In September 2009, Major Yannick Pépin, 36, was killed in a powerful roadside bomb blast that hit the armoured vehicle he was travelling in. At the time, he was serving in Afghanistan. A Combat Engineer by trade, Major Yannick Pépin was serving with 5 Combat Engineer Regiment based in Valcartier, QC.
Major Yannick Pépin’s spouse, Annie Roberge, shares her story of dealing with her grief and the loss of her husband.
My name is Annie Roberge. I am the former spouse to Major Yannick Pépin, who died in combat in September 2009, and mom to two adorable little ones, Charles and Alexandra Pépin.
Yannick left this world at a very hectic moment in our lives, on September 6th, 2009, while I was preparing for our move set to happen on the 10th and getting ready to start a new job on the 14th. It wasn’t an easy task!
It was time to take a break from work and think about myself: I reconsidered my whole range of values. Before then, all my energies were devoted to my work, my spouse, my kids, my friends, and, at the very end of that list, to myself.
I forgot many of the events that marked the first year after his death: I was in my own little world, and I firmly believe a part of me was still waiting for him to come home, confirming this had all been a bad dream. The nightmare became real when I saw on television the Major who followed Yannick on the mission came home to his wife and kids. On this day, it became apparent he wasn’t coming back.
Time to Shift Focus
It was time to take a break from work and think about myself: I reconsidered my whole range of values. Before then, all my energies were devoted to my work, my spouse, my kids, my friends, and, at the very end of that list, to myself. Now, I can proudly say my priority is to ensure my own happiness, my kids’ happiness and then everyone else’s. I hold on to what is most precious in my life: myself and my kids, the best heritage Yannick has left behind.
This being said I can’t say I ever really let go of him. To this day, I still try and make his dreams a reality. For example, before leaving for deployment, he told the kids he would buy them a dog when he came home. Of course, the kids never forgot his promise! So, a couple of years later, I brought home our little Yorkshire, Pouffy. Another example: Yannick always wanted to own a ‘real’ truck. Well, be it. There is one in our driveway now! All of this to say, I still think of him in every decision I make.
My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to provide my kids with all the tools they needed to succeed in their life. You know, a mom can answer a lot of questions, but she can’t replace the presence of a dad. I still believe children need their two parents in their life. Thankfully, the men in my entourage have, and still do, help me a lot in this department. I can say I have done well, better than I expected to have done!
In everything that I do, or that the kids do, I hope that he can see us and that he is proud of us: the first goal his daughter scored at soccer, the medals she won, her elementary school graduation, her first year of high school, her success in her referee course, her first game as a referee; his son’s golf courses, his first game with his grandfather… and so on! I’m also proud to say I have started a new training program and ran my first 10 km 6 years after he passed. After each and every one of these events, I look up to the sky and thank him for taking such good care of us.
Feel His Presence
Amongst the most difficult moments since Yannick has left us, I can name the personal and professional accomplishments of his friends. For example, I saw pictures of a friend of his who was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel recently, whereas Yannick never had a chance to make it that far in his career. It’s when these little moments happen that I miss him the most.
I still talk to him often, on good and bad days. It can be difficult not to have clear answers to my questions, but I can still feel his presence somewhere, and I’m convinced he is looking out for us. Life will never be the same without him, but we can only keep moving up and be thankful he once shared our lives.
Plus, Yannick wouldn’t want us to be miserable.
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The story was submitted by Annie Roberge, translated by Genevieve Trudeau, and edited by Cyndi Mills.