It has been a rough start to the New Year, to say the least. My friend and colleague, Michelle Lang, was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on Dec. 30 while embedded with Canadian troops. I’ve posted some of the columns I’ve written about Michelle on this site.
The worldwide reaction to her death was overwhelming, but understandable. Michelle was the first Canadian journalist killed in Afghanistan and she touched many lives in her brief 34 years. I sat next to her daily for six of those years and she was sweet, caring, funny and humble despite winning Canada’s highest award in journalism, a National Newspaper Award in 2009. She was pretty, engaged to be married and wanted to be a mom. She would have made a great one, just as she was a great journalist.
For her birthday one year I went to a joke shop and bought her a small package of “Bitch” detergent. The box read that it had a patented “bitch remover” guaranteed to get the bitch out of anyone. It was such an absurd gift because in a business where there can be plenty of bitchiness, Michelle was anything but.
In terms of waking hours per week, I probably saw more of Michelle than I saw my own sweet wife, Gloria. I am tremendously saddened by Michelle’s random death, caused when her light armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device on the outskirts of Kandahar city. Four Canadian soldiers died with her. It is so tragic and unfair. Michelle was in a non-combat convoy and was en route to do a story on reconstruction efforts. She especially wanted to tell stories of ordinary Afghans, especially Afghan women.
Me and my colleagues at the Calgary Herald have yet to come to terms with her death.