Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Story

Had a friend do a great job explaining to me last week how it is our story that is so important in our lives. When we are gone, our story is the very last thing that remains. It tells the people left behind who we really are.

As some of you know, I am a writer at heart. Always have been. I have dozens of files of my computer with short stories, half-started chapters, and outlines. Whenever I had an evening alone (which was fairly often) I would sit and write.

I was skimming through some of these files the other day and happened upone a scene I had written a few months before Craig's accident. This was from a book I was trying to write - I had a couple chapters done but this particular scene really hit me:

I coax the stiff ruffles of fabric through my fingers, letting the crackle of it break the silence. I let go and the edge of the dress flutters to the floor. My hand slowly travels up the bodice reading each bead like Braille. The neckline is smooth and I let my hand come to rest where my heart kept it warm. Breathing in, I smell the sunny beach, the waves rolling their salty perfume across the dunes, the trace of lilies wrapped in leis around our necks. The agony of it cuts like a knife. I allow myself this moment to wallow, remembering each and every detail with the thirst of a parched throat I have long ignored. The twinkle in his eyes, that warmth meant only for me. Our little secrets. Laughter. How later in the hotel we would collapse into a fit of giggles over the quirky little priest having to stand uphill so as not to appear a small child in the photographs. The drunken tourist congregation, collecting on the beach like a motley crew of misfits. The raspy rendition of “Another One Bites The Dust” that we would recite, rolling with laughter, for six wonderful years to come. The story never failing to bring banana split grins to our faces and those of our friends. At once I am transported back in time and forget for just the briefest of moments what I am here for.

But like all moments of shimmering relief, my oasis evaporates and I am forcibly dragged back to the present. The choosing of a suit. Dark, formal, respectable. Something to be burried in. What would he want? None of this, I think. At 28, a Puma hoodie and jogging pants were his favourite. Comfort. Possibly covered in pizza stains. Our matching toques. The smitten mitten for holding hands on days too cold. I have no strength for this, I think. Nothing left. All last vestiges depleted from my withered body. I can feel the tears of self pity prick the back of my eyes and know it is time to extricate myself from the closet. I fumble blindly, pulling a maroon striped shirt, slacks, and his one suit jacket down with force, thrusting them onto the bed and scurrying to the kitchen for another peanut butter cookie.


This definitely won’t cut it.

I gaze at my cluttered bookstand, with mounds of novels, individually wrapped adventures, piled on top of one another, dangerously close to sliding from their mount and cascading onto the floor. I walk along it, trailing my fingers alone the spines of my favourites. Each one a mini escape. A treasure. All to myself. Spying my favourite red-checkered and worn copy, I slide it down and quickly flip to the page I am looking for. Deluxe Chocolate Cupcakes with Decadent Hazelnut Cream Icing. My own notes squirreled away in the margins. More brown sugar. Half the baking soda. Add peanut butter for more flavour. This should do the trick.

Within the hour my kitchen is a certified disaster. Bowls and batter spattering the counters like the remnants of some destructive tornado cutting a swath through the house. Only 3 of the dozen cupcakes remain, sitting idly on the countertop, a silent accusation of my inability to cope. Cope. They tell me this in therapy with Brenda Glasses. Well. Brenda Glass but surely one wouldn’t go out and seek the largest and ugliest 80s coke-bottle specs with a name like that and not invite the insult. You must learn to cope. All you need to do is cope. Sometimes the best you can hope for is to cope. Brenda’s favourite lines. This is coping, I think. Just not in the way she would approve. I can practically see her sniff and wrinkle her nose in disgust. Surely someone gifted with a body that small could look in the mirror from time to time and attempt to dress in this decade? And she is giving me advice on coping.



When I reread this passage, about her husband dying and trying to pick out the suit and trying on the wedding dress and the 'coping', it sent chills up my spine. Can't believe I was able to capture so much of how this feels before I had any idea.

So I'm using this as my starting point.

Maybe one day I'll finally have a finished book.

My story.

Craig's story.

Our story.

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