When used properly, a blanket feels like love.
Tara Bowie died in a single vehicle accident on Highway 3 near Cawston, at the age of 40, on Nov. 6, 2020.
And she had my blanket.
Tara moved to British Columbia from Ontario in October 2014, to work as an editor for Black Press in Keremeos.
She was a scrappy, award-winning journalist, and occasionally a trial for those to whom she reported.
Trust me about that.
In the east, Tara last worked for the daily Woodstock Sentinel Review.
There, she was responsible for much of the noise and laughter that is a necessary part of any newsroom, along with some of its best stories.
There were days she wore flip-flops to the office, and mornings she couldn’t find the keyboard on her workstation for all the notepaper and empty snack bags.
Tara actively abhorred what she called ‘corporate bull crap.’
She unapologetically spoke her mind, caring little if anything for what others thought.
She was easy to love, even while she was making you want to bang your own skull off the nearest door frame.
Every so often she didn’t come to work at all, having lost her keys or slept through her alarm or just forgot. But she’d plow through 24 hours straight on breaking news – the weekend the apartment building exploded leaps to mind – and she never cut up rough about staying late to help a colleague.
Tara possessed a unique gift for connecting with people, making it possible for her to tell their stories with integrity.
She’d also a stubborn respect for truth and right.
I remember best the November afternoon she was assigned to cover an SPCA raid at a local farm, where dozens of emaciated dogs were seized.
She dragged herself in hours later, soaking wet from rain and sleet. There were icicles in her hair.
I hurried to my office and grabbed a blanket, one kept there for necessities– yoga and naps.
It was a ridiculous thing, fuzzy blue with a big picture of a six-point buck. It cost less than $20 at a cheesy flea market stall.
I tucked it around her, heated some soup, and we sat together while she cried over pictures of abused animals. No one could argue the size or tenderness of Tara’s heart.
The next morning I popped down to the editorial department and asked for my blanket back.
‘What do you mean no?’
‘You gave me this blanket. It’s mine.’
‘For crying out loud Tara I didn’t give you the blanket, I loaned you the blanket.’
It hung over her chair and I snatched it up.
If it’s not too painful, picture two grown women in a professional setting having a literal tug of war over a fuzzy blue blanket.
For dignity’s sake I let her win. But it became a running joke between us. Every once in a while I’d say, ‘Hey I want my blanket.’ She’d coolly reply that I didn’t have a blanket. She had a blanket. She said I would never get it back.
Last week, while going through her things with her mom Nancy, it was there. She’d moved house at least six times since that day in the newsroom, including one massive leap across the country when she could only bring what she could fit in her car.
Nancy said it would be best if I took the blanket.
I buried my face in the warm, blue fuzzies. To give flight to fancy, I could almost hear that very big Tara voice crying ‘No. No. No. She can’t have it!’
And it felt like love.