Edmonton woman who lost husband in plane crash writes book about love, loss

Nine years after her husband died in a plane crash while fighting a forest fire in B.C., an Edmonton woman has published a book reflecting on the loss.

Annette Tidball first heard the news of her beloved partner's death from one of her daughters, then 15.

"[She'd] just heard on the radio that Daddy had died, that his plane had crashed," Tidball told CBC News in a recent interview. "She came in and woke me with the news. 'There's been an accident. Dad's dead.'"

Her 36-year-old husband, Brian Tilley, and the plane's pilot, 58-year-old Tim Whiting, were killed when their Convair 580 went down about 250 kilometres northeast of Vancouver on July 31, 2010.

"It was so traumatic," Tidball said, recalling the crash, which happened just a few months after Tilley got the job fighting wildfires.

Natalie Saint-Cyr/CBC

She vividly remembers the last time she saw him before he died.

Tilley packed his bags for work, gave Tidball and their four daughters a kiss, then drove off, waving goodbye with the sign language symbol for "I love you." After 10 years of marriage, Tidball said her hands still tingled when they touched.

She was sent into a deep depression when her husband died.

"You're walking blindly. Your foundation has crumbled. You don't know where to go," she said.

Her new book, Fly Again: I Want You to Live, dives deep into that grief and the love story that came before it.

Submitted by Annette Tidball

"I just felt very inspired to write this book," she said. "Writing it was the easier part, and it felt like a conversation with a best friend. Having it out there for the world to read and being so vulnerable, it's scary."

Tidball said she wrote about her experience to help other people move through grief, though it was also personally therapeutic and gave her a sense of purpose. In addition to telling her story, the book includes questions for self analysis and advice for moving forward in the face of loss.

"You don't have to go through the same thing that I've gone through to have the same emotions. I think that we can connect that way," she said.

Submitted by Annette Tidball

Tidball, now remarried, wants to keep Tilley's memory alive, especially for their daughters. She remembers him as a humble, generous and intelligent man who loved being in nature.

"Crying and talking is key to getting through grief. A lot of times, you want to suppress it because it makes the other person uncomfortable, and I say no, forget that," she said.

"We talk about him all the time."