In Remembrance

In the fall of 1988 I joined McKinsey & Company, a management consultancy, in its Toronto office. One of the members of the Canadian Practice was Hanne-Maria Maijala Root. I knew her as Hanne-Maria Maijala because she had only recently married John Root and her name was not yet changed in the office listing. Hanne-Maria knew New York City well and when I spoke to her about a trip I was planning to make to NYC in December I asked her if she had some recommendations on places to eat , favorite book shops etc. She came back the next day with four, tightly spaced handwritten pages of detailed notes on places to see and things to do.

I made my trip to New York and faithfully followed Hanne-Maria’s notes; the highlight was a couple of book stores. One has to recall that in those pre-internet, pre-Amazon days the selection of books was much more limited in Canada and New York had books I would never have found in Toronto. I looked forward to giving her a full report on my adventures.

December 21st was a Wednesday; the next day, at the office (in those days our office was on Bloor Street West) one of the partners let us know that the previous day, December 21st, Hanne-Maria was killed along with the entire crew and passengers of Pan Am Flight 103 — 259 people in total, plus 11 on the ground in the town of Lockerbie Scotland. The aircraft exploded 38 minutes after take off from London en route to New York City.

Hanne-Maria was 26 years old; her birthday was six days earlier, December 15th.

I still have those hand-written notes and on the occasion of the winter solstice, read through them. I remember that December as though it happened yesterday. It is a reminder of how we cannot know how little time we might have to do the things we often push-off for “someday.”