Dale is gone and he is not coming back.
A day went by, then a week, a month and now another week from then has passed since he died and it is still impossible for me to believe that I will never see him again. This is the toughest truth to come to grips with and I suppose it always will be.
Dale was eulogized to brilliant perfection at his funeral. Still, I felt I had to write something personal. Writing is all I do at all decently, but I imagine even if I managed to produce the most magnificent masterpiece of writing that I could ever craft, it probably wouldn’t be good enough, not by half. I’m still struggling with the words I wanted to put down. I’ve wrestled with phrases and memories and words, attempting to craft a bit of a perfection befitting him. I’ve agonized over it, to the point of paralysis. Today is the day. I can write a perfect memorial later. It’s time to set this down.
My brother and I weren’t really close, but we had a bond. It’s difficult to describe our relationship, I suppose. It was forged in our hellish childhood days. And even though we lived in different cities at different points later in our lives, we always found a way to reconnect for small snatches of time. We didn’t have to say much. We just were in each other’s heads. We had a similar type of humour and a similar view of the world, so we got along really well when we were together.
By way of explanatory background it is important to know we were apprehended as young children by Family Services from that apartment where we lived on 17th avenue in Calgary. For a time we lived in a children’s shelter and then we were unceremoniously dumped into a foster home. We were kept separated and both suffered as many kinds of abuse as exists. In this environment Dale seemed to thrive, not as a result, but I would imagine in spite of it all. As if to show those horrible people that they could try as they might but would rise above them. Myself, i collapsed under it. I left when I was sixteen and moved to Vancouver at eighteen. Dale remained in Calgary, eventually going on to attend university.
I took my role of big sister seriously from early on. We would walk together the several blocks to and from school in downtown Calgary; he was 5 and I was 7. There were times when we could come home to a locked door and we would hang out in the laundry room, play in the local park to pass the time or on one occasion we even ventured into surrounding local buildings soliciting neighbours for something to eat. Those were different times then.
I’m still the serious one. Dale was the charmer, the life of the party; always smiling; the joker. The slideshows played at his viewing and funeral bore this out. In most every image he smiles wide at the camera and a glint of mischief gleams in his eyes. Truth is, I envied him as much as I admired him; like a lot of people did. He had it, that intangible quality so many of us wish we had, including me. He was on his way; the rising star on a steep upward trajectory.
The ache of his absence is palpable. I can be consoled only slightly by a phrase his friend Rob used to start and end his eulogy. “A light that burns twice as bright, burns twice as fast.”
Goodbye Dale, my Lil Bro. I will miss you.