40’some Birthdays and some funerals…remniscient thoughts from the morning of my birthday this week. I wasn’t sure why my late cousin was on my mind that morning but maybe now I understand.
February 23rd, 2010 4:12am
The last time I saw my cousin David was in Brisco, BC…the Gateway to the Bugaboos…that was 1980 something. Highschool, girlfriends, rock and roll, parents…you know the time. We went out on a couple of those 3 wheel ATV’s into the back-roads of the Bugaboo Range. I grew up from the time before I could walk on motorcycles but had never been on three wheels and David just smiled and said ‘lets go’ (yes…they were outlawed soon after). Somewhere up a cut-road I managed to get a flat rear tire and he switched me bikes and rode home hanging off one side to keep the weight off the flat and make sure we didn’t do any more damage to Uncle Joe’s bike (aka so he wouldn’t kill us for heading up there in the snow in the first place…oh ya, did I mention the snow?) We made it back to their place in one piece, I moved on to bigger motorcycles that summer and my cousin and his family moved back to the prairies.
I was in University in Calgary when my sister called to tell me he died. He was 16 years old (god bless him). In the wake of the accident that ended his life I packed a new suit and “The Big Chill” soundtrack (both cassette tapes) into my parent’s Turbo Diesel Jetta and didn’t realise I missed the turn north to Saskatoon until I was 3 hours south. Prairie people drive…it’s what they do and being born there it’s in my blood. The nine turned twelve hours in the car were like a home-coming between waiting for the good songs on the other side of the cassette tape, between the songs that left my generation here, between grain elevators and that place where 140 slows to a crawl in windswept yellow lines that run straight to the horizon. Sunshine, mustard fields, green river valleys…home is a place in time, once upon a time.
My best friend in so many ways I didn’t realise then was a girl I met working early mornings at the Gap Kids store at 6:00am changing window displays while putting myself through school. She was 16 and when I look back after working together for so many years maybe in my own way I was the big brother she never had. In life, we don’t choose the people we love or whether they come and go from our lives but they are there for me still, like the first time, like the voices under the snow. I heard from her yesterday that she lost her unborn child last week…and 20 years later I am so sad for my friend and her husband and their loss.
February 24th, 25th…more…
Spent the day yesterday reading and replying to all the birthday messages on the voicemail, e-mail, and Facebook since I was unplugged for the day with my family proudly wearing the tinfoil Olympic birthday crown my wife and son made making our way on buses and up stairs to more Olympic events than any family of four with a 10 month old in a stroller should attempt (note to self…write a story about how impossible it is to go to Olympic sites with a stroller). Then I saw the news that CR Johnson died skiing at home in Squaw Valley near Tahoe…and I stopped in my tracks. I didn’t know CR but for his skiing…but after Shane McConkey, after Denis Fontaine, after my cousin David, after my best friend’s baby, after them all I feel the loss of humanity, that the world is a little less complete than it was only a day ago…