Treachery and Beauty

IMG_0142My Uncle, like a father to me, got bad test results pointing to a cancer spread, likely fatal. I can’t even go there. There are just some people you cannot lose. Well, it turns out there was a mix up with the test results. They’re wrong. They’re not his. He’s fine. He was giddy on the phone! We are flooded with relief. How can that be?

Within a few hours I open up my messages and a dear friend posts a picture of her handsome partner of – what – three decades? He’s leaping barefoot and brown legged along some sunny beach, totally carefree. She writes to say he has unexpectedly died. How can that be?

I stop in to see Anita. She knew him. “The widows. The widows. All the widows.” says my friend, the widow.

I take Nora to see Les Miserables, starring Anita’s son as Gavroche. I say, “this is a very sad story, Nora, but very beautiful all the same.” She watches the whole show on the edge of her seat. When little Cosette comes out on stage and sings, Nora gasps. When little Cosette is banished to draw water in the woods, Nora gasps again.

Anita’s son is the spitting image of his father. And like his Dad, and his mother, he is entirely committed to his character, entirely connected to the emotional life of the story, and he allows his energy into the very tips of his fingers and it shoots down through the very ends of his toes. He’s twelve. He sang, he swung from rafters, he died a noble convincing death. Not to take anything away from his own soulful uniqueness, but my God, it’s his father come back to life again. Nora leans over and whispers, “Aha, Momma, he made you cry!”

In the morning we drive to my Mom’s in the mountains. I spend a few days with my family: precious rare when all three of us siblings are together, we live in three different provinces. My little Mom outdoes herself again. Turning little corners of the home into unexpectedly moments of beauty.

IMG_0069Today, I drive back to Vancouver on the Coquihalla, my eight year old trustingly asleep in the back seat. Asshole snowmobilers with their beefy trucks and twin Ski-doos blow past me, splattering slush all over my windshield as my little sturdy Mini Cooper (“Mini the Blue”) hugs the curve of a cliff. I am stiff and blinky, cocksure, scaling Shylocks’ steep incline. I’m a prairie girl, I know how to gently pump my breaks, I know how to wait for a grip while hydroplaning, I know how to breathe deeply through those half seconds where it is possible that truck might fishtail and send us sailing off the side of a cliff and plummet two hundred feet down to our icy death. I picture my daughter flung and impaled on a pine. It could happen.

Beauty and treachery.

I hate that drive, I love that drive. It’s the real thing. Traffic controlled residential streets with stops and yields and cheery greens are a big fat lie.

I arrive home from the Coquihalla grateful to still be alive.


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    1. Lucia Frangione


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