One year after her daughter’s heart-breaking death, Quinn’s mom, Andrea Gosse, talks love, hope, and memories that will live on forever
Quinn Butt didn’t live to start kindergarten with one of her best friends, Lilly. Nor did she live to take to the ice for her first figure skating lesson, or continue her attempts at learning to swim. However, it’s the memories of what her daughter did do during her five short years on this earth that keeps Andrea Gosse going.
Quinn was her shopping buddy, her pussycat, her best friend, Gosse said during an interview at her home on March 27.
“I’d call her ‘Mom’s Puss.’ I remember getting out of the car and walking into the house ahead of her. She’d say, ‘Mom, don’t forget your pusser.’ I can still hear her voice saying that,” Gosse said almost a year after her daughter’s death.
Quinn loved picking out her own clothes, getting a pedicure and having her nails painted as much as she loved family trips to Florida and skating on the pond behind her home in Paradise. At age four she learned to ride a bike without the training wheels, her mother said proudly.
“And she loved Taylor Swift. At one point she used to say her name was Quinn Taylor Swift Butt.”
Quinn loved climbing at Axtion and baking cakes and cookies at home with her mom. She loved babies and other children as much as she loved to dance. Whether Hip Hop, Jazz, Tap or Ballet, the child looked forward to her lessons and performances. “Quinn was in Ballet in Bay Roberts then, when we moved in here, she went to Revolutions Dance (in Mount Pearl).”
Both dance studios performed a tribute to Quinn at their year-end celebrations.
Gosse goes into another room and brings out a tiny pair of pink ballet slippers and a beautifully framed picture of her daughter in her dance outfit. Two more cherished mementos.
A pink and purple playground named Quinn’s Place erected at Paradise Elementary opened in August 2016. It’s the community where Gosse wanted the playground erected. Quinn was supposed to start Kindergarten at the school in September 2016.
“Quinn went to two days of Kinderstart … Her teacher wrote me and said just by those two classes, she saw Quinn’s personality and just how much of a vibrant little girl she was.”
A stranger named Adam Stead started the fundraising initiative for the playground, Gosse said. Stead, who has since become a family friend, is now planning to erect another playground in Quinn’s memory in Carbonear.
“We’re hoping that each year there will be a playground for Quinn in a different community,” Gosse said.
Gosse has moved from Paradise where the family was living at the time of Quinn’s death. She and her partner Matthew Chafe plan on moving back to the town a little later down the road.
“I just couldn’t go back (to the house) without her,” she said.
Quinn’s death on April 24, 2016 resonated with people throughout the province and beyond.
“The minute we found out Quinn was gone, everybody started pouring in their love and support … a few days after she passed away a group in our area (Quinn and her mother lived in Carbonear before moving to Paradise when Quinn was four years old) put together a candlelight vigil that was so moving.”
The vigil (held at a soccer field in Harbour Grace) drew thousands of people. Many wore pink and purple – Quinn’s favourite colours.
“To see thousands of candles glowing for Quinn was phenomenal,” Gosse said.
‘Light it up Quinn.’
The vigil also included the release of hundreds of pink and purple balloons, in Quinn’s memory. People from various parts of the world who could not attend the vigil took to Facebook to show their support by lighting a candle in her memory. “I got a picture from Brazil. It was a bunch of men out on an oil-rig with a big sign with the hash tag ‘Light it up Quinn.’”
Gosse also received pictures of groups of schoolchildren in schools throughout the province wearing pink and purple to celebrate Quinn.
There is also an annual Ride for Quinn, and an annual bursary in Quinn’s name. A motorcycle ride (organized by Elena Parsons) was also held in Ontario with money raised going to support women and children experiencing domestic violence in that province.
Closer to home, children and youth who stay at Iris Kirby House (a shelter for women and children who are experiencing domestic violence) will also benefit from initiatives undertaken in Quinn’s memory.
The Town of Harbour Grace is also planning to erect a memorial to Quinn.
From fundraising walks to personal donations to worthy causes in Quinn’s name – people have found their own ways celebrate to the child’s life.
“Quinn’s best friend, Cole, he had a ball hockey team in a tournament. They were called ‘Quinn’s boys.’”
There are Justice for Quinn hair bows, ribbons and car magnets.
Some people composed songs and poems in the child’s memory while others reached out to Gosse personally, sending paintings of Quinn and engraved jewelry with pictures of the child.
Gosse celebrated Quinn’s sixth birthday on February 17 by hosting a general skating party in Bay Roberts.
‘overwhelmed with love’
The celebrations of her daughter’s life over the past year – by family, friends and strangers – helps Gosse face each day.
“You’ve lost your child and you feel like you can’t go on. But you’re overwhelmed with love. It’s so sad but it really does help,” she said of the numerous initiatives in her daughter’s memory.
Gosse – who often sleeps with Quinn’s sweater – said it’s impossible to thank everybody who has reached out to her family since her daughter’s death.
Celebrating her life is something Gosse plans on doing well into the future. “What do you do … Quinn was my world … But you can’t just crumble. I would rather take part in these celebrations. I refuse to shut down… And I want people to know that Quinn would love all of this.”