By Mariana Ionova
In a few short weeks, 19-year-old Tracy Scott would have been boarding a plane to finally see Europe.
Since last year, she had been eagerly counting the days until Sept. 18, when she would travel to Italy, Germany and Austria with about 30 other Ryerson geography students.
But Scott’s countdown — with each day neatly crossed off on a calendar hanging on her bright pink bedroom wall — ended abruptly on Aug. 20 when she died in her sleep.
That morning, Scott’s mother, Marilyn Scott, heard her daughter’s alarm clock blaring.
When she went to check on her daughter, she found her dead.
“Her lips were all blue and I knew something was wrong,” Marilyn said.
Scott died from adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a type of lung failure that can occur unexpectedly in otherwise healthy adults.
“The hardest part is knowing that she wanted to do so much and now she’ll never get to do any of it,” Marilyn said.
Scott’s unexpected death came as she was about to begin her third year in the geographic analysis, where friends say peers recognized her ever-smiling face and infectious laughter. She put her outgoing personality to use by joining the Student Association of Geographic Analysis (SAGA), where she helped organize social events and weekly pub nights.
“She loved Ryerson,” Marilyn said. “She was so glad to get to go there. She had so much fun and she was so proud to be a part of it.”
Scott was always getting involved, recalled her best friend Elizabeth “Lizz” Dokurno. The two met at the beginning of their first year at Ryerson and quickly became inseparable.
“We were always here, in the geography lounge, laughing,” said Dokurno. “And when Tracy laughed, she laughed so hard, she’d cry.” Marilyn said Scott’s laughter and positivity touched the lives of everybody around her.
And for the past four summers, she worked as a camp councillor for the Town of Ajax, where she organized activities for kids between the ages of three and 12.
At the viewing, the camp had to find replacements for all its councillors, who had taken the day off to attend. There, they were among 300 others who lined up to say goodbye to Scott.
“She had this pleasantry about her,” said Brian Ceh, a professor of geography who taught Tracy in her first year at Ryerson.
“When she walks in, she lights up the room.”
Scott’s life revolved around living in the moment and having fun, according to Dokurno. She loved music, themed parties and joking around.
Tracy’s motto was “Live, Love, Laugh,” which she tattooed on her right foot in swirling calligraphy last summer.
“Tracy definitely lived her motto,” said Marilyn. “I never saw Tracy sad,” Dokurno said. “She definitely lived, loved and laughed. Now I just want to carry on her legacy.”