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Crystal Joy Fyfe

May 6, 1975 - April 24, 2024

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Crystal was born in Duncan, BC and grew up and began her career in Victoria BC.  She was loved and cherished by all who knew her. Although shy and introverted as a little girl, she was well above average intelligence (she read a lot, including the daily newspaper, from a very young age) and early on she developed a sharp, quick wit. She was also counterbalanced by her feisty, extroverted sister/bff, Leona who was just a year older and took Crystal under her wing and protected her – the two were bonded from the start, no matter what, they had each other.

Crystal loved to laugh and one of her favourite mantras was “just be kind”. Over time, these attributes superseded her shyness, enabling her to love and be loved by the friends she chose to have in her life. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child (or perhaps to nurture a human) and these friends were vital to Crystals village. Her Mom, Sarah loved her babies fiercely but she often struggled as a single Mom so as a child Crystal’s village included her extended family, especially her Grandma and Grandpa. Crystal’s favourite memories included the many times she was feeling shy and alone on the school grounds and her Grandpa would just show up in his car. She would accompany him on errands to the grocery store or the garden centre or whatever his destination was, it didn’t matter to her. They didn’t talk very much, they just hung out together and she was content and always felt secure and safe with him.

Outside of school Crystal attended Sea Cadets, made the rank of ‘Chief Petty Officer’ and played the flute in the Sea Cadet band. She also achieved lifeguard status in her Red Cross swimming lessons and became a very good swimmer.

In time she also became a great bicyclist but when she was about 12, she took a bad fall off a bike and sustained a concussion and an injured shoulder that continued to plague her throughout what became her very athletic life. This passion began in earnest about 30 years ago when her ‘Auntie’, Susan shared her own recipe for healing and health – just RUN! Crystal took it to a whole new level though, incorporating her love of swimming and biking and joining a triathlon team in Victoria that turned into a lifelong passion, friendship group and support system. She was very humble about her accomplishments but her friend Paul tells us that,” Crystal helped run a private triathlon and cycling focused gym in Redmond for a few years. She led power-based workout sessions and always led from the front – of the many, many members that walked through our doors over the years, she was not only top two in terms of pure power on the bike, but she was loved and admired even more for her commitment and dedication to our community, her kindness and patience to anyone who walked in the doors and her complete lack of ego around her amazing capability on the bike.” Even though Paul and others told her these things you would never hear it from her lips. The stories are the same from everybody who knew her, including her work colleagues – her abilities are applauded but above all is the common sentiment as also expressed by Paul that: “those of you who knew her will remember the most kind-hearted, empathetic, considerate human who lit up a room with her positivity and generosity.”

However, in spite of all her apparent strength and resilience, the children’s fable ‘Humpty Dumpty’ sometimes comes to mind when close family members think of Crystal’s life, not just physically (her fall off her bike/wall) but emotionally as well. (Her vulnerabilities were exacerbated by her experiences in the modelling industry as a teenager.  She battled the residual scars and the feeling of ‘not being good enough’ her whole life). She usually appeared to put herself back together again and she carried on valiantly but there were invisible cracks/vulnerabilities that remained.

It is true that “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen

“Don’t walk through the world looking for evidence that you’re not enough, because you will always find it. Our worth and our belonging are not negotiated with other people. We carry those inside of our hearts.” — Brené Brown

When Crystal was 13, she wrote a funny, facetious ‘Letter to Santa’ as a school project. She dreamed big in that letter and opened with, “I would like, most of all, a red Porsche. I don’t want to seem like I’m asking for too much, so if you have a black one that’s okay too. Next, I would like a diamond, it has to be big or forget it. A fur would be nice (preferably white) ….I just really want a pair of those suede boots. They are really long and go up past your knees. They are only about $200 so I figure you can handle that. Right?…”  She didn’t stop there, she included a bicycle, phone, stereo system and a house decorated to her standards. The irony was obvious as finances were always tight so yes, she was joking and no, Santa didn’t ever bring her any of those things.

Crystal did it herself through perseverance, determination, hard work, continuous learning and her special combination of humility and empathy when working with people. Over the years in both Victoria and Seattle she worked her way up the ladder to the position of Corporate Insurance Account Executive at AHT Insurance. So, when she attended a family gathering in British Columbia a few weeks ago she was driving a pretty nice Audi (black not red), sporting a diamond ring (hoping this was finally ‘the one’) and wearing those suede boots that came up over her knees!

However, the part of the fairy tale that was always elusive was ‘prince charming’. Of course, he would have to be like her Grandpa and provide unconditional love and kindness.

Finally, in 2010 she thought she had found him…Gary ‘looked like Grandpa’ and worked at Microsoft in Seattle. In January, 2011 they were married in a beautiful wedding on the beach in Maui and Crystal moved to Seattle (she transferred from AON in Canada to the US branch). It all seemed perfect until it became apparent that Gary was also a ‘Humpty Dumpty’ and although Crystal had put herself back together, she couldn’t do the same for him.

Soon after amicably separating from Gary, she discovered Ruaraidh…a Scotsman with a sexy brogue and a similar passion for an active outdoors lifestyle. A very special bonus factor were his two young boys, Fionn and Lewis who Crystal also fell in love with. She had always wanted children but was unable to conceive following a very sad, second ectopic pregnancy so she threw herself into being the best stepmom she could be. She and Ruaraidh were married in 2016 and as an American citizen he was able to sponsor her to become a permanent US resident. This ‘Prince Charming’ was a great match in many ways but after they were together for 10 years it became apparent that the complexity of our ‘Humpty Dumpty’ (an ‘ACE’ score of 10/10) was more than a regular guy could deal with. What they shared was a mutual love of sports and those beautiful boys but sadly, it wasn’t enough and Crystal moved out on her own again at the end of April, 2022.

Second to her people and maybe even more important in some ways, were Crystal’s dogs. She grew up knowing Grandpa’s Tobey and then had her own Tobey the 2nd when she still lived at home.  She got Desmo when she was working at McTavish Insurance in Victoria and he was the buddy that saw her through some lonely and some good years. Then there was Trixie who only Crystal could understand and finally, the lovely Tokul who came to live with her after she and Ruaraidh separated. Dogs were as intrinsic and important to her well-being on this planet as exercise was and she loved them perfectly and unconditionally.

After she left she missed her boys terribly but she still had her extended family who loved her immensely and she decided she would do everything she could to become the best ‘Auntie’ she could be. She had always come to Canada for every birth, birthday or other occasion and she came bearing gifts for the kids. It started when Marika was born 13 years ago and Crystal was in the waiting room at the hospital with the family. She brought a baby gift named ’Sheepie’ that became a symbol for Marika of her special bond with Crystal.

We will always be grateful that we were able to spend one last Canadian Thanksgiving together in 2023 and we are very thankful for the beautiful memories she left us with…

However, we are extremely devastated that this sweet, kind, beautiful soul is no longer with us. On April 24th (her Aunt Kathy’s birthday) she left us to join her beloved sister, Leona whose death by suicide 5 years ago on May 31st (her Aunt Marilyn’s birthday) seemed to give credence to the option of leaving this world whenever life becomes unbearable.  It had become evident that even though she presented her perfect, loving ‘chameleon self’ to the outside world, her longing for the unconditional love of her whole self by a man/Prince Charming seemed next to impossible to attain. What Crystal didn’t seem to know was that both sides of her dual nature were intrinsic to her wholeness – the self that appeared ‘civilized’ and the self that was wilder. It is hard enough for most of us to reconcile all of our parts but it is very important for a partner, who is truly dedicated to the union, to work at knowing the other and understanding and loving them in all their complexity. This can take a lifetime. Sadly, when it became apparent that the diamond, the house and the ‘happily ever after’ were all just part of a cruel fallacy, Crystal made one final cry for help. Those of us who knew and loved her deeply (more so than she could ever have imagined) are left to grieve and to wish that we could have been there for her in that final culminating moment of great anguish.

“To be ourselves causes us to be exiled by many others and yet to comply with what others want causes us to be exiled from ourselves.” Clarissa Pinkola Estés

“Loneliness is most painful not when we are alone but when we are misunderstood, rejected, ostracized or ignored by the people around us.” Esther Perel

Meanwhile, left to mourn her passing are her Mom, Sarah Ross, her Aunt, Kathryn Fuller, Aunt, Susan Lees, Uncle, Shaun Lees, cousins, Aaron and Kalen Lees, their wives, Yumi and Stela, second cousins, Marika, Hugo, Kai, Akira, Koen and Ryden, and many other family members including Fionn and Lewis Stenson. Equally saddened by her loss are her many friends including Julie Heidt, David Schmid, Crystal and Dominic Bergeron, Paul Raknes, Rocky Ursino (coach), Kate Liams, Helen Bell, Maureen Colgan, Olive Russell, Katie Henry, Finn Cadadensis, Ray and Eileen Kehl, Val Hemminger, Yasmine Grant, and many others from her Victoria triathlon team, her Seattle Ironman team, her biking community and her work colleagues….

Crystal was predeceased by her grandparents, Ken and Alice Monkhouse, her baby sister Rebecca (crib death), her sister Leona and her dog Desmo. Intentionally missing from this list are her father and her step-father as they were primarily responsible for her Complex PTSD.

Crystal’s biking community in Seattle are planning a ride and a beer together on Canada Day, July 1st, 2024.

As her friends and family live in many places (Germany, Quebec, Alberta, BC and Seattle) we are planning a small semi-virtual memorial gathering on a date yet to be determined – please email contact details to [email protected] if you would like to be notified.

Crystal was very proud of one of her biggest insurance clients, DESC and the work they do in Seattle. Donations in her memory would be gratefully accepted: https://www.desc.org/

In Victoria Crystal often supported the VSAC/Victoria Sexual Assault Centre. She raised funds through organized runs and was open about her personal reasons for doing so. They would also be grateful for donations in Crystal’s memory: https://www.vsac.ca/impact/

Of course, any charity involving dogs would likely have been endorsed by Crystal.

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

-John Donohue

‘When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. ~Kahlil Gibran