1997 - 2018 (21 years)
||Tatiana Blackburn |
||life story, accident, misfortune |
|killed in car accident |
|Eby ID Number
||10 Aug 2018
||20 Aug 2020 |
- Cambridge woman, 20, killed in highway crash just days after her boyfriend proposed
She chose joy and Jesus and dreamed of helping the world
by Jeff Outhit Waterloo Region Record
CAMBRIDGE Tatiana Blackburn was in love at 20, returning from a life-changing road trip to Western Canada with her musician fiancé and their dog.
Matthew Collins was her boyfriend when they began their trip. But when they reached Saskatchewan on Aug. 8 to visit his family homestead, he asked her to marry him. She said yes.
On Friday, Blackburn was killed in a crash on a rainy Wisconsin highway in the U.S.
The bride-to-be saw and accomplished a lot in a short life filled with travel, church and service. There was still so much she wanted to do. "My dream is to travel the world and help people," she wrote on her online blog.
Schoolmates are leaning on the Christian faith they shared with her.
"We're all lamenting and grieving, and yet hanging on to our faith in the midst of it," said Rick Reed, president of Heritage College and Seminary, the Baptist bible college Blackburn attended in Cambridge.
Reed taught her and saw her on campus where she always gave him a smile and a hello. "She was one of those ones that was a bright light. I think that's why it's hitting everyone very hard," he said.
Blackburn put a rich, detailed account of her life and feelings online. She was determined to tell the world what mattered to her.
Her faith mattered. "The more I get to know Jesus, the more I am astounded by his grace," she wrote.
Matt mattered. "Fun fact: I've fallen in love," she wrote last March. "I know '97 it's hard for me to believe as well. But here I am, going into the fifth month of a relationship and I am madly, hopelessly in love."
Mad enough to share her advice on love and how to make it last. It seems wise beyond her years: desire the one you love, say you're sorry first, find a grace-filled person, figure out how they feel loved, and talk to each other.
The couple's public Instagram posts show them exploring their relationship and the country before it went so wrong. They were on a road trip to remember.
"I made an official promise to my best friend today that I'm willing to spend forever with her," Collins wrote from Saskatchewan.
He proposed to her at his family homestead "because I believe that to know where you're going, you need to know where you've been! I hope my ancestors are proud today."
Blackburn rocked her new ring. 'Can't wait to take this hottie's last name," she wrote in a post that earned 267 likes. In another post: "I shall be unashamed of all the ring pictures I'm gonna post."
The couple got right to telling their delighted friends, and to planning their wedding in October.
But first they visited Alberta, where Blackburn enjoyed an ice cream at the West Edmonton Mall and had "a lovely day with a lovely husband to be."
In Banff the "day had a rough start but I'm thankful for the ability to choose to have a good day and to choose joy and to have a fiancé who makes sure every day is perfection."
The couple planned to marry in Peru, in South America. Blackburn was raised in Barrie but lived more recently in Peru. Her missionary parents, Scott and Tracy, moved in 2014 to Puerto Maldonado to run an orphanage for children who have suffered abuse. It's a small, remote city in the Amazon rainforest.
Blackburn's time abroad shaped her. Jesus "asked me to move to a new country and learn a new language and culture. He's asked me to give up my entire life to serve him and to do things that seem crazy to other people," she wrote. She also visited Cuba and Haiti and was moved by the poverty she saw.
Returning to Canada in 2016 challenged her.
"I would break down crying when I heard English worship music at church," she wrote. "I was always shocked that I could drink tap water, flush a toilet and walk into a grocery store and find everything I needed."
Sometimes she would just walk around Walmart to take in all the sights.
Blackburn died Friday just after 5 a.m. in the dark on Interstate 39 near Madison, Wis. It's a common route through the U.S. for southern Ontarians returning from Western Canada.
"We were having heavy rain," said Sgt. Gary Helgerson, of the Wisconsin State Patrol.
Their Honda Civic lost control and struck the centre median. The car then collided with a pickup truck and spun out into the path of a delivery van that broadsided it.
Blackburn, the passenger in the car, was killed. The man, 24, who was driving the car was injured and taken to hospital but is expected to survive.
Wisconsin police have not named him as Collins, pending notifications. Their dog Benji also died in the crash, which is under investigation.
In presenting herself to the world, Blackburn wrote about faith and challenges and loneliness and joy. She wrote about airports, movies and television, bikinis and her love for cheesecake.
She drafted a bucket list. It seems she never got to write a book or swim with dolphins or get married or see the Eiffel Tower.
But she was able to cross off falling in love, riding a horse on a beach, getting a tattoo and completely filling a journal.
"She had a faith that was bigger than this life. And so that kind of buoys us, in the midst of our sadness," said Reed, her college president.
He turns to scripture: grieve but not as those who have no hope. "I think if we didn't have faith in Christ at this point, it would be a black hole and there would no light," he said.
"And so we're hanging on to that. But it doesn't minimize the sadness and the deep, deep grief that people are feeling."
Last January Blackburn wrote this: "When I write about things I'm passionate about or even just spill my many, many emotions onto a page, I feel calmer. I feel like I can survive. I feel like I'm contributing something. I feel at peace ...
"It doesn't matter if no one clicks on the link to this blog or if everyone in the world thinks I'm a terrible writer. I write because I love it, because it heals me, because it's a God-given desire ...
"And I'm gonna keep writing and writing and writing, even if zero people read these words, I'm gonna keep writing."
Read her words. They are full of life.
Outhit, J. (2018). Cambridge woman, 20, killed in highway crash just days after her boyfriend proposed. TheRecord.com. Retrieved 19 August 2018, from https://www.therecord.com/news-story/8847631-cambridge-woman-20-killed-in-highway-crash-just-days-after-her-boyfriend-proposed/