I can talk about how my colleague, my friend, Tara Bowie, who was killed in a motor vehicle incident on Friday night near Cawston, was passionate about delivering news to a small community.
I can tell you about how as Tara’s editor she, without being asked, tirelessly (literally texting me updates in the early morning hours) went from covering floods to wildfires, to provide the Similkameen community with the most up-to-date news. How she loved an RDOS meeting, rarely missed a Keremeos council meeting, and put on a tough face in a tight-knit community to deliver factual news content because she knew it would be of importance.
But, there is something I would rather talk about.
What I learned from Tara is that your value in life is not just defined by what you do as a career. We had many discussions about this after we both left the news business. Discussions about the difficulties that we, and many of our fellow journalists have, covering tragic situations. Discussions about how every accident, fire, court case etc. can leave a scar on you. How you care so much for the community you live in, shop in and cover as a news beat and the challenges that poses. I know residual pieces of many of the events she covered were left with her.
It was evident in one of the last in-depth stories she wrote, about a man dealing with debilitating complications due to diabetes. A feature story that she saved to tell her community first. A feature story that could have been written in national publications — in fact, outlets across the country and the world, reached out to her after it was published in her little hometown. Tara was invited to Dan Laramie’s death with dignity “party” that he, and his family, only trusted her with. Tara captured words and emotions that I know resonated with her. Words that eventually guided her to step away from the journalist life to finally live her own.
“My best advice is if you want to do something in life get on with it. Tomorrow you may be in here with a little blister on your toe and there goes all your life – all your plans. All your stuff, everything you thought you were going to do – out the window. And there’s nothing you can do about it. So my best advice is to do it now. Just get out there and do it. You’ve got nothing to lose and if you wait to do it later you have everything to lose,” Laramie had said to Tara for her feature story.
She took those words to heart. She spent much of this last year on adventures we all wish we could take the time to experience.
I will forever be in remorse that I didn’t make more time to be around her shining light, the enormous energy and loud voice that was impossible to ignore in our newsroom. I will not forget the smile and the ear she offered even in the most stressful times.
Ironically, I am grateful that our last conversation was about a job reference I gave her. We laughed about how I evaded the question about the tidiness of her desk (which I often playfully bugged her about), or how she would push things right to the last minute of the deadline. I opened myself up to tell her how valued she was to me. Yes, as a work colleague but also as a friend. How she made people so at ease by not judging them by their background or situation. How I was impressed by her capability to walk into any situation or room and develop a meaningful connection. It is why she was able to pull out these amazing news stories from her back pocket when you never expected them.
For all those reasons, and more, I have shed some tears for the loss of you Tara, my friend. But, for also those same reasons, I will walk forward carrying your love for life, friendships, laughs and know that you would want me to hoist a Cannery Brewing Company beer in your honour and live my life for myself and not for what I am in my career. While I thought I was attempting to guide you as your editor, your colleague, your friend – it is your unapologetically loud, electric energy, and love for adventure that will now always guide me.
Among one of Tara’s few last posts to her social media channels was a quote shared from another page. I implore everyone to please to take a moment to read it and the rest of their time on Earth living it:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Friend of Tara Bowie