September 18, 2013 - Shane Hrischuk should have celebrated his 16th birthday over the weekend.
Michelle Hrischuk sits quietly beside her son Shane's grave in Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
But instead of having balloons hanging outside his house, he had them floating beside his grave.
Next to them sat his mother, Michelle Hrischuk, as she took a moment to pause during the Second Annual Tour de Shane Bike-a-thon held Saturday along the Polly Ann Trail. For event photos, see Page 32.
"I'm mad," she said. "I'm angry that he didn't think about beautiful days like this."
In January 2012, Shane, an Oxford Middle School eighth-grader, took his own life. His death came as a shock to the community as he was a popular student who excelled at both academic and sports.
Tour de Shane riders cross W. Burdick St. as they continue along the Polly Ann Trail. (click for larger version)
"He made a snap decision," Michelle said. "He didn't think about driving with all of his friends or his first day of high school or maybe his brother's wedding.
"I'm just angry that he didn't talk to us about (what was bothering him). We're mad we don't know why (he killed himself)."
Michelle tries to visit his grave as often as she can. "It's hard sometimes to sit there and look at it," she said. "There are good days and there are bad days."
Shane's father Joe Hrischuk visits his son's grave every day.
"I know he's with you everywhere you go, but I come up here just to have my time with him," he said.
Some days Joe's mad. Some days he's happy. But no matter how he's feeling, he always wonders why Shane decided to end his life.
"Sometimes I don't say anything to him," Joe said. "I just look away or stand there for a little bit."
Both Michelle and Joe are very grateful to all the people who contributed to or participated in this year's Tour de Shane.
"The support that we got today was a lot bigger than I expected," Michelle said. "It's so emotional – lots of tears."
Joe called the community support both "outstanding" and "unbelievable."
Although he appreciates everything that everyone's doing to keep his son's memory alive and prevent others from following that same dark path, nothing can ever fill the void left by Shane's passing.
"When it's all said and done, we still don't have him here," Joe said.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.