Family comforted by words of support for injured Clarice
On May 30, Clarice Cardinal Anderson, 36, was out for a jog with a friend in a residential area near her Edmonton home. Although exercise was a regular part of her lifestyle, she was also preparing to run in the Heart and Stroke Foundation half marathon this past weekend in Edmonton.
Tragedy struck when Clarice and her jogging partner were near an intersection, on a sidewalk. A vehicle is presumed to have run a yield sign, hitting another vehicle, creating a chain of events that would find Clarice trapped underneath one of the vehicles, explains her sister, Terri Suntjens. All of Clarice’s ribs were broken, her lungs collapsed, her spine had been fractured and required surgery, she had numerous cuts and bruising, her wrist was broken, and a few days later, doctors discovered her jaw had been broken, which also required surgery.
Clarice is originally from Saddle Lake and is a St. Paul Regional High School graduate. She has many family ties still in the area, including Suntjens, who works in the Kehewin, Cold Lake and Frog Lake areas.
Just a couple blocks away from the accident scene, Clarice’s husband, Aaron Paquette, was at home with the couple’s one-year-old son Liam, when he heard about the accident. He rushed to the scene, where his wife was already in an ambulance.
On May 31, Paquette posted a heartfelt message on his Facebook page, letting people know what had happened. In that message, he noted that his wife has lots of passions, that she loved to teach, do yoga, dance and snuggle with her baby. “She will not be snuggling with our baby for a very long time. She won’t be doing any of the things she loves,” he wrote, adding, “Right now, she has tubes all over her, keeping her still, sedated, and alive. Because someone couldn’t wait three seconds at a yield sign. Because someone wasn’t paying attention as they drove a 1,500 pound weapon.”
After urging people to be cautious while driving, he added, “And please, pray for my wife and especially for our little one who already misses his mommy. We are blessed. She is alive.”
The response he received from that post has been overwhelming, says Suntjens, adding her brother-in-law didn’t want to have to explain things over and over, and posting the message was his way of dealing with the crisis. He was not expecting such a huge response.
His postings are now reaching thousands of people, who offer words of hope and support. The support and prayers have been overwhelming and have “made a positive impact on Clarice’s healing,” he said in a private message sent to the St. Paul Journal.
“I know for us, we found comfort in reading through all the prayers and messages,” says Suntjens. She added that to the amazement of Clarice’s family and doctors, she has been healing very quickly. “She is sore, but she is in good spirits.”
Doctors initially estimated Clarice would be on a respirator for about a week, but they were able to take her off within a few days. Doctors also estimated she would be in ICU for one to two weeks, but just a few days after the accident, she was moved out of ICU.
On June 13, less than two weeks after the accident, Paquette posted a video on his Facebook page, letting the world know his wife, with a nurse at her side, was walking.
Beyond the words of comfort and prayer, there has also been a huge outpouring of financial support. A stranger donated $1,000 worth of household items from a grocery store to help Paquette and Liam while Clarice is in hospital. Another person working at the hospital had been following Clarice’s story and gathered donations to purchase a $750 gift care to Lululemon, a yoga apparel store, for Clarice to use later, says Suntjens.
Monetary donations from Dr. Anne Mageau and Sherri Chisan, who both work at Blue Quills College, will help pay for some of Liam’s child care. Clarice had just gone back to work as a teacher a couple months ago after taking maternity leave, says Suntjens.
A fundraiser is also being held on June 23 in Edmonton, called Compassion for Clarice.
As for Paquette, who has been at his wife’s side as much as possible, he would like to remind people “to slow down, pay attention on the road, and drive like someone's life depended on your safety. It does.
“Get home safe to your family. Let others get home safe to theirs. No meeting or deadline or job is worth more than someone's life. You don't want to live in regret for something you could have easily prevented.”
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