When former Glue Magazine associate editor Beverley Ann D’Cruz first landed at Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport in 2003 she immediately regretted her decision to move from Mumbai, the most populous city in India, to Canada’s capital.
The place was empty. There was no crowd to contend with as she and her boyfriend Sean D’Souza waited for their bags to reach them along the gate’s luggage belt. No throngs of passengers. Not even security personnel. This was the couple’s first experience with Ottawa.
“I remember we were looking at each other and we were like ‘What have we done? Where are all the people?'” D’Cruz says.
It wasn’t Canada itself the couple was worried about. They had stayed in Vancouver before the last leg of their flight and felt more at home there. But they had come to Ottawa on student visas to study journalism together at Algonquin College and were determined to see it through. They had no idea where these first steps would take them over the next decade.
In the 10 years between those first panicked moments and now, D’Cruz has played the parts of a journalism student, a wife, a reporter, an editor and a widow. Where does that leave her now? To understand who Beverley Ann D’Cruz is today, one should probably know more about where she has come from, literally and figuratively.
D’Cruz and D’Souza heard about the Algonquin College journalism program while still in India from a man who had studied business at the college.
While it wasn’t the only Canadian school they applied to, they were both accepted into the two-year program and sticking together was a priority. While in school D’Cruz and D’Souza wrote a feature story for the Winter 2005 print edition of Glue Magazine. Their story Foreign currency detailed the arduous obstacle course foreign students like them have to navigate to study in Canada.
“What really shocked Sean and me and really inspired us for the piece was, a lot of people in Canada actually didn’t understand how difficult it was for students to come from other countries,” said D’Cruz.
“It was a lot of money, it was a lot of stress and we worked hard to get in.”
With plans to return to Canada permanently, the couple relocated to Dubai following their graduation from Algonquin in 2005. Within a few months they had both landed reporting jobs. They were still living and working in Dubai in March 2007 when Sean was diagnosed with brain cancer. That month, he returned to his native Mumbai for treatment.
D’Cruz followed but needed to return to Dubai at the end of March to begin a new job in April. One of them needed to continue working to pay their bills while Sean was away receiving treatment from April to October of that year. Alone and working full-time in Dubai, she adopted a pragmatic view of the couple’s situation.
“The only comfort for me was that he was back home with his parents. So he wasn’t alone,” she said.
D’Souza’s treatment was successful and for the next several years he was well again. In Dubai the couple were able to advance in their shared field. D’Souza became an on-air reporter and by the time the immigration applications they they had submitted in Canada in 2005 were approved D’Cruz had served as the deputy editor of two publications.
In 2010, D’Cruz and D’Souza, returned to Canada to live as a newly married couple in Toronto. Once again D’Cruz quickly found work, this time as a news writer for the Weather Network. Sean’s condition had left him prone to seizures so he was not permitted to drive. Since a driver’s license is an invaluable asset for a reporter, Sean’s temporary hiatus from journalism became permanent. Nevertheless, D’Cruz and D’Souza were allowed one more year of relative good health and peace.
In July 2011 the symptoms of Sean’s brain tumor returned and the couple’s fears were confirmed: Sean was sick and his health was deteriorating rapidly.
“It’s very difficult to see this big 5’11” guy who can carry you and throw you around completely be reduced to someone who can’t do anything for himself,” said D’Cruz. “I think that was the hardest part.”
An accomplished writer and athlete, everything that could be taken from Sean by his illness was.
“He would forget words, he would forget what he was saying sometimes,” said D’Cruz. “His mind and his body, the two things that actually define this guy, were just taken away from him.”
Sean died in January 2012.
Beverley Ann took six weeks off of work to grieve. Joined by Sean’s mother, who had stayed with them in Canada for several months, she flew with her husband’s body back to India.
For D’Cruz, who had been so pragmatic throughout her husband’s illness, there was no question of how to proceed: the way Sean would have.
“I took the cue from him with regards to how to deal with it,” said D’Cruz.
After a sabbatical, she returned to work.
“It was ver, very hard. And it still is. I still have good days and bad days, but I always try to ask myself ‘What would Sean have done?'” said D’Cruz. “He would not be sitting down and crying in a corner.”
So D’Cruz ploughed forward, taking each day in turn and continuing to pour energy into her work. In 2011 she had begun to work for Sympatico.ca, which became The Loop, an online magazine, in December 2012. She currently works for The Loop as editor of the site’s living section.
As editor, D’Cruz channels her creative energy toward content generation. She brainstorms with section writers and freelancers for themes and story ideas, and sometimes works with the advertising department to help market the site.
Because her job at The Loop doesn’t involve writing, D’Cruz launched a food blog called Table for One in August 2012. D’Cruz grew up with a passion for cooking. Her late husband’s passion for eating made them especially compatible. Because food was always an important aspect of their relationship, Table for One chronicles her life as a widowed foodie.
Despite bumpy travelling, D’Cruz is thankful to have arrived where she is, both literally and figuratively.
“I’ve had this fantastic job, I’ve met fantastic people,” she said. “I’ve gone on some amazing trips thanks to my work. Everybody dreams about doing a job where they get to travel, where they get to meet new people and basically do something that they love. And aside from the fact that unfortunately I was widowed at a very young age, I really have nothing to complain about.”
Her strategy for overcoming life’s inevitable, but not necessarily defeating, hurdles is something anyone can practice.
“I’ve learned not to plan too much. I mean just go with the flow, and just be happy with every day and just accept every day as it is.”