Tristan's triumph: After years of heartache, a toddler brings back joy to his mom's world

Wherever he goes, two-year-old Tristan Lemieux is up for adventure.

“The world is this kid’s playground, and I love it,” said Tristan’s mom, Stephanie Pilon.

“My mom always called me her wild child. And I think Tristan is my wild child,” she said with a smile.

Stephanie credits her son with being the light in her life after a very dark decade.

“Tristan’s the one who saved me. I swear,” said Pilon, tears filling her eyes.

Tristan isn’t Stephanie’s first child. Thirteen years ago, she gave birth to another son, Anthony.

“First baby, first grandchild, first great grandchild. It was amazing.”

But joy would soon be shattered by tragedy, when Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) would rob Stephanie of her newborn son.

“He passed away six weeks after he was born,” she said, her voice breaking while recounting the memory.

Stephanie’s heart was broken for a decade, crushed by the weight of her grief. Today, she still visits Anthony’s grave, and has found meaning in his passing.

“His purpose on this earth was to remind me that tomorrow’s not always promised,” she said.

Stephanie thought she would never again have more children, until she met Dominic Lemieux. Now, the couple has two young sons—Tristan, and their youngest child, Cedric.

And in honour of her late son Anthony, Stephanie and her family strive to live for today; seeking adventures at every turn.

The family’s latest adventure begins with the Ottawa Fire Service’s long-running “Wake Up Ottawa” campaign.

“Making sure every resident has a working smoke alarm on every level of their home,” said Gwen Lewis, District Chief Fire Prevention of Ottawa Fire Services.

An OFS photo contest had people wearing Ottawa Redblacks apparel while creatively checking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. A snapshot of Tristan, checking the family’s smoke detector using a football, scored the family tickets to a Redblacks game and an exciting invitation.

“A VIP tour to my fire truck obsessed two-year-old,” laughed Tristan’s mom.

Tristan toured Station 53 in Orleans at Mach speed, running through the fire hall, pointing at fire trucks and waving at welcoming firefighters.

“It was like winning a lottery to know that he was going to see a fire truck, up close,” said Pilon.

Presenting jerseys to Tristan and his family was Ottawa Redblacks player and volunteer Ottawa Firefighter, Nigel Romick.

Romick, also a dad to a toddler, was impressed by Tristan’s enthusiasm.

“It was amazing. Seeing his face while running around, I loved it,” said Romick.

District Chief Lewis was impressed by Tristan’s energy, too. She even hinted he could one day be firefighter material.

“Those are the champions that may be hired by us, one day. Maybe future firefighters.”

Maybe.

But for now, Tristan, and an older brother he never knew, remind us that it’s today that counts.

And that lesson, just like Tristan, never gets tired.