Four important Boxes!
I don’t know.....
I don't think there is a set protocol. I haven't found a seven-step guide.
So right from the beginning, I justI covered it with a good layer of denial – healthy denial.
I believe there is such a thing - healthy denial. It's when you know something is going to happen –you don't avoid it, you just distract yourself with all the good things you find.
My first distraction was with alcohol ink paintings. I was “awed” by the magic of color. “Awe” is healthy! But that lasted only about a month.
And then this distraction morphed into an obsession. My left brain needed to completely immerse itself in something. Organize. OCD here I come. My house needed purging.
I remember when we first got married. After a honeymoon year in Vancouver, we packed up all of our things into and on top of our tiny Datsun and travelled halfway across the country to Winnipeg. I think we looked a little like a tiny ant carrying an over-sized leaf just driving along. I was so proud that we could carry everything we owned. We were free. We were mobile.
Last spring, I wandered through our house that we have lived in for the last seventeen years and realized every room was filled with stuff. I couldn’t even access the book shelves anymore - the work bench in the garage, the guest bed because there was stuff – useless stuff. One day I couldn’t even get into my own study!
I was mortified. All of these years I had fought to be emotionally free – and now I was loaded down, imprisoned with stuff.
So I began to purge. It takes a great deal of fortitude, courage, determination, concentration, organization and pure muscle power to purge.
Now after three months of countless trips to the Brady landfill and numerous trips to recycling bins, (why we needed six jugs of vinegar's, ten rolls of duck tape, and mountains of empty boxes – I will never know.) I can proudly proclaim I have rescued every room.
But it was an ugly-depressing three months.
However there was one sweet moment when I carried up from the darkest corner of our basement boxes labelled "Candace Memories" s into the living room. After Candace’s body was found, I had forced myself to pack up all her things and put them into boxes. I remember crying and crying and crying some more. But it had to be done, I didn’t have the luxury of just leaving everything in place just as she left it because she shared her room with her younger sister …. It wouldn’t be fair to the other.
I cried and cried again when we had moved the from our Kildonan home to our Fort Richmond house, because we were moving into a new place, but we were moving Candace in boxes. Four boxes! That was all that was left of her.
Now almost 33 years later, I was looking at these four boxes again.
When I had started to purge, I had promised myself that I would examine every box…. I was in OCD mode.
I had kleenexes handy.
Yet - when I opened the first box, I didn't feel like crying. I felt an almost eerie calmness. Yes – a peace.
It was a little like reacquainting myself with an old friend. I was over-whelmed with curiosity about this daughter of mine who had left so abruptly 33 years ago.
As I went through the boxes - deliberately one by one – I could feel her again. She was a light-hearted child – easy to be with. She laughed and cried quickly. I found letters that showed her melancholy creative side.
There were letters between her and her friend Heidi.
There was even one rough draft printed in silver penned by Candace that had never been sent.
There were copies of her favorite song, Friend are Fiends Forever.
There were gushy letters – pure teen infatuation.
There was an album of photos she had taken with a camera that her father had given her.
There were rough sketches of drawings of her favorite flowers.
And there were stuffed koala bears and pictures of koala bears. I had completely forgotten about her obsession with koala bears. I was so glad I had kept them.
And then of course there was her lovie and her blankie. It was all there.
She was so fun.
I sorted some of it out and then very carefully and tenderly using rose-colored tissue paper packed it all back again into one bin with wheels on it - a bin that resembled a coffin – almost. So - I buried her again – as I have done many time.
But this time it felt different. I know now that death isn’t final – it is just another kind of reality.
It had been a good visit... a good conversation.
I was fragile but full.
Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds' wings. Jalaluddin Rumi