This amazing, extremely close group of four friends, and many other companions and people suffered an unforgettable and terrible lose, as a car accident at Cristal Falls Road (north of Lions Bay Avenue) took the life of their dear friend Marie-Pier, known commonly to everyone as MP. Leaving their other friend, the driver, Olivia referred to by friends as “Rey-ban” with a spinal cord injury so serious she is now a quadriplegic.
This accident was so serious it prompts call for barriers on Highway 99. MP’s lose has reissued calls for safety barriers to be installed on Highway 99, especially along the stretch that runs through Lions Bay.
The Aftermath of a Life-Taking Tragedy
It was a very tragic day, on November 1st when MP and Rey were left to deal with the aftermath of their accident. Prior to the accident, one of their best friend Jamie Drummond had just been dropped off at the ferry station by them both. Their other close friend Nat Morel was busy at a fashion shoot. Rey’s sister, Mini-Rey tried calling Nat, but she missed her twice. Moments later, about an hour and a half after the accident, Jamie received a phone call from Mini Rey. This startled Jamie as Mini Rey doesn’t normally call her and she knew something was up. Overcome by an awful feeling, Jamie listened as Mini told her that she can’t get in touch with Rey, but that they got a call that MP was in critical condition at Lions Bay hospital. Jamie knew Rey and MP were together (they had just dropped her off), and It was soon that they discovered Rey was at VGH hospital unconscious.
Things you Will Never Overcome
The quick loss of MP hit her friends and family hard. And it would be an understatement to say that MP wasn’t loved. She was adored, and beyond the three girls (Jamie, Nat and Rey) had many close and dear friends.
It was so unfortunate what happened to MP. She had such a wonderful vitality to her, a warmth and a free, loving spirit. Sadly, there was too much bleeding and swelling in her brain, they were given no choice but to unplug her. A tragic decision that one could not even imagine making—but at the same time they weren’t left with any other options.
Even Her Bad Eyes Were Good
On a more positive note, MP was able to donate eight of her organs to help others in need. Jamie and MP had talked about organ donation and always joked that no one would want or get MP’s eyes as she always had really, really, really poor eye sight, but even her eyes were put to use in order to help someone.
Supporting Each Other Through the Pain
Friends were beyond devastated and in need of each other. Jamie organized a gathering for extended friends (more like an extended family) to comfort each other at this trying time, and come together for MP and Rey. Jamie really was a moving force in bringing everyone together at such a tough time, and was strong for others even when it was so hard for her. At the time she was living on the Island and she managed to be there for every moment.
The three girls, (and many others) were literally facing their worst time ever, though they continued to honor MP with their loving words and posts on the internet. They kept her admired essence alive through their beautiful prose, thoughts and words.
For starters, the girl organized to have a bench dedicated to MP in Whistler. They are constantly sending her love and missing wishes through social media. They even created a special hashtag for her #livingtheMPway, which they all use when they are really thinking of her, honouring her or missing her. The group of four girls that loved to join forces was now no longer complete, and missing a very important and cherished person in their lives.
Jamie describes it as a “feeling” of knowing that person who meant everything would no longer be there. There aren't really words to describe the magnitude of this feeling. Mp was Someone that for Jamie, no one else could ever replace. She held a special role in her life, someone she really counted on. No one can replace her spirit or her soul or he super intelligence. There will always be that void and that vacancy.
Love for MP
In memory, Jamie, especially close to MP writes:
“Celebrating the birth and life of my great friend today. I miss and love you beyond measure. I take solace in these words and know that you are with me in the only way you can be. I will continue to see you in the small joys and wonderful experiences that come into my life. Knowing that you are never far away, but right beside me❤ #livingthempway.
Nat Morel, a part of the friend group shares this:
“Never hold back on telling the important people in your life how much they mean to you and how special they are, because you have no idea what might happen tomorrow... ❤️ #wemissyoump”
Nat, and the other three girls continued to honor MP, especially on her birthday or the anniversary of her passing.
Here Nat writes:
“My little butterfly angel, MP3! It’s your birthday today! I know you’re having the best time dancing in your little paradise, probably getting everyone around you feeling so loved and free. There’s a few new special people that have joined you. Please take good care of them. I’m gonna have a little boogie for you tonight to our fave disco song, The Hustle by Van McCoy, drink some champagne in your honour and think of all our amazing dancing memories! Thank you for continuing to inspire me everyday - I try so hard to make you proud and I remind myself everyday to be more like you. I love you so much and can’t wait to see more of you, in butterfly form, this summer 🦋 #livingthempway Marie-Pier Champagne”
Jamie shares her special bond with MP:
“In 2015, MP and I started to plan out trip to Peru and Colombia. We never got to realize it together, but I am doing it for us both. Today I reached the top of Machu Picchu after an amazing trek through the most gorgeous inspiring scenery I could ever imagine. She was with us every step of the way. We had the most perfect weather. The best trekking group and company. We were never fatigued. We charged up every pass reaching 13,000+ feet with relative ease. To be able to summit on her birthday was a dream realized. Wearing her precious Montreal Expos shirt, and sprinting the last 5kms to be the first person from 150 trekkers to reach the sun gate, I have never felt more alive. Thank you for visiting me on the mountain today. It was perfect to have a champagne at the top, and have you flutter around my heart in the form of a yellow butterfly. I miss and love you forever, my girl. We did it! #machupicchu #inkatrail#livingthempway #alpacaexpeditions.”
The girl’s online love though beautiful did nothing to truly justify their significant lose and their never-ending pain. It was so hard to make sense of it all. Why did this have to happen? One minute they were partying in Vancouver with their best friends on Halloween, and in the next life was at stake, and life was changed forever.
As Rey says, “it is very blurry how it came into play.” Her memory was fragile and she could piece together very little of the accident. She was unable to talk for a couple of months after, even though she was writing notes with her friends and finding ways to communicate. She was asking about the accident and wondering about the state of her dear friend MP. She was dealing with post-trauma issues, but when she finally was able to process what her friends Nat and Jamie (they debated for a long time about who was going to tell Rey and when) were telling her, she instantly blamed herself. She felt very fortunate that MP’s family didn’t hold her responsible, but she was devastated to lose her friend and roommate, and could not forgive herself for being the one who was driving. She says it took a long time to get over the impulse to self-blame. In her words, “everyone was on edge because of the whole traumatic experience [that just occurred}.” There were a lot of hard feelings to deal with on both ends of the spectrum.”
Rey had her own personal trauma with the lose of her hands and lower body. She says it was a shock if that, but that obviously the greatest shock was the lack of function. She claims that the whole experience was and still is simply shocking. It took a lot for her to learn how to live and deal with this kind if trauma. She says that she is finally at peace with MP’s passing. It took two years for her to get there and a lot of counselling and therapy. It was an emotional road for Rey and everyone dear to MP. Rey describes it as the “the emotional journey of losing MP”, while the other emotional journey was dealing with the adaption of her body and life.
The Adaptation of Rey’s life
Rey was always super active. As a Whistler resident she loved to ski, snowboard, swim, hike, and bike. She was an RMT who loved what she did, and used her body a lot. Suddenly, she wasn’t so free and needed help with everything. She says she often wakes up and thinks, “I hate my life”, but she is trying. When she first arrived home she just wasn’t herself and had to go on anti-depressants. She suffered from a dislocated neck and broke her C6 and C7 vertebrae.
She now has her bowls on schedule and a part-time care-taker. She’s looking into surgery called Mitrofanoff which will put a link from her belly button to her bladder. This will allow Rey to do an intermittent catheter and she will not be so dependent on having a urine bag strapped to her at all times. This situation has been especially trying as Rey has tried a lot of different bladder medication to test out how much her bladder can hold before she gets some incontinence. She is also looking into getting Botox in her bladder, which would help with increasing her bladder capacity.
She relies on a Google Assistant to help her do small things like turn out the lights—she really maximizes her resources. She also goes to North Vancouver once a week to see a NeuroPhysio. As a result of the trauma, she has lost a lot of muscle mass and isn’t as hungry as she used to be. Though she certainly still has a thirst for life, and a light that keeps on shinning.
It’s been remarkable to watch as this bright human still sheds her inner light upon others. She works so hard at getting back to doing the things she loves. She has a manual chair and will go outside daily to practice getting it right—she makes herself be active. She is grateful for all the incredible people she has met along her journey, and has become quite close to some of them.
Rey was the type who would try to cheer people up, despite her condition. She was always a source of light and motivation. She loved people and wasn’t afraid to tell them why. Rey has always been and continues to be an inspirational person. She keeps living and giving despite what’s happened to her. It isn’t easy, but she isn’t giving up. She’s managed to go sit-skiing (where someone is spotting you, but Rey wants to learn how to model ski solo and go down hills by herself) and has learned how to drive an adapted mini van. Meaning she is able to get out of Whistler and drive to the city to visit dear friends like Nat and others. Rey can feel touch but she can’t feel pressure, temperature or pain. Recently Rey was out on the water, smiling and kayaking. She’s not sitting at home feeling sorry for herself, she’s working towards doing all the things she loves and with the people she loves. As she says, “I am looking to what I need to do to move forward.” She describes herself as “never lazy”, which is why she spends time wheeling around in her manual chair. She says it’s a lot easier to take out of the car and it’s like walking versus driving. She says, “it’s better exercise.” She used to be tired so it took a lot of practice. Rey says, “she’s bad at asking for help” but that she’s become better at it.
It’s almost exactly what MP would have wanted her to do, to live life the MP way and never give up, and that’s the last thing Rey is doing. She plans to go back to school and get certified as a counsellor. Her experience and good heart has left her wanting to give back and help people.
There are no words for the trauma that these girls faced, but it is a testament to their strength and their closeness as they remain to find time for each other. As they banded together to keep the memory of their dear friend, MP alive. As they share their beautiful words and important thoughts, and truly demonstrate what loyal, loving, unconditional friendship is all about.