Telephone to the hereafter is this Kamloops woman's gift to people mourning a loss

·2 min read

Kirsty Sykes lost her best friend to a fentanyl overdose five years ago and knows what it's like to bottle up grief about loved ones lost.

She believes other people share that feeling so the Kamloops, B.C., landscaper came up with a creative idea. Sykes turned an old, yellow phone she bought from a local thrift store into a conduit to the next world, tucked away in the trees in a local park.

"We are at the Telephone of Infinity," Sykes told CBC story producer Jenifer Norwell on a hiking trail in Peterson Creek Nature Park south of downtown in the southern Interior city.

"This phone is here to help express feelings and energy, and to remind you that although your loved one has passed, they are always here to listen," reads the phone's introductory note attached to a plywood board affixed to a tree.

"Dedicated to the memory of Tyler Robinson," the final line of the note says about Sykes's best friend and ex-boyfriend, who died in January 2016.

Sykes's creation was inspired by U.S. travel journalist Corey Dembeck, who installed his rotary Telephone of the Wind in November at Priest Point Park in Olympia, Wash., after his grandfather, parents and his friend's daughter died.

"I just started crying, like tears just came to my eyes right away," Sykes said.

"A lot of people, even if they know they can make connections with someone who has passed away, just might need a physical, real item that could be a gate towards doing that," she said.

Jenifer Norwell/CBC
Jenifer Norwell/CBC

Sykes lost her grandmother to cancer five years ago, and over the years many of her friends passed away due to opioid overdose.

Sykes hasn't used the Telephone of Infinity herself, but says speaking on the phone while imagining a loved one on the other side can be a miraculous, emotional experience.

"You could write [your feelings] in a journal, but I just think sitting and speaking out loud is important as well," she said. "It's a natural gift that we have to use communication that way."

Tap the link below to hear Kirsty Sykes's conversation with Jenifer Norwell on Daybreak Kamloops: