It’s OK to grieve at your own speed.
George Wolf wants to get that message out in a new song after losing his 21-year-old daughter to a fentanyl overdose in November.
“The funny thing is I wrote the song a couple of months before she passed away,” said the country music artist, who lives in North Delta.
He had a friend whose brother passed at a young age, and he wrote the lyrics to express what she was feeling.
“People were constantly telling her to just get over it. You know, everything will get better, and she just wasn’t feeling that way. And I kind of wrote the song and expressed that grief is different than any other kind of pain,” he said.
When Wolf’s daughter died, the song took on new meaning.
Charly Ann Torikka was born Sept. 26, 1995, in Chilliwack.
Torikka’s mother was involved in drugs and prostitution and Wolf took full custody of her when she was four years old.
In her teens, Torikka loved music and horses, but she struggled with self-esteem.
Wolf was living in Abbotsford and Torikka became involved in the gang lifestyle.
She became pregnant at 16 and gave birth to a healthy girl.
Torikka still graduated from W.J. Mouat secondary, but found the responsibilities of motherhood too much for her and gave her daughter up for adoption.
She struggled to rebuild her life, but couldn’t turn her back on the nightclub scene.
She used drugs recreationally and at one point spent time in the hospital due to seizures.
“She really only did it when she was partying and stuff like that with other people,” Wolf said.
Close to the time of her death, she had enrolled in a real estate course.
But on the morning of Nov. 6, 2016, her boyfriend found her unresponsive in her Maple Ridge apartment. The coroner’s report showed that she had cocaine and a lethal dose of fentanyl in her bloodstream.
Her death was deemed an accidental overdose.
Wolf’s four other children, who range in age from 17 to 20, were devastated.
Missing You was recorded a couple of months ago.
“I think we started on it in about April and it took to maybe the end of May, beginning of June to get it all finished,” Wolf said.
“The recording was really a labour of love. Everybody (who) was involved in it put a lot of feeling into it,” he continued, adding that some artists even refused to be paid for their work.
At first, Wolf just wanted to record a song as a tribute to his daughter’s life.
But as they worked on the song, they thought maybe there should be a video. Then Wolf decided to create a website (remembercharly.com) to try and help other people with Torikka’s story.
“She had her whole life ahead of her and then it was gone,” Wolf said.
“I feel like that the song will help people and will honour her memory. I feel like it is making her life mean something,” he explained.
“It was very very difficult to record, and to actually sing the lyrics was pretty tough to do,” Wolf added.
The last time Wolf saw his daughter, they met up at Roosters Country Cabaret in Pitt Meadows.
They made plans to get together for her birthday in September, but those plans fell through, as so often happens.
“You know how it is, you say, ‘Oh well, you’ve got all the time in the world, I’ll see her at Christmas or whenever,’” said Wolf.
Now he can’t spend more than 20 minutes in the country bar.
“It’s tough because you see all these other girls running around and just knowing that if I could do something to stop one of them from doing the same thing, that’s kind of what I’m hoping,” Wolf, a bass player, said about sharing Charly’s story and his song.
Locally, Wolf performs music at venues such as White Rock Legion (at a Sunday-afternoon jam, 2290 152nd St.) and Donegal’s Irish House (a new Tuesday-night country jam, 12054 96th Ave., Surrey). Look for gig updates at facebook.com/georgewolfakaLonewolf.
The chorus of Missing You goes: “You can heal a heart that’s broken because the parts are all still there. But when a giant piece is missing, there is nothing left to repair.”
Wolf is hoping to help other girls who might find themselves in Torikka’s situation.
He is putting together a bursary for the New Beginnings program in Abbotsford that he credits for helping his daughter finish high school.
“If there is another girl in the same position, struggling and looking to get ahead, then I would be able to give somebody some money to cover the cost of paying for text books or tuition for something they normally would not have the money for,” he said.
He also wants to use the funds to start the Remember Charly Foundation, to work with youth drug awareness programs and contribute to grief counselling programs for loved one left behind.
“Maybe somebody will hear that song and know the story. Maybe it’s going to save a life somewhere down the road.”