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november oh-eight

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it’s november now and my brother’s birthday now behind me but i was going to write this then. it was the way i felt. i was falling down a rabbit hole, caught up in a vortex that completely eclipsed me. it was honest it was how i felt, but then i censored myself and began editing myself, paralyzing myself in the process. i do this a lot. so much so it’s become automatic but doing that feels inauthentic on the path i am trying to follow, so i’ll post it now even though i’ve had to blow the dust off of it. 

i started in a burst of emotion, with tears in my eyes and then i let it sit….this is my m.o. what spurred this frenzy of brief writing was a Mary J. Blige song i heard on Songza and I don’t know why but it reminded me of him. actually, i know why. it reminded me of the time i perused his music library in the CD stand in the living room, a step or two down from the kitchen. running my fingers up and down i find the rack filled with nothing but R&B, lots of divas, removed from my musical taste. at the time i was full on into electronica or something and only dabbled in r&b. this is practically ancient history, how long has it been since he had lived in that house 10 years? 12? memories like this are cemented in my psyche, but buried so deep i didn’t even realize they were there. that’s the way it is with me and music, as i’m sure it is for a lot of people. music stirs us, ignites and inspires us.

now, i write this in the aftermath of what happened in ottawa, two days since his birthday passed. i still feel the same way but it doesn’t prick at me quite so much. i read on my timeline that one of my FB friends knew Nathan Cirillo and i begin to think of the six degrees of separation. i cried when i heard about it. i cried when i watched kevin vickers stoically make his way into the house. i cried again and again. i couldn’t stop. but then i suppose i’ll cry over anything. i know i am overly sentimental. i can’t say the events of yesterday distracted me from the writing of this, i could use brewing coffee, searching for words or gazing out of the window as excuses but i also know that it’s just the way i am.

i know i haven’t dealt. i know i am feeling sorry for myself. it’s coming on 4 years since he died and i feel the loss more keenly. the further away i get from it the closer i get. every time i hear about a sudden death that no one can figure out i am shot right through with a reminder of him. i believe i fucked up. i am the big sister. i should have known better, and i did know better. there’s that thing that stops me every time, stops me from reaching out. my regret is tinged with anger at myself and as much as everyone says not to feel this way, i feel it. it stings me every time i realize that we won’t have our sessions over a good strong coffee.  the first time i heard him order that grande americano 3/4 full on one of his visits to toronto. it’s my drink now. that sardonic smile of his. how different are and how much the same. we rose like phoenixes out of our of shared experience in such different ways. he shot into the stratosphere, and I crumpled into myself.  so much so that i couldn’t seem to establish that closeness i so longed for with him and now long for with the girls he’s left behind….

i’m doing it again. agonizing over whether to post or not. i’m mixing up the voices. i know it is breaking a rule of writing, so i vacillate and  go back and forth leaving some of it in one, some of it in the other. ok, i fixed it all, i think. i am teased the hell out of it and it’s driving me crazy. the kink in my shoulder is telling me to just get on with it already, like tout de suite. it’s time to stand up and walk around, wash my face and go get some fresh air.

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What do you do when the parent you hardly knew suddenly dies?

My relationship with my father was fractious and tempestuous at times, but still it feels like part of me has disappeared into the ether; my connection to the human race unravelled ever so slightly. This is a ridiculous notion I know, but that’s just how I feel.  Even given how I felt about him at times. I still feel the need to shout it to the world “Hey, stop what you’re doing. Listen up, my father is gone.”  He was ill, this was day was coming, certainly sooner rather than later, however the suddenness made it a sucker punch to the gut. We had only just visited and seen him, sitting up in his hospital bed, albeit frail and small, weak from the battle. Hardly the man I remember from a recent visit, but we still had hope. There’s always hope.

I was separated from both of my parents for most of my life but my father was more the mystery. I grew up knowing my mother’s parents. My search for my father began out of curiosity. It was my him who lent the colour that tints my skin so nicely. It could hardly have come from my mother’s alabaster complexion. His contribution was the reason some black people called me zebra and some white people called me nigger. Finding him was deceptively simple though the only detail I had of him was where he might be living and his name, so I went to the library and looked for his name in that city’s local phonebook. There were two listings. I wrote  both the numbers down and carried them around until I felt brave enough to call. He answered the very first call.

What I wanted I thought was easy enough for him to divulge. I wanted to know where the roots of my tree went, who my ancestors were, what I passed on to my son. Despite the efforts of myself and my brother, my father was unyielding and it became the story of our lives. The more intransigent my father seemed the more we dug in. When my brother was alive we presented a united front. Stubborn. Unrelenting. On and on we danced throughout the years. Problem is what we didn’t know for the longest time was my father never really knew most of what we wanted to know and he didn’t talk about himself much or at all, so we learned almost nothing of his life story. Now that it has come to and end all I know is snatches of this and snippets of that. Looking through the pictures I have it seems to me had we asked a different question it would have made for long interesting evenings, instead I am left with a niggling regret.  Such is life.

After my younger brother died suddenly, my perspective changed. I let go and began to enjoy a different relationship with my Dad, and now he is also gone, just like that. I know this much. I am very much my father’s daughter and always will be and maybe that is enough. So RIP Dad, with love from your daughter.



a reprise….an epilogue

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I just reread the blog entry I just posted about my brother. I wanted it to be from the heart and honest and succinct. Now I just feel like I left so much out.

Truth is, I could have gone on and on, written pages in memoriam, but I restrained myself and now I have this feeling that it fell short of my objective, whatever it was. However, having said that, had I held onto it past the particular moment I decided to go for it, I could have edited it into oblivion and procrastinated for a very long time while I found the most suitable words to sum up how I felt in concert with the man he was. It could have sat in my typepad posts lists with the pencil in the little yellow box beside it for a very long time before I ever published it. So I just organized what I had, added some of what was in my head, edited it for clarity and hit the “Publish” button and committed to it;  owned it. I think Dale would have appreciated that. Take your best shot at the moment and what happens happens. Fair enough.

What I had intended to mention in there somewhere was that Dale transcended a truly awful existence and became a superlative of sorts. The top of his class, a world-class athlete, a man at the reaching the apex in his career; a doting, loving father, a great friend to all his mates. All things to all people, I suppose you could say.

On the day of his funeral I met a lot of tough guys struggling, some with tears streaming down their faces openly, trying to make sense of it as much as I. He was loved. What I left out, mostly by oversight, was that I loved him too.



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