Zackaël : Guardian Angel of Route 323

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Today marks the 2 year anniversary of the accident. In memory of Zackaël, I set up a candlelight vigil in front of our house.

I had written the following post last week about my visit to the memorial, but was able to finalize it only today.

In the two years following the accident, the idea of ​​going to the site has always put me off, for two reasons. First, it is a tragic place filled with bad memories. The second is that the location is relatively far away and I try to avoid travel, especially around wooded areas.

Since the accident, whenever we’ve traveled in that area, we’ve chosen to take an alternate route, taking the 321 instead of the 323. Even our son Maxandre had told us that he preferred not to drive past the scene of the accident.

Evidently, I often think about the accident. I remember the moments just before when we were happy in the car. I relive the moment of impact as well as the horror that followed. A horror that has lasted too long. I also wonder about those who stopped at the side of the road to help us, the first responders, and those who treated Zackaël and Adélie. Moreover, I wonder how they are doing and if they have been marked. I might even like to meet them one day. If you are one of those people, feel free to send me a message to let me know about your experience, if you feel like it of course.

My first visit to the accident site (roadside memorial)

We left around 9:30 am from Ottawa to go to the roadside memorial. During the drive, I kept my eyes on the road. I know the chances of seeing another moose are low, but when one is struck by trauma and death, things are never the same.

Once at the site, we started by installing a new photo panel. With the use of Canva*, I had created a heart shaped photo collage. I uploaded it to VistaPrint, where I ordered a sign designed specifically for outdoors. The first panel with the close-up of Zackaël’s face has been very resistant to weathering and a very busy roadside, even after a year!

We also added other spotlights, and solar flowers that illuminate in the dark. We hung some new solar lanterns and a string of star shaped lights that light up at night. Since we set it up in daylight, it was difficult to visualize how it would look after sunset. It was also the first time my mother had visited the site.

My mother at the roadside memorial

Before leaving, my husband (Carl) and I walked a few meters along the edge of the road. I took the time to take a good look around. With the sun now shining, the day reminded me of November 17, 2019. However, unlike in 2019, there was not yet any snow on the ground.

During our short walk, we found pieces of a wrecked car. They were clearly pieces of our van; the colour matches and on one of the pieces we can see the inscription “Kia”. Carl had found other pieces (including our rear view mirror) when he was previously there.

If you’ve ever seen news coverage of our accident on TV, the car that is shown is not our van, but the other car (that first hit the moose). Our vehicle was much more damaged than the one shown. I’m glad the media didn’t release a photo our vehicle, I haven’t seen any pictures myself yet.

The other car

My impressions of the surroundings

As I looked around, I was surprised that the road was quite straight there. I always thought there was a curve that may have caused a blind spot, making it impossible to see the moose in advance. What surprised me more was the terrain beside the road. To the left, next to where the moose came from, there is a house and a wooded area that is raised (on a small hill). However, on the other side, to the right, it is more of a flat field with very few trees.

I mentioned to Carl that I was surprised at what I saw, because I had imagined the place more flat and wooded. He told me his recollection is that the moose came out from the driveway that leads up to the house. This makes more sense, because it would be unlikely that a moose would descend a small hill. We also both remember seeing the moose not really moving, on the left side (the opposite lane than we were travelling). Here is a photo taken from Google Maps showing the location and the route.

A marvelous community

The next day, November 4th, I wrote a Facebook post in the local community group of that region (Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix, Namur, Chénéville, Lac-des-Plages). I wanted to inform them of our visit to the memorial and of the small additions we made. Some members of the group sent me pictures of the site in the evening, which I greatly appreciated.

Thank you Hugo Desormeaux and Samuel St-Jean to have taken the time to send me night pictures

After receiving the photos, we realized that it would have been nicer to put the little white stars in the shape of the Z, instead of scattering them all over the place (on the Z). Next time we visit, we will make this small adjustment.

Last year, after the memorial was installed, I received many messages via that local group. Again this year, I feel so much compassion from the people of this community. Several people, who do not know Zackaël, told me that they took time to stop at the site to pay their respects. Some read prayers or messages to him. I have been told that people say “hello” to him when they pass, and sometimes truckers honk their horn when they pass by.

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”

Coretta Scott King

I have been blown away by the abundance of messages I received from strangers when I posted on this community group, men and women equally (I generally do not receive many messages or comments from men ). I feel so much compassion from this beautiful community, from everyone, even though they didn’t know our family. And for this, I am so grateful, because Zackaël will not be forgotten, from here and there.

A woman from the region told me that the green light and the photo of Zackaël remind her to watch out for animals. I hadn’t thought of that. Others have written to me that “Zackaël is the angel of route 323” and that he protects them. It was really moving and I would like to thank all of them for their touching words of support.

That’s it for now!
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15 responses to “Zackaël : Guardian Angel of Route 323”

  1. Stéphanie Avatar

    J’ai passé par là hier et même si je ne savais pas où l’accident avait eu lieu, j’ai vu le mémorial au moment même que j’en parlais à mon mari. Difficile à croire que ça serait simplement une coincidence. Je suis contente de lire que tu as réussi à visiter le mémorial et que facebook te permet d’être connectée avec la communauté.

    1. Brigitte Lehoux Avatar

      merci Stéphanie pour ton message! Je ne crois pas non plus que c’est une coïncidence. Merci de suivre mon blogue 🙂

  2. Alejandro Almendrades Avatar
    Alejandro Almendrades

    If you ever need a hand with graphic design. Please let me know. Carl knows how to get in touch. Abrazos. Aa!

    1. Brigitte Lehoux Avatar

      thank you!!

  3. Emily Avatar

    Brigitte, mon fils est en maternelle, à Le Prélude. Ce fut quelques semaines qu’il mentionne un petit Zackaël qui est au paradis. Ainsi, j’ai trouvé ton blog.

    Je pense à ta famille. Votre histoire nous encourage d’embrasser nos petits, et d’avoir des conversations sur le paradis et le décès.

    Mon fils s’inquiètait que Zackaël est tout seul au paradis. Je lui est dit qu’il est là avec pleins d’amis et de famille, et qu’il est entouré d’amour.

    Merci d’avoir créer ce blog.

    1. Brigitte Lehoux Avatar

      merci Emily d’avoir pris le temps de t’informer à propos de Zackaël et de lire ce blogue. Merci aussi pour tes beaux mots d’encouragement. Je suis contente de lire qu’ils parlent de Zackaël dans la classe d’Adélie. Je crois que c’est important de continuer à l’honorer et de parler de lui. Vous faites la bonne chose de parler à vos enfants à ce sujet. Merci de tout coeur.

  4. Veronica Avatar

    So much emotional impact in this month, for you and your family. Thanks for continuing to share your difficult journey through this process of grieving the loss of a child and what life looks like for you and your family now.

  5. St-Amour Avatar

    Il ne sera jamais oublié ce petit, vous le faite vivre. C’est tellement beau. Il a de la chance de vous avoir comme parents. C’est merveilleux que les gens de cette municipalité l’est adopté. Qu’elle compassion de leurs part. Vous êtes courageux Brigitte et Carl. Dieu est avec vous toute la famille et tout près de Zackael. Bien a vous Renée

  6. Melissa Lansing Avatar
    Melissa Lansing

    Je pense fort à toi et ta famille, particulièrement cette semaine. C’est tellement beau tout ce que vous faites pour lui. Zachaël ne sera jamais oublié.

  7. Lynn Avatar

    Le mémorial est très beau et la photo de la nuit..! Zackael continue à toucher les gens, quel beaux témoignages de la communauté.

  8. Diane Larose Avatar
    Diane Larose

    Quelle générosité Brigitte de ta part de partager ton cheminement avec nous. Il est vrai que nous avons besoin du support de la communauté pour traverser une pareille épreuve. Le mémorial de ton fils Zackaël est vraiment beau et touchant. Que la grâce du moment présent continue de vous accompagner! Xox

  9. Renee LaRose Avatar
    Renee LaRose

    So very brave of you to go there Brigette. Your memorial was beautiful last night, and thank you for doing it!

    1. Brigitte Lehoux Avatar

      thanks so much, and thanks for coming and remembering Zackaël

  10. Kathy Avatar

    Je pense souvent à toi et ta famille mais j’ai eu une pensée toute spéciale aujourd’hui. J’aime beaucoup le mémorial et c’est beau de voir ce qu’il représente pour les gens de la communauté et même ceux qui ne font que passer. Merci de partager ceci Brigitte.

    1. Brigitte Lehoux Avatar

      Merci beaucoup Kathy pour tes pensées. J’espère que tu vas bien

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