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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.


til later Lil Bro

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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.

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