Chocolate - came through the door again. Toblerone and of course that lovely Lindt.
Gerry, our pastor came in with both, words and chocolate. Intense Black Current Lindt to reflect the moment, Chili to acknowledge the sting, and Lime Zest to capture our spirit. He threw in a package of Maynards - Sour Patch Kids to express something - we are not quite sure what. He also came with
At the end of the first day of interviews, Cliff and I sat down and read all the emails. The words were like a soothing lullaby to end a rather crazy day. Thank you to all of you who wrote, phoned and let us know that you were there -- a background presence to support us.
In appreciation, I thought I would just blog the last chapter of This Mortal Coil, which I have updated, to continue to bring you along on our journey.
It is meant as an assurance that the words and gestures have been appreciated - and powerful.
Chapter 26 - This Mortal Coil - A
After a great blow, or crisis, after the first shock and then after the nerves have stopped screaming and twitching, you settle down to the new condition of things and feel that all possibility of change has been used up. You adjust yourself, and are sure that the new equilibrium is for eternity. . . But if anything is certain it is that no story is ever over, for the story which we think is over is only a chapter in a story which will not be over, and it isn't the game that is over, it is just an inning, and that game has a lot more than nine innings. When the game stops it will be called on account of darkness. But it is a long day. Robert Penn Warren.
We were flummoxed
It was an email from Richard Cloutier, producer at CJOB, one of Winnipeg’s most popular radio stations, Monday mid-morning, that alerted us that the justice system was again on the move.
"I gather you know we have a date. This Thursday for the decision. Do you have a few minutes
please for a chat? I hope you are well."
I hadn’t known. "Thanks, Richard. I don't have anything to say. I don't know what the decision will be. How do you know these things so quickly?”
He sent me the link.
I checked. OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada announced today that judgments in the following appeals will be delivered at 9:45 a.m. EST on Thursday, March 5 and Friday, March 6, 2015. This list is subject to change.
I wrote him back immediately. "Thanks Richard. You can call me on Thursday - after I know. Up till then - nothing has changed for us.” I paused, then added. “Do you still remember the night of the verdict when you hopped into our car to talk? It was full moon that night - crazy isn't it - how the story continues?"
He wrote back, "I remember it too well. I remember all our conversations. Sometimes I wish I could forget but I am hoping and praying for justice. What’s the best way to reach you on Thursday?
"I will be at home...."
I pushed the send button.
It seemed like yesterday, the evening of the verdict, but so much had happened since -- the decision by the Manitoba Court of Appeal to overturn the verdict and order a retrial, the application to the Supreme Court of Canada, their acceptance, and then all of us travelling to Ottawa to appear at the November 14, 2014 Supreme Court of Canada hearing.
It had not been an easy trip – to organize or execute. The first day I had called around to find out who still wanted to come to Ottawa. Heidi, Candace’s best friend, told me that she was very ill, and later was diagnosed with cancer. The father of our daughter-in-law, Natasha, was in the hospital gravely ill so she had to travel to Sudbury to be with him and her family, taking Anna their daughter, which meant we had Simeon, a two-year-old, with us.
Even though many of us were ill with colds, flus and such, we still all arrived on time. My sister, Lu, from BC, her daughter, Theresa, Richard, a family friend from the East, Sue and Howie from Winnipeg, Bill and Marlene Janzen from Ottawa, who helped us look after Simeon, Donna Mae Klassen, a niece who lived near Ottawa, our daughter and son, Odia and Larry Reimer, Syras with Simeon came with us.
All of us had been duly impressed with the grand, historical building, overlooking the Ottawa River and the candelabrum-style fluted metal lamps flanking the entrance. When we asked our little grandson, Simeon, what he thought of the huge entrance room with its marble walls and marble floors, he looked around, his blue eyes taking it all in, then said, “It has no food in it.”
The courtroom itself was just as beautiful and regal, with the seven Judges: Rosalie Silberman Abella, Marshall Rothstein, Thomas Albert Cromwell, Michael J. Moldaver, Andromache Karakatsanis, Richard Wagner, and Clément Gascon, sitting behind the bench with Amiram Kotler and Rekha Malviya for the Appellant, and Saul Simmonds, Vanessa Hebert, and Laura Robinson for the Respondent taking the podium for their allotted times.
We liked the idea that the debate had been contained, each side given 60 – and only 60 minutes -- for each discussion. Not back and forth. We noticed how Ami and Rekha seemed so comfortable, Ami calling the Judges by name, remaining unrattled when he was asked pointed questions.
The most shocking moment was when one of the judges asked Simmonds if there had been any indication of sexual assault in either the Box Car case or Candace’s case.
Simmonds had said, “No.”
No! How could he say that so convincingly? Did the judges believe him?
After the two-hour hearing, we went to debrief at a unique Ethopian restaurant, Horn of Africa, which had a picture of Nelson Mandela on the wall.
Over lunch, we took the time to go around the table and ask everyone to predict the outcome of the hearing – and their reasoning. There were fourteen of us; ten thought the judges would uphold the guilty verdict, four thought that the judges would rule in favor of the Manitoba Court of Appeal ruling and order a retrial. It turned out that the four were right.
To commemorate this moment for us and our family, I had brought the “Candace Rose” with us from Winnipeg, the one that had accompanied us through the three-day deliberations – and had remained vital and fresh. It did freeze the night the verdict came down, but I could not throw it away; so I just hung it on my dresser mirror and let it dry. There is something very beautiful about dried roses. There is something even more beautiful about a rose that was alive, frozen and then dried. Its petals look like antique silk. I had it with me the entire trial. I had brought it to the Supreme Court of Canada because one of the attractions of the Supreme Court building are the pair of bronze statues, each three-meters high – the iconic statues of Truth and Justice. They loom over the stairs leading up to the court’s entrance.
I was especially interested in the statue of Truth! I had been in pursuit of truth for the last seven years. Lady Truth has very beautiful, delicate facial features and is dressed in a long, flowing gown.
Before we left, I laid the dried rose at the feet of the goddess of Truth, making my little statement, “Love first, truth and justice a very close second.”
Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone—we find it with another. —Thomas Merton.
After that, we still had time to enjoy the city of Ottawa, walking through the market, watching a documentary about the Camino Trail, visiting the National Gallery of Canada, and spending time with our niece and her family.
There was one more moment of significance during our stay worth noting here. As a group we wanted to attend the Camino Trail together, a documentary about a pilgrimage route through northwestern Spain, taken by many as spiritual retreat, a kind of spiritual path. We felt it was a good ending to the day.
However, during the afternoon we all kind of went our separate ways, deciding to meet at the theatre at a certain time. We went back to the hotel to be with our son and grandson Simeon. About twenty minutes prior to the start of the movie, we realized that we needed to hurry.We grabbed a taxi.
As we climbed into the taxi - and for the duration of the 15 minute ride - a strange storm blew in - suddenly transforming the streets of Ottawa into a scene from Siberia - people disappearing into shelters very quickly, becoming desolate with swirls of wind sweeping through the street, a kind of mini blizzard with a feeling of darkness and foreboding.
The cab driver remarked on it - almost in awe of the change of mood the storm brought in.
After the movie we came out - the storm was gone - and so was every trace of it. Had it happened? What was that?
I then recognized the signature storm. It felt the same as the day we buried Candace, the night of deliberation at the Law Courts building and now the evening of the Supreme Court hearing.
I can't help but wonder at the similarity, the timing, and find comfort that the wind has been noticing and playing out the turmoil of our lives.
Sunday evening, we left Ottawa knowing that it could take up to six months for the Supreme Court of Canada to write their decision.
(....to be continued.)
Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass - it is about learning to dance in the rain. Anonymous.