This is 2019 An Abundance of Joy and Suffering

This is 2019
‘He’s gone,’
I message Susie.
‘August 1st, 2019.
the day your father died,’
she writes back.

This is 2019
Sheltering rain
Big Island, Nova Scotia
Inside silver van with
Sister friends and a dog called Ruby.
‘My dad,’ I say passing my phone to the backseat.
A video of Dad shaving.
He is an hour dead.
Syrupy sand between toes
Sticky stench of seaweed
Six-year old Maddy and Ruby
marching, trotting
across shorelines.

This is 2019
Graduates on stage
vibrating Etana’s
I Rise, I Rise.
Maya in a sea shell shaded dress
posing by a fountain in a pool of changing colors.
Across the sea, on a phone
Dad in a wheel chair
‘What’s up kiddo?’
‘Your Grand Daughter
reached another milestone.’
‘Maya,’ he says.

This is 2019
A chapter written while sitting
in a shared waiting room;
cancer ward, 7th floor,
Ottawa General Hospital
‘Too long,’ Dad says.
I carve out sections of the chapter.
A PSW offers to heat up Dad’s blanket;
A doctor enters,
sits lotus position on a foot stool
by the side of a bed lowered.
He speaks gently, loud enough
for what Dad’s eyes can not see.

This is 2019
Butterscotch ice cream and tea
A PSW called Sarah,
‘Papa. Papa. How are you Papa?’
A mother fucker egg bump on Dad’s head
from falling out of bed.
Breeze swirling through windows.
Sun spilling warm patches across floor and bed.
‘Take me to the river and dump me in the fucking water,’
Dad says.
‘I’d rather dump that fucking phone in the river,’ I say.
It rings and rings and nobody comes to help.
He laughs.
That night in my small room I play,
Take me to the River by the Talking Heads
And dance.

This is 2019
‘I’ll come back later Dad.’
‘Much. Much. Much. Much. Much. Much later,’ he says.
I don’t come back.
Instead Maya and I, Little Italy.
Bread, olives, red wine and gelato.
Maya recapping her day,
white water rafting
with Uncle Terry and cousin Brianna
‘I knew it was serious when
helmets and life jackets were passed out,
and Uncle Terry the first to fall out.’

This is 2019
Leaving Dad in full care;
returning home
returning to the work I love;
self and community building.
Youth gather.
Couples gather.
Free listeners gather.
Revolutionary lovers gather.
We gather.
Phone calls from tiny screens;
visible by everyone but Dad
‘How you doing kiddo?’
That mother fucker egg bump still on his head.
‘When you coming?’ He asks.
Three weeks.
Two weeks.
‘One more week dad.’
I whisper in his ear, ‘Dad we here.’
‘Give me a squeeze.’ He says.
‘Oh God not too hard, not too hard.’

This is 2019
Dad’s last time on the outside.
Wheeling out into the evening shine,
‘Are you sure Dad?’
A soft crunch,
‘Keep going Dad?’
I feel his yes in the
swirl of bird song;
the sweetness of mowed grass;
the crack of ball on bat and a whoop of cheers;
‘Keep going Dad?’
A moan of approval.

This is 2019
Cross- legged,
alone by dad’s grave;
yellow mums, sage,
candle and a butter tart;
clouds splitting open,
squirrels sprinting across graveyard,
scampering up trees;
farmland circling;
crisp air inhaled
like on top of a ski hill
nose exposed.
In a whisper
I sing,
And when I rise
Let me rise
Like a bird
wild and free
and when I fall
let me fall
like a leaf
so gracefully…

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