Having Faith.

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There’s this adage about how when you let go of something that doesn’t serve you, you create space for better things to to come into your life.

On some level, it seems a little woo woo…I mean, you can’t expect to just ditch everyone at any sign of discomfort and then expect “better” things to just drop in your lap, you know?

But when you are aware, paying attention to *why* certain things/people don’t serve you, and how you create more space for yourself to take care, and then also try to build connections with people that genuinely do respect what you have to offer, whether personally or professionally…

Well, it is somewhat organic, but not effortless.

It’s part of life work—and when we treat it as such, when we trust our intuition, it does work in our favour.

As a semi-nomadic freelancer, I feel like I have a little heartbreak a few times a week these days: a weird client, something that reminds me of a past lover being gone from my life…almost every day, there’s a little goodbye.

I’ve struggled to find the *hellos* the past couple of years; really there’s been a lot of transition and I have found myself extremely lonely on a regular basis.

I don’t mean to dismiss the amazing connections that I’ve made…it’s just been different.

Out of these transitions came a ton of space that I’m finding the courage to work with, and it feels like something is finally happening. I still have to work at it, and I still have trouble with the goodbyes.

But today I had that little (big) feeling of knowing that…yeah, I’m actually creating the perfect life for myself. There will be bumps, but maybe I can actually, really, do it.

So: Gratitude to the ones who choose to work things out, who ask how things are, who just take the time to connect, professionally and personally, those people who say “I know you are good, I know you can do it, keep going,” in some way or another.

You are the people that make me understand why I can’t hang out in the darkness of goodbye.

Thank you for letting me know that the space I take up in this lifetime, whatever life is, matters.

That’ll be the Day (it’s Raining in my Heart).

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I’ve been wanting to share this for a while, but have been struggling with what was appropriate.

I wanted to wait until things were a little less fresh, to be sure that I was sharing authentically.

My Dad passed away on November 21, 2016.

It had been more or less expected. I was not by his side.

I have so much to share about him, about us.

I haven’t really talked much about our relationship. Writing about it seems to be the most appropriate way to process and share. And I know that, even though he was a relatively private person, he understood enough about why I write to get it. He wasn’t very comfortable, at first, with me sharing everything with the world, but then I wrote this, which he read, and he understood. From then on, he was one of my biggest supporters.

He would appreciate this too (and does, if he’s here in spirit, which I sure hope he is).

The last day that I spoke to him on the phone, him in Princeton, BC and me in Montreal, QC, was an oddly lovely day. The sadness had been overcoming me for days, if not weeks, but I’d walked through Mount Royal park, taking photos of warm-fluorescent-coloured leaves.

He didn’t see these photos in the end, even though he was still alive at the time. Had he seen them, I’m sure that he would have understood the depth of my delight in those moments, of just being out there, breathing and rejoicing in those colours.

On that day, there was this strange thing where, even though I knew he was going, I realized that I was happy. I was incredibly sad because I was losing him, but at the same time, I was so glad that he’d taught me the importance of seeing through the suffering in the world.

In this instance, it would have been seeing through suffering by capturing a glimpse of colour in nature. But he also taught me to see though it in different ways—not by ignoring the suffering, but by sitting with it, and still seeing into it.

He taught me what it was to just go out and see the world, to notice (and capture) the texture, the dark and the light spots, the grey tones and the colour.

Since he passed, I’ve been processing grief through a series of personal journal entries to him, things that happen in a given day that make me think about him and feel his presence.

I’ve decided to share them, starting today, three months later.

**

Dear Dad,

I had a great day today. I spoke with a lovely and supportive friend, one of the people who was instrumental in me sharing my writing. 

During the afternoon, I took a 25 bus from Nanaimo station to the UBC loop. The fellow driving the 25 on the way over was speaking Chinese (Cantonese?) to an older Asian woman who had apparently gotten on the wrong bus. I appreciated how he was able to communicate to her.

You would have appreciated that too, I think.

I remember how you told me stories about driving the older generations of women coming to Chinatown to do their shopping in the evenings, how that would be their thing. That’s just what they’d do, every weekend, early in the mornings, they’d pile on your bus and you’d drop them off in Chinatown where they’d buy authentic ingredients to cook for their families on the weekends.

How amazing was that, that you got to carry a piece of this culture, of so many backgrounds and cultures, every day? Your eyes were open. 

That’s one of the many things I loved about you, Dad. Your eyes were open. You didn’t judge, you just observed. I’m sure you judged, at times—we all do. But what you shared with me was about observing, about learning, about tolerance. 

Back to the trail. Even before I actually hit the trees, I felt immediately at ease in the fresh air, in the way that the afternoon held the quiet, despite the construction and traffic noises. I walked north towards the ocean, then took a right along the trail above the shoreline.

I’d spent so much time on the beaches below in the past—Acadia, Spanish Banks, Locarno—-I was surprised I hadn’t walked this trail before. 

How could I have missed it?

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As I walked, I noticed striking contrasts—you’d know the type, how the sunlight would quickly sink away from the west side of the city on a winter afternoon. When I finally got down to the beach, after having found the quintessential wide-step wooden staircase created so that we could wind our way down the steep earthy banks, I saw the most spectacular sunset reflected on the low tide. Then I immediately regretted not keeping the camera you and Mom had given me. I’d given it back because it was bulky.

It had seemed excessive in the midst of my minimizing.

Just today, (and not for the first time), I was captured by the way the tide-cloud-sky patterns created a particular kind of picture on that specific stretch of beach. I looked at the water, at the spectacular moments around me then, and I got it. I got why you wanted to give me that camera. It was so that I could share what I saw even more clearly than I could with any phone camera.

I knew this before, but I just felt it so clearly at that moment. I hadn’t felt clear like this since a day in Montreal watching cormorants by the St. Lawrence, and then the day with the bright leaves in the park. Both times I felt you and what you brought me, how you always encouraged me and supported me in following my purpose and passions. I felt a certain type of clarity and joy that I rarely have before.  

The only reason I even learned how to see that in the first place was through you.

So tonight I was doing dishes when I got home. I put on Buddy Holly and I thought of how two of the last really lovely in-person moments that we would have had together, just us, had to do with music.

One was when we were at the Sylvia and I played you a cover album of Buddy Holly hits. We talked about the cover songs…you weren’t sure about some of them (neither was I!) but the point was that we listened together to this new/old iconic set of songs. The original album would shape your generation in a big way, and it would also shape us in a very personal way.  

The other moment was when I was driving (you were giving me a refresher course, 20-something years after you had originally taught me to drive well), and you sat beside me in the passenger seat of “Raven,” (the car), shrunken and pale and frail, the way you’d been getting for the past couple of years. It was disconcerting, of course, to those around you, but it was the course of life. You were a little sick, but not terribly sick, as it were, at that time, and you were with us, which was such a gift. And then, even when you were frail, there was this certain spark of life that I saw inside of you, those last few times, despite your discomfort and general malaise. I know it got worse, and I wasn’t there, and maybe I was selfish staying away, I’m not sure.

So there we were, driving along the highway in the Okanagan, singing tunes in your car, the way we had a million times before: Buddy Holly, Elvis. These same albums you’d had in the car since forever. You knew the words, I knew the words, and we’d sing gently together, gliding along the soft sunny curves in the road. 

Those were the best kinds of moments that stood out: quiet and simple and easy. 

*

Music might seen a trite type of connection for some people, but it means the most to me. through music and nature, my Dad made me understand something unexplainable but deep about himself, his life, and the world around us.

And what a part of history he experienced: Hot rodding around Montreal and bopping over to Ottawa to see Elvis in ’57…no big deal (!!).

 

This doesn’t just stick with me; it’s a big part of who I am, because it was part of him too.

I tell my blues
They mustn’t show
But soon these tears
are bound to flow
(’cause it’s raining
raining in my heart). 

~ Buddy Holly

I love you, Dad.

I decided to be honest.

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via Dikaseva at Unsplash

You’re gone again, just like the last time, and the time before that.

Over and over again, there you went.

The spaces between our visits varied: first came big gaps, then smaller.

Then when you really left, it was a leap across our country, then into another.

I know how it feels to want to go.

The last time I saw you, you said “I’ll see you soon” with such clarity that it jolted me into the realization that it must be a lie.

It was so easy for you to say the opposite of what was really going to happen. A part of me wishes that it were that easy for me too.

I should probably get better at faking it–and by “it” I don’t mean orgasms, I mean any little moment that requires a lie to hurt less.

Life might feel like less of a fight if lies could just flow. Mostly I mean those little white lies that benefit everyone and harm no one.

Mostly.

(Kind of like how when I was honest with the doctor—that backfired too.)

How is it that a person can feel like such a big part of your life, yet you were and are so small to them?

Why do I always feel like the small one?

I’d like to be all shiny and rosy about it, but what I’ve learned from love is that there’s more to life than honesty and authenticity: we have to choose where to be the most transparent. We have to choose who we’re honest with, what we say, when it comes to our bodies, souls, hearts. Not to build completely impermeable barriers, but maybe semi-permeable.

I’m talking about a balancing act: Bleeding open-hearted everywhere is not always the best bet

I played the fool, over and over again, in the name of authenticity. Left bereft, belittled, graceless and strange. Solution-less. There was no answer behind that coming in and shuffling out.

I asked, you delivered. You got me high, then hit me right where I needed it most.

It was exciting and refreshing.

Even the aftercare—being with me moments and day(s) after. That was what I needed most, and also what was the most misleading.

But it’s not fair to pretend that you care like that. It doesn’t matter that you are “supposed” to do. It would be better to just not stay. Staying for longer than a day, a week, a year, when you don’t really want to—lying like that is more hurtful than just leaving.

I eventually figured out when to believe you and not, but by then it was too late—ergo, I’m the fool.

I always felt empowered as I would walk out your door, confident that there was no more to go back to, because I knew I’d always be in the background, not the foreground. We got close enough so that I’d see just enough into your life to let me know that I’d never be enough.

So when I left, it was okay.

For you there was and will always have to be something new—curvy and colorful, pristine, ready to delight you.

I know, I know your heart was in there, with mine, for just a minute. But it came and went so fast that now I barely even believe myself that that was true.

It’s been two years since you mostly left, and six months since the last time. I lie here and my thoughts turn to that time when I was somehow at my most beautiful, beaming through the bullshit.

It’s exhausting, lying here wondering why mostly people from my past seem to find it easy to see me as a mere acquaintance now, no matter what kind of relationship we had. Maybe we lived together, maybe we shared the deepest intimacy. Maybe the drugs inflated things somewhat—but it still meant something.

I can’t help but wonder what you thought of me after the sex haze drifted away. I was just another one of those girls on your list. I was more than that, but also less.

Too emotional. Too into sex. Not firm enough. Too open.

Too much of this and never enough of that.

I’m tired of playing small.

I know for a fact that you don’t think about me anymore because I never get that pang. I used to get a pang now and then where I just knew I was on your mind.

I do miss you, that feeling, and I hate it. You missed me once a little too.

But not now.

We’ve faded and it’s better this way—my world is a little dull. You are still playing and doing all the things you want, life is exactly where you want it. You have all the choice in the world: a steady job, lots of money, at least one woman who loves you wholeheartedly.

You can have anything you want, and even if you dont’ know what you want, you have everything you think you want. And will have more of that.

That’s what counts, really, doesn’t it? That we work to attain what we think we want? We like to ramble on about how money is not important, but really money is key to attaining what is both important and not important.

Money means the freedom and space to figure it out. And if at the end of the day we don’t have it figured out, then money at least allowed us the freedom to try to find that.

So now it’s just smoother, easier. The photos are prettier, and easier to explain, more exciting to show off. Right?

It’s comfortable for me to stay alone and for you to stay with her (them).

Easy.

I went to New Orleans, you know. Did you know how much I love live music? We never really went to see the kinds of shows that I love. I think that kind of jazz is too lowbrow for you.

I decided to be honest and that got me exactly nowhere, save a few good times and a semi-feigned feeling of love that I am terrified I will never find again.

Noone understands it, either. They saw through you, and so they clapped when I said I deleted your number.

They applauded that finality, but it’s not something I celebrate, because it reminds me of the terror of never knowing that feeling again.

It all still hangs at the back of my heart as a missing piece, and probably always will.