Jack

The day he died, an eloquent friend wrote to say her sadness was shocking, indeed seismic; she hid herself from her less demonstrative family by descending to the basement and drowning out her weeping with the vacuum cleaner.

The same day the weather swept through with great amounts of wind and sunshine, rinsing off the world and adding an exquisite sense of wellbeing to my sadness. “It’s like a Greek tragedy,” I said to my husband, “the rise and fall of fortune.” The orange wave of New Democratic parliamentarians in May, the backwash of his rapid death in August.

“The gods sweep down,” my husband said, “and change things. Poor Jack.”

“Poor us.”

My husband has been reading The Iliad. The other day he came into the kitchen saying what a great storyteller Homer was. I asked him why and he thought for a moment. “He doesn’t rush. He takes his time to give details about every character. He has respect for the dead.”

It took time for Jack to find his feet. In the beginning I liked him, liked his optimism and energy and brashness. Then I lost my liking a couple of elections ago, turned off by his cockiness. The campaign was all about him rather than about the party, so it seemed. I reminded myself that anyone I knew who worked closely with him liked him tremendously. However, something wasn’t working in the way he came across. Then cancer dropped into his life a year ago, and his cockiness became pluckiness and his character rose above the fray.

It takes time, even as time is running out.

Don’t rush.

Revisit books you love. Revisit books you didn’t like; you might be ready for them now. Have patience with your son who seems adrift. Give him space and time (as you tell him to wake up and smell the coffee).

The night Jack died, my husband and I raised our glasses of wine on the back porch as the evening sun poured down and the temperature dropped.

“To the end of summer,” I said.

And he corrected me. “To the rest of summer.”

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