Alexandra McFabulous Artful Dodger. That was her real name. I’m writing about her real life, one that ended tragically a few weeks ago when she was struck by a car going the wrong way on a one-way street in Ottawa. Alex was 27. The driver of the car, allegedly drunk, was 26. Alex was returning home at 3 a.m. from a night out with her friends and colleagues at a local pub. I don’t know where the young man who hit her had been. It is altogether heart-breaking and I am reminded, once again, at how hard it is to tell the legacy of an under-30-year-old.
Now I am filled with knowledge about Alex’s life and it is impressive. As one Toronto city councillor said, she had done more at 23 than most people do in a lifetime including, as friends pointed out, almost arresting George W. Bush for war crimes (for more information on this, read the upcoming obituary I’m writing on Alex or else check Amnesty International’s website from Ottawa).
Alex’s story hits home with me. I was once 27. Drinking in the pub with friends and strategizing about how to change the world. I always made it home. I will never make it as far as she has in the changing-the-world department. Her life also resonates with my life from another direction: she was a McGill student; my almost-20-year old son is currently a McGill student.
Young people fill my time in very different ways than they did during my years as one of them, back in my political activist days of the 1980s. But they certainly continue to fill my time and my head with dramatic images. So yeah, it’s a hard story to tell, this one about Alexandra Artful Dodger.
And then there’s the young man who struck and killed her. Another life lost, surely another life lost.