Memories of Elizabeth

David J. Baxter

Elizabeth Joyce Baxter
February 12, 1978 - December 2, 1995

"On earth we are not humans trying to be spiritual... 
We are sprites trying to be human..."
 (Chinese proverb)

Elizabeth was born on February 12,  1978,  at Kingston General Hospital in Kingston,  Ontario,  Canada,  delivered by Dr.  Clifford Meyer,  our family physician at the time.   She was adopted at birth,  and we were able to bring her home when she was only 5 days old.   I recall trying to phone my parents who were overseas at the time and feeling so filled with emotion that I couldn't think of anything to say to them... 

Lizzie was a quiet,  good-natured baby who even before she could speak exhibited a deep interest in animals,  nature,  and how the things around her were related or fit together,  a characteristic that foreshadowed her later interest in ecology and the environment.   As a young child,  she was sociable but always somewhat private,  generally absorbed in her own activities which usually involved exploring her world,  so that more often that not other children came to her rather than her seeking out other children.   This was another characteristic that persisted into her later years,  and I think one that distressed her at times.   She cared deeply about other people and was from the first a champion of the underdog,  but she was also fundamentally a shy person and disliked this trait in herself.   She abhorred bigotry and cruelty,  and in her brief life taught me an enormous amount about tolerance and empathy.   She liked humour and comedy,  and one of her favourite TV shows was The Simpsons:   She was quite good at doing impressions of most of the characters on the show.   She also liked playing Super Mario games and usually adopted the character of The Princess,  who in Super Mario World was small (like Lizzie) but very resourceful (also like Lizzie) and the only girl among the principle characters...

On December 2,  1995,  at age 17,  on an icy road near her home in Oxford Station,  Ontario,  Canada,  driving an unfamiliar vehicle for the first time,  Lizzie apparently slipped off the road onto the shoulder,  lost control of her vehicle,  and veered into the path of an oncoming car.   The doctors tell us she lost consciousness immediately...   She never regained consciousness and shortly afterwards was pronounced dead at the local hospital.  

She never thought of herself as a popular person and I think she would have been genuinely amazed at the number of people who were devastated by her death...  not only those who she thought of as friends,  but many others who I'm certain she would have said thought nothing of her at all.   Like many young women of her age,  she sometimes suffered from self-doubt and self-depreciation.

For me,  the day of her death marked the day the inconceivable entered my world and overshadowed everything else in it.   More than a year later,  I still find myself waiting to wake up and find it was all a terrible nightmare,  knowing full well all the time this is no dream.   I've been told that this is every parent's worst fear:   It wasn't mine...  I simply never imagined that it could happen.   I hear the words on the telephone telling me about the accident,  I hear the words telling me that my daughter is dead,  and I hear my own voice saying  "No...  what are you saying? That's impossible!".   I expect that any one who has ever lost a child must hear something similar.

She was buried in Oxford Mills, Ontario, Canada, under a headstone that bears an etching of her photograph and the following inscription:

"and now faith, hope, and love abide, these three;  and the greatest of these is love"

In addition to her father and her mother,  Lizzie left behind two younger brothers who also continue to struggle to comprehend what has happened. She also left numerous relatives and friends, more than she ever realized in the short time she was here... We all miss her terribly and we know this will not change.  She would have been 19 this February...

The Keeper of The Light  (Elizabeth's Song)

© David J. Baxter  &  Michael D. Baxter,  1996

There was a time when we were young and dreams were free
There was a time when morning still could comfort me
There was a time when rainbows filled the summer sky
There was a time I didn't need to wonder why

But now you're gone the summer sun is fading through the trees And all the songs we used to sing still echo on the breeze I miss you.....

You were the fire when I was cold and all alone
You were the angel of the night
You were the one who taught me what I had to know
You were the Keeper of the Light

I was adrift without direction on the sea
You were the star that brought me home
How can I keep the course that life has set for me?
How will I make it through the storm?

You were the princess in the kingdom of my dreams
You were the song upon the waves
You were the whisper in the night that kept me sane
You were the hope that made me brave

You were the torch that lit the shadows on the way
You were the wonder in my soul
How can I keep the dream from fading with the day?
You were the one who made it whole...
and I miss you...

The first version of this song was written in a hotel room in Hamilton,  Ontario,  Canada,  June 3,  1996,  circa 4.00 am,  with Lake Ontario and the heavens as a backdrop.   Michael and I later revised and arranged the song in anticipation of the first public performance at Oxford-on-Rideau Public School,  Ontario,  in early December,  1996,  which Lizzie and her brothers have all attended, not far from Lizzie's high school, not far from the church where we all said goodbye to her last December, and close to the cemetary where she now watches as we mourn her passing...  For various reasons, we have as yet been unable to schedule the concert but it is still planned for the spring of 1997 if all goes well.  I am also at work on two other songs, one virtually completed, which we hope to include in the concert.

David J. Baxter

You can send email to David J. at: [email protected]
mail welcome

anniversary date 12-02-95
date of post 04-20-97

[return to home page] [column] [book excerpts] [honor page] [discussions page]

Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW