While “nothing can take away the unimaginable hell” the family of a 19-year-old killed in a south London, Ont., crash last week is experiencing, the father is remembering his daughter as a “beautiful” young woman, calling on the community to “look for things to appreciate about the people you love.”
In multiple blog posts on Substack, Jason MacKenzie has outlined his emotions in the days since losing his eldest daughter Chloe in a head-on collision on Wednesday evening.
“As I’m writing this, it’s been just 61.5 hours since Chloe passed. Somehow it feels like a year already, and it also feels like it hasn’t happened at all,” he wrote.
Police said Chloe MacKenzie died in hospital as a result of her injuries following a two-vehicle collision on Bostwick Road, between Southdale and Wharncliffe roads, around 7:20 p.m. on Feb. 1.
Four others were rushed to hospital with injuries ranging from serious to life-threatening. The cause of the collision is still under investigation, according to police.
“The cop asked me to sit down,” MacKenzie recalled. “I don’t remember much of what he said other than the only thing that mattered; She didn’t make it.
“Unbelievably, the nightmare repeats itself,” he said, explaining that Chloe’s mother had died in March 2010.
“Nothing I can do is going to take the pain away, and I’m not trying to take the pain away,” he said. “I need to fully experience the pain of my daughter’s death. But at the same time, I have much more self-awareness about what I’m experiencing.”
MacKenzie told Global News that he started writing a book about grief but stopped in the weeks leading up to his daughter’s death, saying that “I guess the universe wasn’t ready for me to change the subject yet.”
Through his recent blog posts, he said that he’s “heard from people all over the world not only about how heartbreaking this is, but how it’s really helped them think differently about their own grief and their own loss.”
“Writing is therapeutic,” he continued. “It’s one of the best things you can do to support your own mental health. But I think for me, while I’m helping myself with writing, if I can help somebody else who’s reading it, that helps me too.”
But MacKenzie said that now, as he grapples with the recent loss of his daughter, he has “so many incredible people in my life that I didn’t have the first time.”
“They are all stepping up in ways that are so beautiful and so touching that I almost can’t believe it,” he wrote. “Except I can, because that’s who they are.”
Following the fatal crash, a pickup hockey game has been organized for this Friday at the London Sports Park as a fundraiser for the MacKenzie family as well as the family of Jacob Cloney, one of the passengers who was seriously injured in the collision.
A GoFundMe has also been set up in support of both families.
MacKenzie thanked the organizers for their “tremendous amount of support,” and said “every single thing that is happening in relation to these fundraisers, it’s driven by young people.”
“I’m just so impressed by young people today and how much power they have to make a positive change in the world,” he said. “It just gives me such an unbelievable amount of hope and optimism for the future, the way these teenagers’ have stepped up and are going so far above and beyond to make a positive contribution in a really difficult time.”
Additionally, London Heat Cheerleading, where Chloe was a former member, shared their condolences on social media following her death.
“We are sending our love to her family and all of our coaching staff and athletes,” read the post. “Chloe was a bright light in any day. She found joy in everything and what we can do now is continue living the Chloe way… with love, joy and kindness.”
As a whole, MacKenzie said he’s “realized how many people care about me and our family.”
“I’ve had countless people reach out and tell them how my relationship with Chloe inspired them to be better dads to their own kids,” he said. “In that way, Chloe’s legacy will live on in some small way in families all over the world.”
“RIP Chloe,” he said. “I love being your dad and I always will.”