“On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
It has taken a few weeks to allow thoughts to sink in on what I’m about to write. During my lifetime I have, from shattered experience, learned it is never easy to say goodbye to a friend. Harder still when it is their untimely death that takes them away without any opportunity to say goodbye. It leaves you with a dull empty feeling deep down inside. A feeling you know that in time will pass, but not without first wreaking some havoc on your concept of what life is about?
A circumstance beyond our control
Kathryn and I were in Chicago earlier this month when we learned that Twyla Roscovich had been missing for several days. On September 7th her family, friends and acquaintances sprung into action to find her. Unfortunately, there was no happy ending. On Friday September 15th, Roscovich’s family released a written statement saying Twyla’s body was discovered near Fisherman’s Wharf in Campbell River. The family didn’t release any details about her death but said no foul play was suspected. Paul Ross, Twyla’s former partner and father of their four-year-old daughter Ruby, had previously commented Twyla had been struggling with a thyroid condition for several years and apparently had become very frustrated. It is utterly impossible not to feel deep sorrow for all concerned, most of all for Twyla.
Enchanted to meet you
While on a diving trip with a group of friends to Browning Passage HideAway Diving Resort in October 2016, I met Twyla, Paul and Ruby when they anchored their ship, Samphire, in Clam Cove. Unbeknownst to me, Twyla and I had several close friends in common. She had come ashore to have a drink and meet everyone staying at the lodge. We were chatting across the kitchen table when all of a sudden her face lit up and she blurted out, “You’re Jett Britnell! I’ll admit I was somewhat surprised but, as it turned out, she had cut her teeth reading about my scuba diving adventures published in Canada’s DIVER Magazine as she was growing up. “A lot of people on the BC coast know who you are,” she said. For me, it was one of those moments in life where someone else reminds you of who you are, and who you may have influenced. I learned from Twyla about the documentary film work she had done and our friendship, along with my admiration for her, was born. Over the next few days there were several opportunities to talk with Twyla and Paul, and we even enjoyed an opportunity to muster up enough dive gear for Twyla to come for a dive with our group. Everybody who had just met her over these halcyon fall days were enamored by her enthusiasm, camaraderie, and exceedingly engaging personality.
So, who is Twyla Roscovich?
Twyla was a 38 year-old independent documentary filmmaker, environmentalist, activist and mother whose documentaries advocated for First Nations, marine life, wild life and conservation. She rather brilliantly employed science in her documentary “Salmon Confidential” (which she made while pregnant) to speak out against salmon farming in British Columbia. Salmon Confidential garnered worldwide attention for revealing the provincial government’s cover up of what was killing British Columbia’s wild salmon. She was an eco-warrior par excellence whose films will long be remembered as they did much to educate the general public and the chronically uninformed.
In May 2017, Twyla and I shared our last brief exchange over Facebook Messenger. She messaged back and I told her I would be picking her brain about video post processing in the coming months. She also confirmed that her and Paul had mutually agreed to part ways, but that it was all good. I wished her, Paul & Ruby all the best. All seemed congruent with the Twyla I had met last fall. It seemed as if we had known each other for a long time. She was just young enough to be my daughter, but had accomplished so much during her lifetime.
Those whom the God’s love
It’s been said… “Those whom the God’s love, die young.” Having lost other close friends during my lifetime, I’m not so sure about this quote. Sometimes the God’s must be crazy because nobody on this earth was ready to say goodbye to you, Twyla, nor some other dear friends of mine. During your short sweet life, you touched the hearts and minds of so many. I doubt you could truly know the breadth and width your spirit embraced others. However briefly, I feel I am indeed richer for knowing you. To live in the hearts of others is never to die. With determination, all who loved you take on the task of a double living and, I’m certain, will do their level best to fulfill the promise of your life. This will be a heavy task as you left behind a mighty big hole to fill. For your family and friends, may the memories and unbridled love of your life force shine a blinding light upon their souls through the shroud of dark clouds hovering over their heads as they struggle to heal and come to terms with the weight of your passing. Acceptance during grief is never painless to accept. In our own, to the world, it is no less easy to comprehend. May love and light reign triumphant as we are all connected on this beautiful blue planet. And so now, with a heavy heart but indomitable purpose, it is I who is saying to you, my friend, “You’re Twyla Roscovich! People the world over know who you are.” ❤️
Celebration of life
Twyla Roscovich’s life will be celebrated at Thunderbird Hall in Campbell River, October 8th at 2pm.
Twyla’s memorial fund for Ruby
Family and friends have set up a trust fund for Twyla’s daughter, Ruby Lynn, that she will have access to upon maturity. Twyla put her whole life into her work and did not have the means to leave Ruby with a secure financial future. We’re hoping this campaign will help make one aspect of Ruby’s adulthood a little bit easier. The trust will only be accessible by Ruby and has conditions as to what she can use the money for i.e. education/training. ~ Leni Goggins, Twyla’s step sister.
Go Fund Me Campaign for Ruby is now closed.