Just a thought… I keep myself busy with the things I do, but every time I pause, I think of you. [Author Unknown]
Like you, I have a lot to try to sort through as we learn more about the motive and the madness that went into Monday’s devastation and horror. While we all try to do that, I’ll share with you a journal I had prepared to run yesterday. Like so much of the conversation surrounding Toronto’s horror, it is a reminder of connection and of the things that matter most in this life: love and kindness. E.
Two blue suitcases.
They just sat there, zipped and locked tight by the front door, just as far as we’d had the energy to wheel them into the house after a long wait for an airport taxi we thought might never pick us up and take them home, in those wee, small hours of Tuesday last week.
For over two days – 57 hours to be precise – those year-old but already scarred hard-bodied suitcases sat there, a reminder of our fatigue and our journey, our loosened rules and heightened freedom.
When, at last on Thursday, we needed something that we hadn’t just thrown into our carry-on when we fled for a flight that turned out to be on time instead of two hours delayed, we rolled the two heavy suitcases into our bedroom and began to unpack. Birthday cards and gifts for Rob, including a framed photo that read “Grandpa & Me” from Colin. Chocolates and a clipboard, as well as a makeshift acoustic foam studio set-up that got us a voice job while we travelled.
Silently we separated laundry from things to be put away or hung up, setting aside a neat stack of recycling made up of envelopes and shopping receipts. As we unpacked, putting away glue-on lashes and packages of contact lenses until next month, pantyhose until I absolutely have to wear them and hanging a dress I said a silent “thank you” to for letting me fit into it again, I could feel my heart starting to sink.
It plummeted when plans for a long walk in springtime fresh air evaporated as Rob reminded me that he had taxes to work on. Molly’s enthusiasm to go outside was dampened by a sick tummy she’d had since we’d gotten home (or perhaps before). As we walked our neighbourhood out of necessity instead of celebration of the beauty of the day, I found myself fighting and ultimately giving in to tears.
I stopped to blow my nose on a paper towel that I’d tucked into my pocket in case Molly’s tummy necessitated a bit of extra cleanup. As I paused, I looked down to see a beautiful large hibiscus-like blossom on the curb. Nowhere around me could I see where this crimson flower might have grown, but there it was. I picked it up and carried it for the remainder of the silent walk, punctuated only by my quiet sniffles and the sounds of the end notes of “Strawberry Fields” coming from someone’s house as we passed by.
I remembered seeing how Colin would begin to cry when his parents would leave, and it felt familiar: pursed lips, moist eyes and then just a few silent tears. And that’s when I realized that it wasn’t the unpacking that had made me sad, or the derailed plans for an enthusiastically enjoyed spring day.
It was that the trip had ended: the one we’d anticipated for months, the time with a little boy we’ll love forever, and the laughter and hugs that we’ve missed so much. Those twin monoliths at the front door served as reminders that it wasn’t over yet, but opening them up and emptying their contents most definitely signalled an end.
Oh yes, the bags will be put to use in May when Rob and I make the trek across to Kelowna for work and to see family. The studio will be unfolded and propped on a chair or bed. The miniature toiletries and carefully-counted-out vitamins and supplements will once again find their sandwich bags, and be tucked safely into freezer bags for travel.
But there will be no trips, no visits ever that we look forward to with as much love, anticipation and full-on joy as those that end at an Ottawa address. Until next time, sweet boy.
~ Love, Grama and Granddad Banana.