I caught a glimpse of you staring back at me as I walked by the bevelled mirrors of the china cabinet today.  I saw you in the window off the deck last week.  I heard your voice as I changed the voicemail message on my phone.  But not really, because you’re dead.

I know you’re dead because Step-sister left a message on my phone telling me so.

I called her after I listened to the voicemail several times with the message of three flat words telling me you died today.  I asked “what happened?” She said you had your death all planned and her part of the plan was to manage the telephone tree and call me to notify me and there is no more information for me. That ended our call. 

I get it that you died.  She told me. I talked about it with our brother after she called and that was the end of anything to do with your death.  Step-mom never mentioned it, no obituary was in the local paper, no nothing. It’s as if the telephone tree notification was all that was required or expected.

So yeah, I catch glimpses of you which are really my reflection. And I hear your voice which is really mine. After all, genetics are a strong force that can’t be erased; can’t be denied.  You and I had the same eyes, the same walk, the same voice which creeped me out the first time I heard your phone message and thought it was me talking. You could say we weren’t close. You haven’t been to my house for over 30 years, and it was only a few times before that even though you drove by many, many times. I stopped at your house once and you were overjoyed to see me but that faded as the “we don’t want you in our lives” step-family contingent took you over again.  

I don’t know where you are. Maybe that’s why I keep dreaming about you.  Are you buried in a grave? Are your ashes spread in some flower bed? What happened to you? And why didn’t you tell me, who shared a room with you through your childhood night terrors, who shared a Mom with you, that you were dying? Why wasn’t it in your plan to tell me goodbye? I ask the reflection in the window but there’s no answer.

I remember Dad calling you Goosie where you were little, taking me back to times of matching dresses with sashes tied in the back, a shared room and being my sister.



blue sky through the burn



We went for a drive on the weekend and ended up driving through acres and acres of forest that had burned two years ago.  It was so stark; almost a shock to drive through  beautiful evergreen forest and suddenly be in a landscaped transformed by wildfire.

This time of year can be stark here in any case as the grasses and bushes are still winter worn and dry, and the willows are just beginning to show little fuzzies of impending spring. It’s a time of frost coming out of the ground, mud, rushing creeks and sunshine warming  us up in a hurry.

As we drove through the burn, looking at the extent and almost painfulness of it, we marvelled at the unexplained randomness of a tall green tree in the middle of the burned patches, and I noticed the blazing blue sky above.

The blue of the sky brought the beauty and the deep-breath feeling that the clear Canadian sky still brings to me even after seeing it for years. The sky that in a strange way provides a grounding to me. I remember the first time I saw the bluest sky I could imagine and I marvelled at the absolute clarity of it – and I still do as I look out my window.

In the quiet time driving, my thoughts turned to a friend of mine who just last week held her Dad’s hand as he took his last breath and passed away. She had lost him before that though as he fell into the depths of dementia.  As she talked about this, and posted a picture of her with her Dad, I was reminded painfully of losing my Dad much the same way and of a picture I have of Dad and I mirroring hers.  Dementia and Alzheimer’s are insidious like a slow burn as we watch our loved one slip into that unstoppable inferno.

It was quite awhile before I could look through the pain and see the beauty and the memories and take a full deep breath knowing that there is blue sky after the burn but it did happen.  I wish this for you, Kim.