Family, friends host night of music to honor murder victim

  • Jacob Gines (left), 22, of Concord shows Mark Galusha one of the guitar picks made in the memory of his daughter, Sabrina Galusha, during a concert celebrating her life at Eagle Square in downtown Concord on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • A small crowd gathers for a concert celebrating the life of Sabrina Galusha at Eagle Square in downtown Concord on Saturday. Galusha, 23, was killed in May after suffering multiple stab wounds. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • Guitar picks with the phrase “Sabrina we will always love you” lie on a table with a candle during a concert celebrating the life of Sabrina Galusha at Eagle Square in downtown Concord on Saturday. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • A small crowd gathered for a concert celebrating the life of Sabrina Galusha at Eagle Square in downtown Concord on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

Monitor columnist
Monday, September 18, 2017

Jacob Gines needed his friend badly Saturday night at Eagle Square.

It only stands to reason that Sabrina Marie Galusha   would have talked Gines off the ledge. She was the friend who viewed things through a positive prism more than anyone else, the person who always shed light on the dark, scared feelings others had.

This time, in this place, Gines was stressed over the locked power box he and other musicians needed to plug in and play. The Concord Park and Recreation Department apparently had forgotten about its agreement with Gines, and the tribute to Galusha, stabbed to death in May during a $90 pot transaction, was already 25 minutes late.

“Can we talk later?” Gines asked me when I sought a quote for my column. “I’m kind of busy right now.”

Soon, Gines puffed on a Marlboro before an alternate outlet was located up Eagle Square’s cement steps, and the show got going about 45 minutes late.

“If anyone was having a bad day, she could turn it around,” local musician Chris Roberge of Deerfield noted, while about 35 people waited on a steamy night for the show to start. “The world is a lesser place without her.”

It’s been nearly four months since Galusha was stabbed to death at the age of 23. She and three friends – Sam Chase, Madison Campbell and Anika Tidd – drove to the Penacook Place apartments to sell a half-ounce of pot when things spiraled terribly out of control.

Police say a 20-year-old man named Daswan Jette swiped the baggie without paying, and when three of the friends tried to get it back, Galusha was stabbed three times, including once in the heart.

Tidd called 911, but help arrived on North State Street too late.

So now, Jette is facing a murder charge, and Galusha’s family and friends are facing life without a stream of light that was never short on power.

Nice things are often said about people who die, but after covering a vigil in June and Saturday night’s music festival, Galusha’s glass-is-half-full disposition came through in a genuine manner.

With that in mind, and with the initial shock and sadness past, those in attendance checked their insides and sought to show me happy faces during what was billed as a happy event.

“I think she would want most people to move forward with their lives,” said Hannah Treadwell of Concord, who first met Galusha in grade school. “This is clearly a big event. It’s a great event.”

“She rubbed off on me,” said T.J. Davis of Canterbury. “She taught me to take your lessons and learn from them. Don’t live through them again. Don’t take it as an epiphany of your downfall. Just take it as a lesson.”

And, it turns out, people within the Galusha circle did, in fact, learn from her. They looked in the mirror, looked to tap into their potential.

That’s what I heard from John Kangas, whose son, Mike, lives in Florida and dated Galusha for four years. The two remained close after their break-up.

“She had a lasting effect on all of us,” Kangas said. “Mike is still impacted in a positive way. He’s tried to better himself since this happened, and our daughter Miranda has been inspired to do charitable work.”

Kangas’s wife, Melanie, confirmed that this lasting, residual spell of selflessness that Galusha seemed to cast on others did, in fact, exist. She told me Miranda’s project, top secret right now, will be unveiled soon. She said logistics just need to be ironed out.

“It’s very in the spirit of Sabrina,” Melanie Kangas said. “She literally gave it wings. It will benefit the community.”

Then she added, “Some people, without effort, make you realize that you want to do better.”

And this nugget came from Galusha’s brother, Sean Galusha, a junior at Boston University: “She helped people push themselves to do things for other people. This event makes perfect sense, the way the whole thing is inspiring.”

But all the good memories and lessons learned, taken from Galusha’s life, could only carry you so far.

Here, in this scenario, sadness was never very far away, as Melanie showed when she told me that her family has adopted Galusha’s cat, Achilles, and, just a couple of days before she was killed, the two had celebrated their coinciding degrees earned in the nursing field.

So it wasn’t surprising when a tear dropped down Melanie’s cheek and she said, “I just miss her. No matter what you said, she’d tell you, ‘I love that,’ or, ‘that’s a great idea.’ ”

Kaitlin MacGown, a high school friend, echoed the awful truth, telling me, “It’s really hard to accept that she’s not with us.”

Sean Galusha said his family is sorting through his sister’s bedroom, choosing what to keep and what to give to those who loved her.

Photos of Sabrina and others have been given to the friends in the picture. Blown glass pendants were returned to the friend who made them, and a poster of Pink Floyd was also given away.

Her stuffed animals, though, the ones that brought her comfort, remain on her bed. Some are in her closet. Her jewelry isn’t going anywhere, either.

In the end, with the music flowing from electric and acoustic guitars, and friends and strangers sitting on the steps on a warm night, and the crowd at a nearby bar also sitting outside, Eagle Square was alive, a positive buzz in the air.

That’s what the event was for, and, everyone agreed, that’s what Galusha would have wanted.

Gines felt it, finally, at 5:46 p.m., when that other electrical outlet was finally found for the 5 p.m. show. He raised his hands in the air, relieved that things had worked out, something the friend he was honoring could have told him had she been there.

“Woo-hoo,” Gines shouted. “Tonight isn’t about sadness. Let’s dance the pain away.”