Home » Camping » “Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.” ― Arthur Schopenhauer

“Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.” ― Arthur Schopenhauer


It was September 13, 2008 when I lost my brother in law, Shawn LaPlante. He was young, fun, hardworking and in love with my sister. He’d just bought his first home the previous year. He was so proud. His best friend, Kelly, had been married the previous month and he wanted to take him fishing. Shawn loved fishing. He had a secret spot he wanted to share with Kelly and his wife.


The road was undercut by rain but you couldn’t tell. He drove his truck onto that road and it gave way. Liza was thrown from the back of the camper where she was riding, reading a book, listening to music. The camper exploded on the first roll, shattered into matchsticks. Shawn was killed instantly. The truck landed on him. Kelly was pinned into the passenger side with the roof crushed onto him, in icy water up to his neck, bleeding.

Liza walked out, miles. There was no way up to the road. She had lost her shoes and between grief and pain she found a way onto the road by walking along the river, climbing over rocks, scaling fallen trees and weeping and panicked, not knowing if she could find someone, anyone who could get help. They were in the Canadian Rockies, 50 miles from the nearest paved road. No cell phone, even if it would have worked.

She found two men, one of them ran back to the scene with her and the other got in his truck and drove to call for help.

It took hours with the jaws of life and an expert group of rescuers to pull Kelly from the wreck. It took a logging helicopter to lift the truck off of Shawn. Liza was there for the whole thing.


I wasn’t there. I’d moved away in April. I’d come back for their first wedding anniversary party in July and returned to my new home. The shock of Shawn’s death lives with me every day. THis is a hard day for all of his family and friends. Because of Liza and the rescuers that day, Kelly survived to have two babies (so far) with his wife.


I don’t think I’ll ever forget that smile. Even when it hurts to remember it.


Cheers to you Shawn. For all you taught me.



15 thoughts on ““Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.” ― Arthur Schopenhauer

  1. Grief is a unique form of suffering. There are many slights and indignities that I suffer every day that I grit my teeth and get past. There are big things to deal with–like finding out about cancer in 2011. I sometimes have felt something akin to grief in addressing that disease. I have cried in pain and rocked myself when nothing else could comfort me during painful episodes. But the loss of loved ones, especially those whose deaths were “before their time,” well that is the grief I struggle with the most. So the loss of a much loved brother at such a young age and in such tragic circumstances seems like a terrible grief. Maybe it is because we are like puzzle pieces. Our oddities make us unique, but there is this thing about people we love. Their oddities fit to ours sometimes like we were meant to be together. And when we miss them we know, too, that those oddities somehow connected them perfectly to the landscapes of other people’s lives. So–even if we speak of the loss of a person others have never known–others can feel that keening pain. All of us eventually come to know what it is like to miss someone who made us feel more connected into the pattern of life. And so we reach out to the one who suffers the loss and do our best to say that we are still here and we care. You may grieve, but we feel that you are suffering and we care.


  2. My deepest condolences, Laura. I know it hurts to remember and guess what? You don’t have to forget. Keep all that Shawn has shared and taught. Keep smiling at those happy moments you have experienced with Shawn. If loss has taught you worth. It is worthwhile remembering him for the joy he has brought to your sister and your family.


  3. I feel deeply for your loss, there is no way to assuage that particular kind of pain, except perhaps, that it helps that your memories are of the fondest kind. Sometimes death can be harder on survivors than expected, especially when untimely or undeserved…or worse, in stark contrast to what we feel we deserve ourselves…this I know well and am now facing it again…Deepest sympathy. Monumental(sic) Respect REDdog


    • I still have a hard time on Sept. 13. He was a humble man and I fear he never knew what he meant to this family. His own was so fucked up, he had a hard road to find the peace he did. And the love. But he some how rose above all that to become a genuine person. True. And before we could show him what a real family could be like…he was gone. We only had 5 years. It wasn’t enough.


  4. I’m with you! I lost my brother in law 2 years ago , it was not a sudden lost but it happened really fast. I still miss him lots when I do. You have the best quote on the worth of things! Thanks for sharing!


There is no sin except stupidity.

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