A tear-stained thank-you letter written from the heart of an eight-year-old boy has touched RCMP officers across the country as they mourn the loss of one of their own.
Rylin Adams’s careful printing contains both empathy and gratitude. In reflecting on how much he loves his own mother, he was able to translate that into some comfort for those who lost loved ones in the mass shooting in Nova Scotia two weeks ago.
“My heart is broken because of what happened to your fellow RCMP members and all of the victims,” Rylin wrote. “It can be a scary world sometimes and I get scared and I bet you get scared, too, but you still help us even when you could be scared and that makes you brave.”
The letter started as a school assignment — he could write to anyone — but after the shooting, Rylin’s mother said he immediately wanted to send an open letter to police officers.
He and his three siblings live just outside Amherst, N.S., close enough to Wentworth that when Lindsay Adams learned of a gunman in that community on April 19 she called her kids inside.
When the gunman was spotted near Halifax, she sent them out again.
“But Rylin kind of stayed back and was just like, ‘What’s happening, Mom, what’s going on?’ He’s always been really aware of things in the world,” she said. “When something happens he wants to know, like, is everyone OK.”
They decided to write a draft letter together. The tiny dots on it are stains from Rylin’s tears as he thought about Const. Heidi Stevenson’s children, his mother said.
“People think the word sensitive is a bad quality,” Adams said. “But he’s very, very sensitive in a loving and [empathetic] way and he feels stuff really strongly.”
Listen to Rylin read his letter
His feelings have resonated with those who have seen his letter. When COVID-19 restrictions prevented him from delivering it to a detachment, his mother posted it on Facebook.
Soon, messages and videos for Rylin came pouring in from Mounties, police officers and first responders.
“You’re right! We do get scared sometimes,” a police officer named Kali Ann wrote to him. “But we try to be our bravest selves so we can do right by our communities and keep everyone safe … For the record, you have made the world a better place just by writing your letter.”
Rylin beams when his mom reads that to him.
“I’m glad because I made them happy,” he said. “They might have been sad.”
A local RCMP officer has since picked up the letter from Rylin himself and delivered it to his colleagues.
If you are seeking mental health support during this time, here are resources available to Nova Scotians.