Today is Holden’s twenty-fifth birthday. There is a small rock sunk deep in my ribcage, my throat is cement and my eyes are overflowing. When that happens I go to my keyboard and let go. I want his name to be spoken, his face to be pictured and his laugh to be heard. I want him here, and because that is not possible, I want him present in whatever way he can be conjured.
I imagine birthdays past. Cupcakes and blue icing on cheeks, water guns soaking hair, laser tag all sweaty and smiling, slip and slide in the backyard, the coveted Complete Calvin and Hobbes Collection; the shouts and laughter. A summer birthday has fewer guests and more outdoor fun. As he got older, new cel phones, clothing, dinners out, a trip to New York, a case of Ichiban noodles and that first legal beer. I recall practical gifts for a burgeoning new adult life. Continue Reading →
Canada Day long weekend is a rough one for me, for our family. There is a building heaviness like the whump of low pressure before a storm. The rain and mercury sky make perfect sense. July 3, 2018 will mark 3 years since Holden left us and continued on his journey. There is a deep ache in the soft-quiet place where he should be.
I’ve been trying to remember Holden in ways that are not associated with photographs. There must be more than these rows of squares. The rewatching of a glance or a touch or a word with no visual reference to hold it. Today I’m envisioning the last time I saw my son. He is standing in the doorway of our kitchen saying something ordinary like ‘see ya later.’ The top of his head nearly reaches the door jam and his smiling cheeks, above the auburn scraggle of a beard, are light pink. I can see his green eyes and hear his deep voice vibrating in the air between us and re-know how grateful I was to have him so close and solid. Continue Reading →
I have no grave to place flowers by. I have no headstone to polish and sweep. I do have a beautiful, smooth, wooden box, made by my husband Cam, that we keep on the same shelf as the vodka. We don’t reach for the vodka often, or the box for that matter. The box contains the burned bones of my son.
And now I also have a sixty-five foot cement wall in a parking lot in East Vancouver covered in glorious red paint, at the centre of which there is a huge and uncanny portrait of my son Holden in black and white, smiling out at the world. He looks truly happy. I hope it’s true. There is no good resting place for your child, but this wall makes sense. If there has to be a symbolic location for Holden to be recognized, well, this is his kind of place.
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