Some people walk through this world with hearts and spirits too big even for this world.
That’s why God calls some of them home earlier than any of us wish.
That’s what I have tried to tell myself over the past few days as our community deals with the passing of one of the brightest lights ever to shine in these parts.
Natalie Dal lived her life with unapologetic joy and passion and, in doing so, made the lives of all of us who knew her better.
If my fading memory is still any good, I believe I first met Natalie and her husband, Chris Wall, at some event I can’t even recall specifically that I was covering for the Times several years ago.
While my recollections of the details are grainy, what isn’t hard to remember is the kindness that emanated from both of them as they consented to me taking their picture to publish with the story I was doing.
I got to know Natalie much better in the following years as a member of the Fort Frances Her-icanes of the Rainy River District Women’s Fastball League.
Her greatest ability as a player wasn’t her hitting, although she will always hold a special place in ‘Canes history.
It wasn’t her line drive bullet that brought in the tying and go-ahead runs in the championship-clinching Game 2 of the 2016 RRDWFL final against the Redgut Babes.
It wasn’t her fielding or even her speed, which she had plenty to spare.
What stood out about Natalie was her gift for lightening the mood even in the most tensely competitive moments.
Whenever things started to get heated between the ‘Canes and their opponents, it was the girl with the unforgettable white socks with red stripes and the hair to match who would change the whole atmosphere.
Natalie would deliver a one-liner punctuated by her trademark snort laugh that would get her teammates and even the opposition breaking out in instant smiles and laughter and straighten out everyone’s perspective to remember it was, indeed, just a game.
But Natalie was far more than a ballplayer.
She was a devoted wife and mother who was an undeniably positive force in her children’s lives, supporting them at every turn and in every endeavour.
She was also a truly sincere friend who told you like it is and who you could count on for encouragement in difficult times.
There’s not many people in this world you can say you have never heard a single bad word about. Lord knows I’m not one of them.
But I can’t ever think of a time when Natalie’s name entered a conversation that she wasn’t referred to adoringly and gratefully for all the good that she shared with those around her.
Last Thursday night, at just 32 years old, Natalie’s time in this world ended.
What has happened in the following days speaks volumes to how much she was loved and admired.
A GoFundMe account was set up on Friday to help Chris and their children, including foster children which Natalie was so happy to add to her household
It started with a goal of $5,000.
As I write this, the amount donated stands at $40,195. That’s in less than a week.
I’d say that’s a pretty emphatic statement about what Natalie meant to the people who knew her.
She will be incredibly missed. May her spirit of caring for others live on in all of us always.
Steps taken this week: 119,086
Steps taken overall: 1,275,293
Money raised this week: $250
Money raised for Riverside Foundation for Health Care – Chemotherapy Unit: $470
Money raised for Rainy River Victim District Services: $700
Money raised for the UNFC Food Bank: $1,500
Money raised overall: $2,670
Please go to my Facebook page entitled “Joey Payeur” and look for the Step Forward fundraiser post to donate. Thanks for all your support.