Sarah Burke, 29, lived as if she had no fear, and she pushed out the bounds of human endeavour in an archetypically Canadian way.  But though she succeeded on so many levels, her sport of freestyle skiing killed her.  It is difficult to make sense of that .

How do we weigh such a life in the balance?  She was happily married, could have lived on to have a sterling career, children and grandchilden and entered her golden years with her family around her.  Instead her family is now desperately trying to raise thousands of dollars to pay for her failed treatment in a American hospital.

She paid for her daring with her life snuffed out so early.

Is there any balance here?  Was an early death preferable to a life well lived?

Is there anything one can say that makes any sense of this tragedy?

Or is this an impenetrable mystery – best left in the mind of God?

What can one say?


  1. 1
    Cate McB Says:

    What killed her was an accident. Anybody can have an accident anytime anywhere. She built a sport and that’s an important part of her legacy, especially when the sport is now part of the Olympics. She died doing what she loved just like astronauts and a lot of other people who stare fear in the face in what they do.

    And by all accounts, the money needed for her hospital bill has already been raised with the surplus going to some kind of foundation — another great part of her legacy.

  2. 2

    It was a sad accident. I believe she was 29 years old.
    Lives are like books-Some are big and some are little- It’s the quality of the story that counts.

  3. 3
    Neil McKenty Says:

    Is there something unfair about her premature death?

  4. 4

    Yes! But it’s also unfair that I just welcomed my 69th birthday in good health, and have had to say goodbye to so many friends, much younger.
    It’s unfair that Joe Paderno got to live so long.
    It’s unfair that babies are starving in Africa.

    I don’t believe that we are in charge of that department.

  5. 5

    “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And you have burned so very very brightly, Roy. Look at you. You’re the prodigal son. You’re quite a prize!”

    — Dr。Eldon Tyrell in response to the android Roy Batty’s query whether Tyrell, his creator, could prolong his life expectancy. From “Blade Runner”.

  6. 6
    Barbara Says:

    You cannot judge the quality of a painting by its size. No a life by its length. So tragic, but with impressive impact.

  7. 7

    “Was an early death preferable to a life well lived?”

    Are you trying to say her life was NOT well lived? If she could speak to you, I think she’d probably take issue with that!

  8. 8
    Neil McKenty Says:

    There is more sad news of this genre today. Gabby Gifford has aannounced that she will resign this week from her Arizona seat in the House of Representatives. Only 41, she had a glittering future aahead of her. She is still alive but she has paid a heavy price for an act of random violence.

  9. 9
    Cate McB Says:

    She’s not dead Neil, and she’s far from “still alive but ….”
    Yes, her resignation is sad and yes, she paid a heavy price.
    But from what I see of her, I think she will make a return — not to her old life, but to something else equally compelling, and worthwhile for the benefit of herself & her fellow human beings.

    I think she’s a woman to watch.

  10. 10

    We all look at life in different ways. Some look to intellectual challenges,some physical. Some of us crave thrills,some avoid any risk.Because of her experience,she may have discounted any thought of serious injury. You would think that marriage and a family would have changed her perspective,but such was not the case. Looking at it as an observer,we see a tragedy,but would she,given foresight,do things differently ?

    Gaby Giffords is different. You generally don`t expect some incoherent lunatic to come at you with a gun,any more than you expect to be hit by a bus. But yes, these things do make us religious people think about things.

  11. 11

    Why is Gabby Gifford’s deciding to do something else with her life — HER life, please not — “sad?”

  12. 12

    *sigh* …please NOTE…

  13. 13

    I think that Gabby Giffords is already doing something else with her life. She is an inspiration to thousands of people with brain injuries and an inspiration to all people with challenges.

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