Don't have much time to write. Every spare moment is currently being consumed by my attempt to read a 425 page book entitled "This Mortal Coil." Just finished reading chapter 18. Though I have not yet got to chapter 21 (the seemingly favorite chapter of everyone), I would say this chapter is thus far my favourite chapter.
Somewhere earlier in your book you mentioned in a blog that, my paraphrase: "More than facts, I want story."
That is a sentiment that unites you and me. Yes, the DNA evidence is obviously of paramount importance, at least in terms of determining Grant's quilt/innocence. But, beyond that is the story of various people.
The parts of your book that I have enjoyed the most thus far were the parts that gave me insights into various characters, including yourself. I was moved by the story of the story behind the practice of taking off the shoes in the courtroom - "Take nothing in, take nothing out." I was moved by the story of the prophecy of the Indian man, a prophecy that ultimately led to Syras' perception that the courtroom should be revered as a sacred place, a holy of holies so to speak.
Finally, I was moved by the image of Syras, now a respected psychologist, pacing the halls of the law courts and actively praying for the jurors as they deliberated, then mobilizing others, so that someone was always actively praying for the jurors while they were in deliberation - impressive.
Just read Chapter 21. I thought you went after Saul Simmonds with a particular vengeance in this chapter. In hindsight, I don't think your "attack" on him was that much more focused than previous chapters, if it was any more intense at all. You certainly didn't cross the line from appropriate to inappropriate. You continued to respect Saul Simmonds as your learned friend. :)
Anyhow, by the end of the chapter, I think I now understand why everyone is so in awe of chapter 21.
It's the story of the late Liz Thomson, the crown lawyer at the provincial court of appeal. It's the story of the profound personal exchanges between the two of you, exchanges that become that much more powerful when the reader eventually learns that she knew she was fighting for her very life at the moment she talked to you. Of course, I was also greatly moved. You wrote that Liz Thomson told you about having a profound encounter with an unseen Candace.
Do you recall the somewhat similar story I told you of an experience I once had, on a beautiful summer day, driving my truck the 14 kilometre Confederation Bridge that connects New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island? I had the "vision" over four years ago now, in the summer of 2010..
My vision back in 2009, on a beautiful summer day, as I crossed the picturesque Confederation Bridge (14 kilometres in length) from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island (at least picturesque from the high vantage point of my truck, which allows you an awesome view of the both the ocean below and the island ahead):
Despite the good weather and natural beauty that surrounded me, my thoughts were dark, very dark that day.
My vision actually began approximately 40km before (at a traffic circle near a village called Port Elgin).
The "vision" began as thoughts in my mind, where I was trying to understand/envision what happened between Grant and Candace in that shed that fateful day.
As I began to ponder, tears began to form in my eyes. By the time I reached the bridge, the tears were pouring down both my cheeks. When I reached the middle of the bridge, I got my momentary inner mind-eye "vision." What did I see? You described it perfectly in this latest chapter, chapter 22.
Your description of what you think happened in that shed, at least at the height of its' vulgarity, matches my powerful vision from over four years ago now.
Just finished, Chapter 22 Wow…. Finished work at 5:00 p.m., walked home, read about some local sports in local newspaper, opened computer, ate a bowl of cereal, read chapter 22 (the chapter everyone, including yourself, is talking about), Again, Wow....
I did not hear from my friend for a while – and then another letter came.
Since I last responded after reading chapter 22, I suppose I should now begin with a reaction to chapter 23 about the possibility of a retrial. Though the chapter was well-written, unless you press me, I'm going to skip it. I promised to "be kind" and the Supreme Court of Canada will ultimately have the final word....
I read chapters 24 (Ottawa), 25 (Would you meet with him?), and the epilogue, on Saturday night, while stretched out in my lazy boy chair, with my laptop resting on my belly. I read everything else while sitting on my hard kitchen chair, with the laptop on top of my dining room table. Reading in my lazy boy chair was a mistake.
I was tired from working the two previous days, including Saturday, so dozed on and off as I read the remainder of the book. I was in too big a hurry to finish, and I did find it all somewhat anti-climatic....
But then I read your letter where you wrote that while you didn't cry much while writing the book - unlike when you wrote "Have You Seen Candace?" back in 1991 - you and Sue both cried as you read the last chapter together. I wondered what I missed?
As I tried to fall asleep after reading your letter, troubled by the seeming disconnect between your tears and my cold reaction to the conclusion of your book, I recalled a little detail, a brief three word sentence. Focusing on that detail - those three words - put everything into a different perspective for me.
In the context of a romantic dinner date with Cliff, as you were leaving the restaurant together, you wrote:
" As we leave the restaurant – we walk out together touching hands. I notice the waiter is smiling."
In light of this memory, your tears made sense to me, and I quickly fell asleep after that, with a smile on my face.
I'm actually very pleased with this book.
With the exception of one extremely important detail, you included everything. And for that, I commend you and thank you.
You noted in your preface that you recognized this book represented your perspective from a single moment in time, a perspective that could dramatically change tomorrow.
I appreciated you making that acknowledgement in the preface.
You noted that while "Have You Seen Candace?" accurately reflected your perspective when you wrote it (1991), it doesn't really reflect your perspective now.
That might be true, but I'm still thankful you wrote it the way you wrote it, when you wrote it. Nothing you wrote now could replace the brilliance of "Have You Seen Candace?"
I suspect your perspective on "This Mortal Coil" is also going to undergo significant change over the next few years.
Nevertheless, once that evolution in thinking ultimately happens, once you're somewhat embarrassed by your current perspective, I'm still going to say on that day that this book is an important book, that needed to be published when it was published.
While your thinking might (or might not :) undergo significant change in the future, it was still important to express your current perspective, at this time.
Your effort has been obviously enormous and thorough.
You gave completely of yourself, withholding nothing.
Now I want to reveal my two favorite chapters in the book.
Chapter one (Arrest) was my second favourite chapter, especially the story of "Green Thumb."
I'm glad Cliff chose to read it publically at your book launch at Soul Sanctuary.
It was comical and I'm sure Cliff heard much laughter as he read it.
But, while it was comical, it was also sadly tragic at the same time.... It brought tears to my eyes.
My most favorite chapter though was chapter 8 (Medical Examiner).
I note Mike McIntyre's terse tweet and your even more terse response:
"Fairly detailed description of body examination/autopsy coming up. Can't imagine how difficult this must be for Candace's family to listen to."
You wrote: "He was right."
Indeed, tears came to my eyes as you exhaustively communicated every horrid detail - albeit important details - surrounding Candace's corpse, as described through the testimony of Dr. Peter Markesteyn.
I took some comfort in knowing that Dr. Markesteyn seemed to make every effort to communicate to you his compassion for you, his sensitivity to the reality that his testimony, while essential, would also be painful for you.
Yet, in the midst of this horrific image created by Dr. Markesteyn, you created another image of Candace, a beautiful image of Candace.
Thank you for sharing the story of your sharing "Friends Are Friends Forever" with your parents, Candace's maternal grandparents.
In chapters 24 and 25, you describe two different private/romantic dinner dates, involving only you and Cliff.
The first dinner was at "The Round Table" on Pembina Highway.
The second dinner was at "Stella's."
Wilma, I now know from personal experience that marriage is difficult, even under the best of circumstances.
Over half of marriages end in divorce, and those that do "survive" - more often than not - usually involve partners who have real disdain for each other.
You and Cliff have a marriage that has not only survived in the midst of unimaginable tragedy, but has also seemed to thrive.
The next time some reporter asks you if you've forgiven Mark Grant, try this answer:
"I don't know. But Cliff and I enjoyed a very romantic dinner date last night."
I think you'll have fun answering the follow-up questions. :)