Sometimes — after years of struggle, heartache and healing — the smallest gift can have the biggest impact.
For RCMP Cpl. Scott Kirychuk, who is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), one such present arrived unexpectedly in early March at his home in Kitimat, on British Columbia's north coast.
It was a hand-crafted afghan blanket.=
"I came home after work and there was a package," says Kirychuk. "My wife seemed emotional, in a happy, teary sort of way, and told me to open it. So I opened it up and there was a card and a blanket."
The yellow and blue afghan — knitted with policing colours in mind — was made and sent by Ann Seggie, who lives in Fort McMurray, Alta. The small-business owner, mother and grandmother has created hundreds of blankets for stressed first responders throughout North America and Europe.
"I just wanted to make something for them that provided a little bit of comfort and something that would say 'thank you,' " says Seggie, who grew up in an army family in England. "There just seems to be so much hate in the world lately, and a lot of it is directed towards cops."
Kirychuk has been receiving treatment for his PTSD for almost two years.
He can't pinpoint one event that caused it but he does acknowledge "seeing a lot" during his combined 20-plus-year career with the RCMP and as an emergency medical service responder in Saskatchewan.
"My wife said there was something not right with me. After work I just wanted to be by myself," Kirychuk says. "I was at the lowest point in my life."
Eventually Kirychuk found his way to a doctor, began receiving regular treatment and repaired a fractured relationship with his wife.
"I got better by getting a handle on what I was going through and opening up," he says. "I don't care who knows that I have been diagnosed with PTSD. I am not ashamed."
Each one of Seggie's afghans is created with a variety of colours and patterns, and knitted with the individual's type of work in mind. She finds recipients through social and traditional media, and sometimes through word of mouth. And while Seggie says she doesn't create the blankets for any recognition, the gesture is appreciated by people like Kirychuk.
"It just made me feel good that there are people out there who care," he says.