Sidrah Mubashir is stunned after the loss of her husband, who drowned in a lake last week while rescuing their nine-year-old son.
Mubashir, her husband Mubashir Ali, and their three children visited Wizard Lake near Leduc, Alta., on July 14.
The family had picked a spot away from the beach area. Mubashir was waiting for Ali and the kids to return from playing so they could eat, when her kids came running to her and shared the terrible news.
"All I saw was my kids running toward me, crying. There was a lady — she came with my kids — and she says, 'Your husband drowned. We're trying to save him,'" said Mubashir, who ran to the scene immediately.
"I was scared, honestly. At the time, I was in shock. I did not know what was going to happen."
Mubashir has a three-year-old daughter and two sons aged nine and seven years old.
At the beach, one of the boys saw that the other was struggling in the water and went to help him. But suddenly it felt like something was pulling him down and they both started drowning, Mubashir recalls them saying.
Ali, 49, saw them and jumped in to save them. Another woman rushed in to help the kids too, she was told.
Witnesses told CBC News that they heard children's screams coming from the water, then saw Ali struggling to stay above the surface. Beachgoers tried to intervene, but within seconds he fell below the water and did not resurface, they said.
Leduc RCMP were called to Wizard Lake — located nearly 70 kilometres south of Edmonton — shortly before 7:30 p.m. on July 14. Beachgoers helped with the search until they were called out of the water at 9:30 p.m.
Ali's body was recovered by RCMP divers the next day.
"He was a brave person," said Mubashir.
While speaking with CBC News, Mubashir had trouble describing exactly how she's feeling right now. But she believes everything happens for a reason.
Meanwhile, her children are doing OK, but they realize their father isn't coming back, she said.
Ali remembered as kind man, loving father
Mubashir and her husband were originally connected through their arranged marriage. They were engaged and spoke with each other for two years before Ali sponsored Mubashir to immigrate to Canada in 2005 so they could be wed.
Whey they first met, Mubashir was impressed.
"He was very gentle and nice, loving, knowledgeable," she said. "I was always impressed with his knowledge and I always liked to ask [him] things. We got along really well."
They each shared a joy for reading. Ali was voracious, often buying books online, she said.
He cared for his friends and neighbours, but his family always came first, she said.
"He was madly in love with his kids," she said. "He would do anything for them."
Mubashir has many fond memories from 16 years of marriage, but she remembers a day recently where the couple finally got to spend an evening alone.
After months of remote learning and being stuck at home, COVID-19 restrictions loosened enough for the kids to sleep over at someone's house. So the couple went outside and took an hours-long drive, and just talked.
"It was a great day for both us," she said.
"We were happy."
Mubashir is incredibly thankful for those who tried to rescue her husband and for the overwhelming support she and the family has received since he died.
A GoFundMe campaign was set up for the family as well and has so far raised over $42,000 from hundreds of donors.