Monday morning, after a week of constantly being surrounded by friends and family offering their love and support, Trish Smith and her children said goodbye to husband and father Lukas at an outdoor service at Cornerstone Community Church.
The outpouring of love “has been unbelievable,” says Trish.
“All that love he gave to others, we’re feeling it given back to us. It’s been amazing. We’ve had friends here around the clock. They loved him too, and they’re struggling the same as I am.”
Trish had difficulty putting the enormity of her gratitude into words, knowing she couldn’t have got through the past days without all the people who have supported her, especially with three children who are struggling with their own grief. Lukas’s friends, she says, “are wrapping their arms around my kids. They’re telling stories about him, they’re making her kids laugh, and distracting them somewhat from all that’s going on around them.”
Trish describes the funeral, with a simple pine casket designed and hand-made with love by his friends.
Lukas and his two friends (Wes Wiens and Doug Hiebert) had promised each other in the past years that when the time came they would build a rough pine coffin for each other, and they had carried out his wishes.
“But they never thought they’d be doing it now. They thought they’d all be in their 70s and 80s, at least.”
They also had jerseys made for the funeral, so each of his friends had the name of Lukas’s construction company on one side, the real estate company he had just started working for on the other, and his friends’ names, along with the words, “Love people, live life,” says Trish. “That’s what he did.”
His two sons Bryden and Riley, his sister and best friend Wes led the processional on dirt bikes, wearing the jerseys, followed by Lukas’ truck carrying the coffin, followed by another group of close friends on dirt bikes.
The service itself was outside, under a tent, chosen so they could safely accommodate more people. “It was beautiful, and great for my kids to hear what was said,” says Trish.
They heard their dad described as “adventurous, relational, fun-loving and a passionate man of faith.”
These were just a few of the words that described Lukas, shared Monday by friend Wes Wiens, at the service for the 41-year-old much-loved father, son, and friend, taken tragically when hit by a car while riding his bicycle along Irvine Road with his son last Sunday evening.
His life story, as presented at the Cornerstone Church funeral, was written in collaboration with his wife Trish, and his closest friends.
That Lukas was free-spirited and adventurous was evident early in his life — he began dirt biking at the age of 10 and never looked back, says Wiens, saving to buy his own dirt bike by the time he was 14.
His love for spending time on the water began with his family during summers on Manitoulin Island, where good friends were made. His love for the water developed into whitewater kayaking, windsurfing, motor-boating and more recently, having fun with Wes on a Hobie Cat catamaran. Together they dreamed of sailing the Hobie across Lake Ontario, and were just waiting for the right conditions. Another dream for Lukas was to participate in the Talisker whiskey challenge, “with partners in crime, Wes and Doug.” This race involves a glorified row boat being pushed across 3,000 miles of the Atlantic, from the Canary Islands to Antigua. Lukas had done all the research, watched all the videos. All he needed was time and training, but that was a dream unfulfilled.
Near the end of high school, a more challenging season in life, Lukas moved in with Doug, his friend Matt, and a bunch of guys from Cornerstone Church. This was the beginning of their deep relationship, but also the start of Lukas finding a surrogate family in Cornerstone, says Wiens. “He often talked about how thankful he was for the church family that brought him in, welcomed him, loved him, and gave him the opportunity to hone his bass-playing skills. Like everything else he did, he played bass with passion and gusto.”
It was at that time that Lukas met Trish Thiessen, the love of his life, at a retreat at Camp Crossroads. “Trish knew on their first date that he was the one — he had her at first sight,” says Wiens.
He always knew how to make Trish feel special, and constantly did things to remind her she was number one in his life. Lukas married Trish, his soulmate, on July 4, 2003.
The Thiessen family, who had lost their son Gerald, welcomed him and loved him like their own. Lukas adored Trish, says Wiens, loved creating a beautiful family, home and life together with her, and “brought so much joy, laughter and excitement into Trish’s life. He provided for her in every way, and sought to always meet her needs.”
Their children, Bryden, Riley and Miaya, were born in the next years and they captivated Lukas’ heart. “He loved them so much, always wanting to spend more time with them and have epic adventures with them.”
Lukas loved sharing his passion for dirt biking with Bryden, and said many times in the last months that Bryden was on the cusp of outpacing him when riding. They shared many conversations while working on projects, and Bryden was able to learn and soak up much from his dad about life, work ethic and how to be a person of integrity. “He was so proud of who Bryden was becoming, and the character he displayed through work and friendships.”
Lukas was proud of Riley’s heart for others, his strong sense of justice and how he worked so hard to overcome challenges. Riley was always up for an adventure and Lukas loved to encourage him to be creative, fun and lively. Riley and Lukas shared many traits in how they cared for others — Riley loves hard, just like his dad did, says Wiens.
Miaya was Lukas’ princess, and he was absolutely smitten, having a hard time saying no to her. They shared their love for water and spent hours together in the pool. “Miaya is exactly the curly-haired, bright-eyed and joy-filled daughter he had envisioned when he found out he was finally having a girl. He loved to hear her giggle, and to curl up and cuddle with her. He wanted her to know that she was always loved, and should never settle, that she deserved the best.”
His passion and zest for life came through in his work as well. He began his work life with Chuck Wiens, and then was introduced to framing through Mike Hahn and Wilf Wiens. These men not only taught him the trade, but set an example to be the mentor that he aspired to be with his own crew and family.
Framing houses was such a good fit for Lukas, says Wiens. He loved the challenge each project presented, and made it a goal to not only efficiently complete the task, but live up to his own high standards of excellence in doing so. His guys and anyone who worked for him would agree that he only knew one speed on the job site, and that was to go strong and hard.
It was a career that wasn’t always easy on Lukas. He broke multiple bones, but that never seemed to keep him\ away from the job site. He worked almost a whole year with pain in his forearm before getting X-rays and discovering his wrist was actually broken, recounts Wiens. On two occasions he even worked on a rooftop while connected to an IV bag.
When he broke his back jumping logs on his dirt bike, it was all he could do to not put the tool belt back on and get back to work before his designated rehabilitation time. In the midst of his injuries, and his drive to get jobs done, Lukas continued to prioritize mentoring and speaking into the lives of his workers and other contractors he rubbed shoulders with.
However, breaking his back was the impetus for a big change, says Wiens.
“All this hard work and all his injuries had been taking its toll. Lukas felt incessantly tired. Along with this, he longed for more time with his family, and to pursue the things he so passionately loved to do. All this led Lukas to pursue a career change in the next season of his life.”
In the midst of his full-time framing and constant weariness, says Wiens, Lukas began his real estate licensing process, accomplishing his goal of getting his accreditation just a few months ago.
“It seemed like such a God-send when, just days after getting his accreditation, a meeting with Ben Lockyer opened a door for Lukas to be part of Ben’s real estate team. This provided the mentoring Lukas desired in starting this new career. Lukas was excited. More than that, he was so looking forward to using his, perhaps, greatest gift — that of relationship — in this new venture.”
He wanted to help people sell, or purchase the home that they were searching for; but more than that, he saw a great opportunity to invest in and care for people, says Wiens.
“Lukas had this amazing passion and ability, to listen patiently, to not judge anyone, to accept everyone, and to truly and deeply care for people.”
He also “lived out Jesus to people around him. As a result, many people would confide in him, often even those he had just met, and in some cases even some he had never met other than online. Lukas longed for people to know Jesus and experience the same freedom and hope for this life, and for eternity that he is now enjoying with his Father in heaven.”
Faith was central to Lukas. “He longed to live a God-honouring life,” says Wiens, and accepted that it was going to be a “lifelong work in progress.” He made time to read the Bible, pray and surround himself with people who would sharpen his faith. “Lukas would be the first to admit that he was not perfect, but he treated his failures and struggles the same way he would any daunting hill climb on his dirt bike, full on, full out, and if he fell he would dust off, get back on and give it another go. He never stayed down and refused to give in or give up.”
Wiens describes a man who “longed to be used by God, to fulfill His purposes for his life.”
Trish agrees, faith “has also been huge” for her and Lukas.
“I truly believe he is in a better place,” she says. “I remind my kids of that. He’s home now. This isn’t our final home. And there will be a time when we’re all together. That’s definitely our belief, and what was instilled in our family. Faith, family and friends.That’s what Lukas believed in, and how he lived his life.”
And, she added, “it’s what we have right now to help us through this. That, and all the prayers around us, will get us through this. We’re so blessed to have this community, this circle of friends, who view life the same way.”
Trish says she knows they will continue to be there for her. “They won’t leave me alone, they won’t leave my kids. I know that if we needed anything at all, even during the night, they’d be here. And Lukas would have done the same for them. This is a really deep community of people we have to rely on.”
Lukas lived for community, and lived for relationships, considered friends to be family — and it’s the result of his love and caring for others that Trish and their children are experiencing today. She says she’s not the type of person to ask for help, but adds, “I have to. This is not something you can do on your own.”
Trish has also huge gratitude for the larger community — hockey coaches, her kids’ teachers, school staff and others who have reached out to her.
“They’re all reminding us we won’t be alone. And I need that. I know I can’t do it alone.”
She adds that they’ve even had visitors from out of town, “and they all say what an amazing community this is, how supportive it is. It’s a small town, and it’s pretty awesome.”
Late Monday evening, exhausted after a long day, her backyard was still filled with friends and family, sharing stories with her kids and making them giggle about their dad. “I can’t tell you how thankful I am for everyone. And I can’t imagine not having them around.”
As Wiens said earlier in the day, Lukas lived life to the full, “like he was invincible, never afraid to take risks in work, in play, and in his relationships. He had so many dreams that he still wanted to fulfill, but the God he trusted had other plans. Lukas will be so deeply missed; cherished husband, adored father, friend to so very many.”