While it pales in comparison to the loss they experienced a year ago, Mabel and C.K. Chan are baffled over the recent theft of a dozen roses placed at their son's memorial site near Lafarge Lake.
Mabel told The NOW Monday that a dozen long-stemmed roses were taken one day earlier from the memorial site, which was meant as a place to celebrate the life of Leo, who died last year at the age of 19 after contracting the Y strain of meningitis.
Sunday's theft came two days after the Chans commemorated the one-year anniversary of Leo's death.
"I don't know who would do this," Mabel said. "Nobody would go to a cemetery to take these types of things. I can't even explain this."
Mabel said the flowers were placed at the site by a family friend on Friday. The Chans, however, were in Victoria at the time at an event celebrating Leo's life with his former classmates and professors at the University of Victoria (UVic).
As a result, Sunday was the first opportunity Mabel and C.K. had to see the flowers. The couple, along with family friends, went to the memorial plaque in the late afternoon and then left the site between 3 and 4 p.m.
Upon returning an hour later, the flowers were gone.
"I'm not even that mad anymore because after what I've gone through, what is a little flower? It is nothing after what I've gone through, and the friend of mine who bought the flowers feels the same way," Mabel said.
But for all the negative emotions Sunday's theft stirred up, Mabel isn't looking for retribution or punishment.
"What we are worried about is that this is very bad karma for whoever has done this," she said. "Maybe this person does not know any better."
Instead of dwelling on Sunday's theft, both Mabel and C.K. were focused on the events
that preceded it - namely the three days they spent in Victoria celebrating Leo's life late last week.
A candlelight ceremony was held in Leo's honour, while his former classmates, friends and professors reflected on his short, but prodigious life.
"Everybody felt that love and energy," Mabel said.
"It was a mixed feeling for me, but I felt the love of his friends. I strongly felt his presence and the love for him through his friends."
On top of those ceremonies and moments of reflection, the Chans also awarded the inaugural Leo Chan Memorial Scholarship to fourth-year UVic political science student Sasha Gronsdahl. Both Mabel and C.K. met Gronsdahl to personally give her the $1,000 scholarship, though the outgoing student didn't know the origins of Leo's story, nor why the scholarship had been established.
"It was bittersweet," C.K. said. "After talking with her, she was very touched and then very appreciative of the goodwill expressed by our friends and donors all over the world."
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