Five years ago last month, I lost a friend and colleague in a way I never imagined. She was stabbed to death in her home by her landlord, who then went on to murder his wife and two of his young daughters. It's nightmarish beyond belief, and unfortunately, waking up doesn't make it go away. Amber Bowerman was a gifted writer and editor, and she also mentored new writers. Add to that, she was just one kick-ass human being. Following her tragic death, a bunch of us fellow writers and friends gathered together to form the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation (AWBMF) to honour and preserve Amber's memory and to carry on her legacy of helping emerging writers. I felt so helpless that this had happened; such an appalling and senseless tragedy, and creating this charity was one way to try to ease the pain and make something good come from the bad. I'm pleased to say that we have managed a fair bit of good. To date, we've raised more than $66,000 and dispersed it through student scholarships, awards and programs. And, we've done it completely through volunteers, dispersing 100% of donations and more than 90% of fundraising efforts. So what does this have to do with parenting, you wonder? In the time since Amber has passed, I've had my little girl. Having the perspective of a parent now, the shock of what happened is further amplified, to think that a parent did this to his children. But ultimately, it's about Amber's mom, Susan. My heart goes out to her as she still suffers every day, from the grief of losing her daughter. I felt for her from day one, but now, knowing what it is to be a mother, I can't even fathom her pain. It just goes to show that it doesn't matter how old your kids are, they are still your kids. And losing them is not something any parent is prepared to deal with, ever. On the fifth anniversary of Amber's death, we held a press conference to announce our new partnerships and invited Amber's family to attend. Susan later sent us this note: Thank you for making today such a great experience. I wasn't sure if I would be ok but you all made it easier. Thank you for your hard work and dedication. Lolly [Amber's aunt] and I went to visit Amber at her beautiful spot over looking the city, so peaceful. I shared my day with her and told her how much she is missed. I am so thankful you all were in her life. This sentiment means as much to me as all the beneficiaries we've helped so far. She's thanked us many times in the past five years, but this time, I felt like some true healing had begun. To know that we are helping Amber's mom cope, even just a bit, makes it all worthwhile. Everything we do at the foundation, we do as though Amber were here guiding us. We choose programs she would have wanted to participate in; our major fundraiser is the Sugar Bowl--a fun lawn bowling tournament because it was something she loved to do. So while the work is charitable, it's also a bit self-serving. It helps us keep Amber's memory alive and to connect with others to continue to celebrate her spirit. Ultimately, this terrible heartbreak has taught me that no matter what happens in life, it's important to focus on the positive. And while it's impossible for me not to tear up at the very thought of Amber's death, remembering her life quickly brings a smile to my face. Donations may be made at amberbowerman.ca.