Grieving mom returns to Calgary to meet mystery man who shared her son’s dying moments

Grieving mom returns to Calgary to meet mystery man who shared her son’s dying moments
WATCH: A grieving mom who lost her teenage son to suicide in Calgary has spent the last two years searching for any sense of closure. As Jill Croteau reports, she's been on a desperate hunt to find the last person who saw him alive.

Kian Mark Brotherton-Barkley, 15, was a generous, compassionate boy living in Calgary. But his family said he was suffering and he thought the only way out was to take his own life.

His mom, Tanya Zaayer, is still devastated by his loss.

“I miss his compliments the most. He was a good boy. He was a sweet boy who just needed a chance,” she said.

Kian stepped off the Stony Trail bridge on Aug. 12, 2017. He didn’t survive. Zaayer has been tortured ever since, knowing she wasn’t there to protect him — but someone was: a man who held his hand in those final moments.

Tanya Zaayer and her son, Kian.
Tanya Zaayer and her son, Kian. Courtesy: Tanya Zaayer
“It saved my life a few times knowing he wasn’t alone because the guilt I had,” Zaayer said. “Knowing he wasn’t alone, it alleviated that and gave me peace and diligence to find [the man]. I wanted to thank him.”
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Due to privacy concerns, the contact information was never passed along.

For the past two years, Zaayer had been looking to find him. Eventually, she did. The two connected on the second anniversary of Kian’s death. For the first time, she was able to hug the stranger, Clare Falk. They met at Fish Creek Park on Monday and shared a long conversation together.

“There was always that gratitude he didn’t die alone, that he wasn’t there laying cold and broken and by himself and you made a big difference in my grieving process,” Zaayer said to Falk.

Kian Mark Brotherton-Barkley.
Kian Mark Brotherton-Barkley. Courtesy: Tanya Zaayer
“I tried getting ahold of you because I thought if it was one of mine, I would want to know if there was somebody there,” Falk told Zaayer. “I would want to know what happened, if he said anything, whether he [was] hurt or cried, and he didn’t say a thing.
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“He was at peace. Whatever pain he had, it was gone.”

It was something that haunted Falk. He always wondered who this boy was. He needed to share his story with the one person who wanted the truth.

“You can rest assured there was someone there when he slipped to the other side. There was someone to take him there,” Falk said to Zaayer.

They both believe that Falk was meant to be on that bridge that day. Zaayer said a new layer of healing can now happen.

“There’s something about looking in his eyes. I’m glad I met him. I feel like, in a way, I got to see Kian because that was the last person who touched him,” Zaayer said.