I wrote this essay in 2016. It was my first attempt at writing since the death of my son, two years earlier.
The house is silent. CNN has been
muted. The kitchen radio and my phone are off. It’s just me and the
computer. The cursor flashes expectantly.
Don’t await greatness today, computer.
We’re in hostile territory here. Because, now, the thoughts I have so
carefully muffled behind a wall of noise are free and they want to be
I was a freelance writer until January
27, 2014. That’s the day my 27-year-old son, David, died.
And here I am, two years later, in my
office, at my desk, attempting to trick my mind into thinking I’m
working on a piece for publication.
It was my therapist’s idea. She thought
doing something that I once found satisfying might give my fractured
life some structure. So I look upon this as a homework assignment
which I will hand in to my teacher next week. I’m prepared to spend
an hour here, even if it’s just to watch the impatient pulsing of the
I see him, this young man, moving
aimlessly through the crowded living room.
The dining table is laden with food:
cold cuts, salads, desserts. Every now and then someone picks a grape
or strawberry from an edible display, one of those decorative
arrangements that uses fruit instead of flowers.
Still, there is no shortage of flowers.
The air is thick with their scent. Birds of Paradise swan gracefully
from a crystal vase. Orchids, roses, daisies, jostle for space on any
available surface.They seem so out of place in the dark, waning days
Every few minutes the doorbell rings
with another delivery. The dog has given up barking and hunkers down
under the dining table looking miserable.
A blast of arctic air pushes past me into the yoga studio. The sun has not yet risen, leaving those brave enough to venture out at the mercy of the ice fog and biting winds. It is January in Edmonton. The dead of winter is alive and well.
I hang up my parka, stuffing my mitts and toque into one sleeve. The snow is melting from my boots even before I pull them off. I begin to relax. This is my community. Here I can forget for just a little while what awaits me beyond these walls.
I have been coming to this space four or five times a week since January 2014. It is my refuge, my sanctuary. Here, I find peace from the ever-present reality that my son, David, is dead.
Holidays and celebrations are particularly difficult for people grieving the loss of a loved one. When our son, David Finkelman, was killed at the age of 27, our lives changed forever. This is an excerpt from my diary. I refer to David’s girlfriend as “M.”
Wednesday, February 14, 2018:
Valentine’s Day. We were hit by freezing rain overnight. This morning, I inched along behind the dog, my crampons all but useless on the smooth, glassy streets.
The snow danced wildly around me, whipped into a frenzy by the north wind. I was blinded by a veil of whiteness. Blinded by the white. Blinded by the light.
Valentine’s Day. Suddenly, I was remembering Valentine’s Day 2014. It came just weeks after David was struck and killed in a crosswalk. The bleakest of times. We were zombies, moving through a world we no longer recognized. Blinded by the darkness.
Part of the reason we started our blog was to give voice to others who have lost loved ones. The following was submitted by Mary Riley in memory of her daughter, Clare.
On June 30th 2013, our daughter Clare Ann Riley Patershuk was killed by a drunk driver.
Clare was 26 years old and earlier in the month had been granted a Masters degree in Educational Psychology from the U.of A.
There are so many things we want you to know about her. She was loving, intelligent, beautiful, wise, caring and funny. She painted and drew. She loved animals, particularly horses, and spent a lot of her leisure time on the back of a horse. She was the daughter we longed for, the daughter we loved so much.
This photograph was featured prominently in the Edmonton Journal.
At first glance, it looks harmless enough: A little girl and a man standing by the side of a snowy road. The man appears to be waving and the girl is holding up a large cardboard cut-out of a cow.
But look closer and you see the word, “Radar” printed across the cow’s body.
The man is Jack Shultz, Edmonton’s infamous photo radar denier, warning motorists of a nearby photo radar location. The cow, of course, is a tool to trumpet (or perhaps moo) Mr. Shultz’s oft-repeated message that photo radar is a cash cow, the city’s way of lining its coffers.
For some reason, Mr. Shultz feels it’s his duty to inform the masses of the wrongs he believes are being perpetrated upon them by photo radar. He insists enforcement of the practice doesn’t work. He says there is no evidence showing it slows drivers down.
The Snow Queen swept through Edmonton overnight, riding in on the north wind to claim the city as her own polar realm.
Ice crystals, like the broken pieces of a thousand mirrors, glint under street lamps. Tree branches bow beneath a layer of hoarfrost. My breath bursts from my body in puffy white clouds, before vanishing into the early morning blackness.