Possum Bourne


This is the letter I sent to Peggy Bourne, who lost her husband Possum in a hill climb recce accident. It was published in the NZ Speedsport Magazine, as a tribute to my friend Possum.


MESSAGE FROM ARI VATANEN - A letter to Peggy Bourne

Courtesy of NZ Speedsport Mag. June 2003 issue
Photo: Ari and Possum (Copyright)

Chère Peggy,

I was alone on our farm in South of France glancing at few days old Finnish newspaper when my eye caught a minuscule print from the other side of the world. I froze. This is not true!

Possum is in a critical condition after an accident. After my nearly fatal crash in Argentina I know what doctors mean by the word critical. A flame of life is faltering. Only a miracle can bring light to a dark horizon.

I thought of you Peggy. Only someone having been through the same ordeal can understand your internal storm. When you are consumed by fear and still fighting between despair and a glimmer of hope. You refuse to believe what you are seeing. My Rita knows the depth of that loneliness. After only one year of marriage on Christmas Eve she touched the cold face of her first husband Sulevi who had died in an aircraft crash. And she had to believe it. Now it was too late to share with him the jubilant news of her pregnancy.

We prayed for you Peggy and Possum. Seemingly in vain. But Possum's life was not in vain! His kind-heartedness got people out of their shells. His laughter was contagious and made us all feel good. I learnt from him how to treat fellow human beings. There may be drivers even faster than Possum but few have the same sincere humanity. Our lives can't be judged by a stop watch. He showed with his life that each of us must exploit to the full our talents. Difficult conditions must not deter us from following our convictions. Otherwise life will not advance. Possum's boat was not moored in a safe harbour but out there on the open water - with fully blown sails. He died fulfulling his dream.

The best go first.

Life is sometimes so discouraging that one feels not being able to go on. Peggy, you have to be strong now for your children and for yourself. Your grief is immense but the strength will come to you. The pain seems so unjust. The image of your brother David's funeral still moves me. The children of a missionary family from all over the world getting together to bury a young brother after a plane crash. I think also the fate of loyal Rodger Freeth.

This is all totally beyond our comprehension. Yet we know deep inside that His hand is on the rudder. Because for Him one second is like thousand years and thousand years is like one second. The real finish line is not in this time. We live in the hope of seeing again our loved ones. Possum's untimely departure is a reminder to us all to cherish our beloved while they are with us. We don't have all that many close friends. Every second counts.

Peggy, you brought richness to Possum's life. You must never torture yourself thinking that you should have been more loving or caring with Possum. Remember instead those inspiring moments together and all the wonderful things that only you two have known. When he embraced you so that your feet came off the ground and he spun you around.

Real relationships are never easy, they are intense. Nobody can take away the precious memories of your life together.

Your children are the diamonds of your life. Their bright eyes will help you go on day by day. Long awaited Spencer, Taylor and little Jazlin-princess would have needed their Daddy. At the age of Spencer I was with my father in our car when he got killed in an accident. Only much later I discovered that Dad I admired would not come back. I still miss him.

The show must go on.

Life is incredibly beautiful - because it is so fragile.

Peggy, paint your children a picture of the world Possum loved and that inspired him. They can be proud of him. They will certainly notice about their father what I too have witnessed: that only a truly committed person can rise above mediocrity.

Warm hug from Rita, me and the children.



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