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Purgatory - Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019
Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014 @ 2:33 pm
I'm standing in the lobby of the Pan Pacific, waiting for Daniel to arrive. A pre-Christmas date, looking at lights, trees, and then later drinks at a beachside bar. I'm warm and loose from drinking spiked eggnog at work. The city is swirling and sparkling, a little rowdy, the last Friday before Christmas.
My phone rings. It's my mother. Terrible timing, as usual. I answer, hoping for a quick business conversation about Christmas gift coordination.
The lobby is large and grand, marble flooring and soaring ceilings. I'm standing in the middle of it, remembering all of the times that I've stood right here. As a maid of honour for rainy day wedding photos. Passing through on my lunch break when I worked at the cruise ship terminal. With my Dad, when I visited his office at the Port.
Are you on Facebook?she says.
I don't know what she's getting at.
Yes. No. Sometimes. I sometimes miss things.
Have you talked with Gord lately?
We ran into some friends last night at the Red Lion and they said he's in a hospice. Brain cancer.
Gord. Gord. My first boyfriend, my first kiss. An innocent thing, our short relationship but everlasting friendship.
We used to go rock climbing. I was lean and determined then. He'd belay me to just before my feet touched and leave me dangling, spinning from the twist on the ropes, and he'd pull me towards him and kiss me. My hands dusty with chalk, the clanging of carabiners against the wall.
Another time, we were climbing outdoors, on the granite cliffs of Lighthouse Park. It was a lazy Saturday afternoon, and after climbing we slipped like seals into the ocean, the mussels cutting up my knees and the sun glancing off the waves.
One time, out late in the dark, standing in a little neighbourhood park after being at a party, he pulled me close to him, and told me that I was perfect. Nobody had ever said anything like that to me before. My parents never told me that I was beautiful (still haven't...), and it was a life changing moment. Realizing that I had value, at least to him. That despite my flaws he saw me as perfect.
Gord. Running my hand across his closely cut red hair. Gord. Climbing the Lions together, years later, when he was about to propose to his wife. Running into his parents in the village. Him taking me to my first real party, one with cool kids and booze, showing me that all I had to do was get out there. Feeling so safe beside him, like a fledgling cygnet, and people coming up to talk with me as if I existed and asking why I never came to parties before. Gord. Walking hand-in-hand to a party in the woods up behind the dam. Feeling alive. With Gord, I became alive.
And now Gord is moving away from alive.
I don't kid myself that I matter to him. That I meant as much to his life as he to mine. I won't see him, this I know. His life exists without me.
The last time that I saw him, we stood together on a mountain peak and looked down over the city in which we grew up. And that is exactly how I will remember him.