By David F. Rooney
They came by the hundreds from all over town, from the Island and the Lower Mainland, from Alberta and even from abroad to bid farewell Wednesday to Daniel Levesque, the promising young local man who was murdered in Victoria last week.
Punctuated by tributes from friends and family, a slide show of Daniel from birth to young adulthood and the music he so enjoyed, the 20-year-old’s celebration of life at the Community Centre was by turns emotionally wrenching, affectionate, painful and bittersweet. The more than 700 mourners smiled and chuckled at the images of the infant Daniel and some of the stories told about him. But the smiles highlighted their sense of loss.
The men and women who attended were not grieving solely for the loss of a genuinely much-loved and respected youth. Their mourning was, in a certain sense, for all of us, too, because our community has been greatly diminished by the loss of such a talented and universally liked young man.
And Daniel’s talent was recognized in the music industry, too. Matt Gibbs, the sound engineer at Electric City Sound in Victoria where Jamie Fitchett had helped Daniel record a song on July 29, just days before his death said in a letter delivered to Daniel’s family that “the second he picked up the guitar and started singing I knew he had something special.”
That letter was delivered to the family with a copy of the song Daniel recorded. The recording was played in public for the first time at Daniel’s Celebration of Life and deeply moved all who heard it.
Led by Pastor Matthew Carter of the Alliance Church, friends and family read from his poetry, talked about their favourite memories and reflected on his intelligence, keen wit and musical aptitude. They also recalled his first inkling of mortality when his younger brother Kristian died 16 years ago.
“Daniel, my Daniel,” said his mother, Stacey Thur. “My heart bursts. You held my hand when we said goodbye to your brother. You wiped my tears… I will never be the same again. Oh, my beautiful son, I will miss you.”
Her anguish was echoed by pain that tormented Daniel’s father.
“One of Daniel’s traits that I admired most was ability to share his feelings,” Steven Levesque said before reading a deeply emotional poem, entitled My Boy, and then expressing his own anguished emotional states,
“I am angry at the cowardly predator who would take all of your strength. And I am sad that I’ll never look in your eyes again… and I’m hurt that I was never able to protect you the way I did when you were little.”
Aunt Sonia Cinelli said the words Daniel wrote in his poems are etched deeply in her heart while Grandfather Paul Levesque wrote about the youngster who would lovingly tease him. He loved watching Daniel grow into a fine young man and hoped his dreams would be fulfilled.
“I can just imagine what he could have accomplished,” Paul wrote in a letter read to the celebrants by Gary Sulz. “But we’ll never know will we?
“I was very thankful there was a Daniel in my life even though he wasn’t here long enough.”
He urged everyone to enjoy the people in their lives and to celebrate life at every instance because “you never know — tomorrow may never come.”
In the end, Daniel was carried away from the Community Centre by long-time friends Joel Thur, Jackson Yauck, Julian Romeo, Kyle Boaz, Kurt Clayton, Kayne Cameron, John Fitchett, Taylor Roberts, Jordan Andrykew and Coleson Lecompte. He was to be cremated and his remains interred in the family plot at Mountain View Cemetery.
Here are some words penned in 2010 by Daniel that were included in his memorial card:
I have loved, I have lost
I’ve moved on and on and on
I have given, I have taken
I have made, I have broken
I have heard
I have spoken
When I knocked
The door was opened
I’ve been loved, I’ve been blessed
I know that you, too, know the rest
A lifelong debt paid in full
Until the end, how should we know?
Who will fall, who will rise
For it is not us who decides.
Messages of condolence may be sent to the family by visiting Daniel’s obituary at: www.brandonbowersfuneralhome.com.