matter, I truly feel that this blog was much more about my grief, than theirs, which was completely different, and hardly as difficult. I’m sorry that you disagree.

  45. Words to live by! Thank you for your post and to help remind us what is truly most important in this world, our family , friends and relationships with them!

  46. Jeff, we here in Latvia are absolutely and deeply touched by your post. I think hundreds of people were crying while reading your post at home, office and work and this just shows how good person and human being you are.

    Thank you again for this sad story. But thank to this story Karlis Skrastins now lives outside of our small country.

  47. Skrastins, like the rest of the people that died on that plane, will be greatly missed. He was the captain of the national team of Latvia, and one of the greatest Latvian players.

  48. It has been a very bewildering summer, there is many things beyond the loss of a dad, son or husband, that you only think about when you are in it.
    This blog is so very well written and it is so unfortunate it had to be.
    All the misfortune around hockey this year, really brings back the meaning to life.
    We are all one big family in this world and if we lose one person it hurts, to lose so many in 2011, words can not describe.

  49. This is terrible this happened. And your story explains how hard it is to see families after something like this happens. Wether you know them or not. Sad Sad story.

  50. When I first started reading this I almost stopped because I only randomly came across this post, but I’m so glad I kept going. Your recap of the day almost moved me to tears as well. I’m sitting here in a computer lab on my college campus nearly ready to bawl my eyes out because stories like this really touch the heart. What a sad, sad day it must be for those families. I didn’t know anything about it since I haven’t had the time to read the news. How heartbreaking…

  51. You last lines.. Very well written.. My hearth goes out to those who lost their friends, ex-teamates, fathers, sons… There is no reason this should ever happen, but it did.. I would like to thank you for his family, I don’t know them, but you took that extra ride to bring them to the place they needed to go. It might seem stupid, but at the same time how long did those hours feel to them knowing that they had to go over there to .. My heart goes out to all of them.. Rest in peace…

  52. this post is so… incredibly sad… i’m from germany and posted it on FB so everyone can read. i feel so sorry… for the kids, the wife, you, the whole team and their families 😦

  53. As a father of 2 & 5 year old boys who hugged them this morning before they went off to kindergarten & daycare & I and my wife to work, I was very touched by this story.
    Montreal hockey fan

  54. Such a sad story. Karlis and his family lived directly across the street from me in Highland Park until June 2010. Very nice guy and very nice family. So devastating to hear that the girls will never see their Dad again and that their 3rd child will never know its father.

  55. Thanks for the post. It reminds us that people, no matter from where they are, are still the same. I’m from Latvia myself and we experienced a nation-wide shock. Terrible.

  56. I’ll add in my 2 cents and thank you for sharing.

    Mighty nice of the Stars to jump in and help out the family of an imperiled former player.

  57. There are no words to express the sorrow of yesterday and of that story. Its a tragedy that, as hockey family, you pray will never happen. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to all who were affected by this horrific accident.

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  59. Beautifully written. As a wife of a hockey player (with Latvian heritage) and mother of two hockey players, this just HITS me. Thank for your writing this. Such a powerful perspective. God bless all the families affected by this tragedy.

  60. Wow, relating to my own as i read it. Lost it. Life is fragile! We do what we do for our children and dont think I have ever cried reading anything…. Appreciate life everyone, you never know when it will be taken away from you.

  61. my daughter is 7 months old. the first thing i did when i got home last night was give her a hug and tell her i love her. then i hugged my wife and said the same. thanks for sharing your story, even tho it’s heartbreaking.

  62. Beautifully written, thankyou for sharing. It is such a heartbreaking story that brings tears to my eyes all day. Prayers to all those affected… : (

  63. I couldn’t read all the comments; it was getting too much for me. But it’s evidence that so many people love Skratch. I’m a Nashville Predators fan, and he’s not just only one of my all-time favorite Predators (one that I believe Nashville should never have parted with), but he’s one of my all-time favorite hockey players in general. I’m a defenseman myself, who loves blocking shots and playing a defense-first game, so I truly appreciated Karlis’ style of play. He truly will be missed by everyone – family, friends, teammates, his fellow Latvians and hockey fans across the world. RIP w. ♥

  64. Wow, thanks for sharing the intimate details of probably the worst moment in the lives of this family. It’s so sad for you that you actually had to drive them somewhere. I hope you recover soon.

  65. Pingback: Red Light » Posts Haunted by sudden death from the sky «
  66. Thank you for posting this. I am not even home in Latvia right now, and I’ve been crying a bit everyday. Wasn’t a hockey fan, but always liked Skrastins. A truly, nice, good, caring man, who leaves behind a loving wife and beautiful baby girls. My heart breaks every time I think that they will have to live without their daddy. May Kārlis rest in peace, and may his family find peace.

  67. I could not stop thinking about it, I could not believe that is true.
    How it is for Zane to be so brave packing bags in front of her daughters when heart is tearing apart? How it is to go to plane and fly 10 hours? And last – to tell the truth to children?

    Mana visdziļākā līdzjūtība.

    Latvijas hokejisti – nebrauciet uz Minsku. Tā nav laba vieta 😦

  68. You are one of the many people who helped this family in its time of pain, sorrow and bewilderment. Grace under pressure; maybe somewhere in your past (or future?) someone did the same for you. Thank you for caring and sharing.

  69. Sorry to be a real doubter, but I am skeptical that this story happened as written.

    It’s just one of those internet “phenomenons” that seem too well-crafted and too full of adjectives. Thanks for mentioning you had a Coke Zero!

    I am sorry for all of the victims of the crash. In fact, I knew one who played hockey in my hometown in 1996. That’s probably why my BS detector is up.

    1. I think this post is a reflection of some of the problems with our society – we’ve become so jaded that we don’t believe anything that isn’t negative anymore…sad.

    2. Jason,
      I understand the skeptism in todays world. But, anyone that knows Jeff knows he is full of adjectives and indeed loves his Coke Zero. I am sorry for the loss to all the families . My heart goes out to any family, friends, fans or in this case to you Jeff who has been touched by this sad situation. Thanks for truly touching many of us and for making us take a second to realize what is important in life.

  70. Thank you for this. My husband grew up playing hockey with Karlis in Latvia and was very proud to call him a close friend and teammate. He is heartbroken. He was in Dallas last January visiting with our 6 year old son. We have been thinking of his wife and the girls and I believe this has given him some peace that someone who was caring was apart of this long hard journey that has just begun for them.

  71. I read this early today and wanted to share it with my husband. I am sorry you had to take the post down, but I appreciate your sensitivity to the family. What a horrific tragedy and what a beautiful tribute you composed.

  72. While I understand your reasons for taking it down (I read it earlier today), I wanted to take a moment to thank you. If anything, it reminded us to take a moment to be thankful for the families we have. Sometimes we forget the people dealing with this directly outside of immediate family. If anything, take some solace in he fact that you helped the family however minimally it feels begin the mourning process.

  73. I don’t think that your post was in any way harmful or malicious towards the family, it was very well written and poignant. I cried and shared it with several friends who loved it. You delivered a beautiful tribute to life in general and through your own personal perspective. I am sad you removed this and hope you will reconsider posting it again, as I had many friends who wanted to read it. I think you were very considerate as you did not “name” anyone and you still kept their initial privacy. A powerful message was shared, and any reader will see this was not something exploiting the family in any way, nor insensitive. Thank you for sharing this. I was directed to this by an NHL player who posted the link and said it was a must read.

  74. I understand the need to remove this post, but do want to say that it was beautiful and touched my daughter and I deeply.

  75. I’m sorry that you felt the need to take this down… You were beyond sensitive, you had feelings, and you wrote that all from your heart. It was a great article. He was a loved player throughout the league, and I’m sure you can tell that from all of the posts here. Thank you for sharing your story.

  76. Jeff, Your blog / article on this horrific tragedy was tremendous and I feel is worthy of a journalistic award. I’m truly sorry that you felt it had to be “taken down.” I cannot see how the Skrastins Family could feel anything but your love, compassion and sympathy after reading it.

      1. Jeff,

        Is there any way that you can email a copy of the post, if you don’t feel comfortable leaving it up on the site? So many others have had such wonderful comments about it.

  77. I am insanely intrigued by the posting that has inspired all these comments and curious as to why the posting had to be removed … I am sorry that I was not able to share in the piece as it sounds like you have moved many people with it. Keep writing about things that inspire you!! With a response regarding your writing like the one you receive I am very excited to be subscribed to your page.

  78. You touched SO many people today with this, THANK YOU. I think for many of us, this gave us the close personal aspect, so that we were finally able to cry, and start to release the grieve and sadness. As you can tell with the comments, you touched many, many, many people. It was amazing to see the journalist, NHL players, and the average joe, retweeting the link, and saying that is a must read.

    Thank you. Your words were a gift that we all needed today.

  79. I am sad that you chose to remove such a tremendous tribute to a fallen man. You in no way disrespected a family in their time of grief, if anything you showed that a story like this touches everyone. It reminded all of us just how precious life is and that we should take nothing for granted. I cried from the first words you wrote and the story has stuck with me all day. I can’t get the image of two little girls whose hearts and lives were about to be shaken to their very core out of my head. You painted a poignant picture and showed how truly compassionate we has humans can be. Thank you for making Karlis more than a hockey player to those of us who had the great fortune to read your words today.

    1. If it isn’t too much trouble or if you don’t mind me asking would you please send me that story to my email If you cannot as indicated about your job jwc I certainly understand. If anyone else did save this story would you please email it to the address above. I will be keeping this story private to only a few of my closest friends due to the nature of the reason it had to be removed. It was very beautifully written from the heart and I have some friends that would really enjoy reading about it both hockey and non-hockey friends.

  80. I thought it was heartfelt and touching. as a diehard hockey fan ( and deeply saddened by the loss of former Blues player Pavol Demitra) I appreciated your feelings and could certainly relate. I re-posted from a friend, then 5 more of my friends did the same. I’m sorry you took it down.

  81. After reading all of the other comments, as well as your subtle replies, it saddens me that something that has touched the hearts of people worldwide had to be removed due to politics. I hope the “powers that be” will reconsider their stance, and you will soon re-publish.

  82. Jeff, I was one that arrived too late at the source to read the original post. There is a moving report on your story in Norwegian media at the moment. I am sure you have touched the hearts of millions around the globe with your story even though you chose to take it down out of respect for the family. I believe myself there was no harm done, but then again I am not the one to judge. From what I can tell, this was a story that needed to be told.

  83. Thank you for sharing an incredibly powerful recount of a very moving event – YOUR story for how YOU were affected by something so far removed from you. THAT is worth sharing because it reveals human-ness, and that breeds HOPE… Hope that indeed human nature is still caring, loving and genuinely positive. That is deeply inspirational, and very worthy of being given a voice. I appreciate that in fact, you did that!

    Your post was utterly brilliant writing, and incredibly heart-wrenching. Thank you.

    Your employer should be proud to have you on board. They need to read these comments. Instead of being in fear, they could choose to embrace the enormous positive influence your encounter, and ‘the sharing of your encounter’ is having on so many people. I hope they will!

    You are a great writer, I hope you will continue ~

    [For what it’s worth, there was no disclosure in your post that identified the name of the transportation company – no link of the company to the client made public. So, the transportation company – through you, its employee – did not actually breach confidentiality with its client.]

  84. I, too, would like to have read this. Feel free to email it to me if you still have a draft. Karlis was the reason I got hooked into hockey. His death has just crushed me.

  85. Sorry to see that you removed your story. Was advised by many to read. If you could email story to me would very much appreciate.

  86. Thank you jwc for such a lovely post. Skratch was a solid, hard-working D-man that you could count on to make the tough plays night-in and night-out. He truly deserved his nickname of ‘Iron Man’ as he was all of that and more.
    I was lucky to catch your piece, and felt that your writing was a perfect snap-shot of those moments of grief, despair, and blissful ignorance.
    His widow showed as much courage as Skratch did nightly, and she will likely have to continue to be the ‘Iron’ of the family now.
    My condolences to the Skrastins family on their significant loss.

  87. Spot on with this write-up, I really suppose this web site needs way much more consideration. I’ll most most likely be again to understand far much more, thanks for that info.

  88. Great post, saw it before it was taken down. Totally understand why you seemingly did so. How you could have possibly known your blog post would go viral like it did and caught the attention of so many, including those who wanted it down?

    Great work, and go Sabres!

  89. This really is an extremely incredible powerful resource that you’re offering and you simply offer it away cost-free!! I that can match discovering websites which often understand the particular valuation on supplying you having a superb learning resource for zero cost. We truly dearly loved examining this weblog. Love!

  90. I would say remove any personal name information and put it back up. Do you realize how many you touched with your writing?! It was too good to just disapear into oblivion. Please edit and put back. It was one of the most amazing writings I’ve ever read. Seriously.

  91. My husband was telling me how heartfelt (and heart wrenching) this piece was, but I never got the chance to read it. Would it be possible for you to email it?

  92. After reading your blog post I browsed your website a bit and noticed you aren’t ranking nearly as well in Google as you could be. I possess a handful of blogs myself and I think you should take a look here: You’ll find it’s a very nice tool that can bring you a lot more visitors. Keep up the quality posts

  93. Jeff,

    It’s a shame a troll like “Honest Assessment” has to dump on what was otherwise a very eloquent piece. I understand your need to remove the post, but it is indeed a shame. I don’t think your narrative violated any privacy laws or etiquette. It discusses your own internal feelings as you made your way to the airport in the aftermath of a very public disaster. You never discussed what the woman or her children were saying, and kept the commentary about their actions to a minimum.

    As a journalist, I’m routinely asked to approach grieving families in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy. Sometimes, I’ve been forced to talk with someone only hours after their loved one has tragically died. I always feel like I’ve committed some sort of egregious violation of conduct. But the paper, like every other one I’ve worked at over the past decade, always asks for the interview. And they always publish the results.

    This is your own raw emotion and a fine piece that is hardly an intrusion. Even better yet, your site has served as a space for people who knew Karlis to pay their respects. I was glad I could find a cached version of it somewhere to finally read it, but the comments with the one exception really say it all. It’s a great piece and I hope one day you’re able to publicly display it again.


  94. Great article, I red it translated in Latvian magazine. It is good that you wrote this amazing, nice article and you can see that there was no harm meant. Skrastins is from Latvia (me too) and his widow’s name is Zane (mine too) and she is pregnant with 3rd child. Latvia loves your article and THANK YOU for that!! It was translated into Latvian magazine and everyone LOVES your article!!

  95. As my mom doesnt speak English, she asked me to tell you Thank you for this heartful article, it was so emotional, she keeps reading it and crying. And she wants to tell you – I am sad you have deleted this WONDERFUL STORY and listened to all negative comments, people you are just mean and writes mean things. Your story was published in IEVA Latvias magazine and the director of it said – This is the best, most emotional story ever written. If possible, please post the story again – do not listen to people who dont understand. Karlis Skrastins was from Latvia and all Latvians love your story so so much. You did a good job, thank you!

  96. I would like to read this article very much. Please please send me teh copy, if possible. It is really shame it was removed.

  97. I would also like to read your story. Please send it to me. My husband and I are Dallas Stars Season ticket holders and Skatchy was one of my favorite players and he will be greatly missed!! I can’t believed Dallas did not resign him. If they had, he would still be here…

  98. Thank you for this beautiful post!
    I am a family member of Karlis Skrastins. Our family would like to contact with you. Please, please responde!! It is important to us!
    Please e-mail me to the adress that I have indicated!!

    1. I cannot believe I am just seeing this today. I thought I had read all the comments diligently after I wrote this blog. Not sure if you’ll see this but I am still here.

  99. I assume that you have answered this for someone else, but I was hoping you’d be willing to email me this story. I teach writing to K-6th graders and I read your piece aloud to the elder two classes as part of a lesson on the power of non-fiction. One of the girls was so moved that she wanted to share it with her family, but when I tried to pull it up for her, it had been removed.
    If not, I certainly understand.
    Thank you!

  100. Your telling of your experience on that terrible day choked me up. Skratch was an incredible player with heart and grit that are in short supply. No surprise that such a great player was a great man, too. My heart goes out to his beautiful family–his wife and those precious children. We will never forget him.

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