friday, march 02
"I believe every moment of our life has the potential for resurrection, redemption and reconciliation." - Dana Atchley
It was at Dana Atchley's funeral when I realized the disservice I'd done to my father all those years ago.
He passed away a mere eighteen months after my mother lost her battle with cancer. And while my mother fought through months of chemotherapy and radiation, my father's passing was almost gentle in comparison. His heart just stopped working. They found him one morning at home, slumped over with one shoe off, and one shoe on.
We retrieved his ashes from the funeral home and drove up into the Gatineau's, through the early spring melt towards Ridge Road. We'd spent many weekends there with him, skiing through the twisty cross country ski trails as he had done with my mother in the years before their divorce.
One year, when we were quite young, Claire came straight out of her boots, over her skis, head first into a snow bank on Drum Sticks. I still remember the look of complete indignation on her face when Daddy pulled her out of the snow bank. I tried to stifle the inevitable giggles while he patiently wiped her tears and helped her back into her boots.
Walking through a spring melt is always a challenge, but it was a beautiful sunny day and we pushed forward. The tall pines formed a cathedral arch that swayed gently in the breeze and at some point, a large snowy owl joined our procession, swooping amongst the branches as we walked towards Shilly Shally.
During my parents day, Shilly Shally had been a private cabin that could be rented for a few days, but by our time, it was owned by the National Capital Commission and was a place where one could stop and warm cold feet or feed the Chickadees.
We paused at the burbling spring brook, spoke a few words and then spent awkward minutes struggling with the slab of plastic that contained his ashes as we'd stupidly neglected to mention that we intended to spread them. Minutes later, with the aid of a Bic pen, we pried the box open and spread them across the narrow stream. We'd brought fresh flowers which once strewn, looked incongruous against the mud and snow of the melt.
The disservice? Not giving others the chance to celebrate his life with us. I'll remedy that at some point in the future, but back then, it was too soon, too sudden, too raw, and Claire and I hadn't been ready to bury another parent.
Yesterday? The big hole.
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