An Unjust Jab In the Gallbladder

Aidan and I went out last night. I had been stuck in the house for the previous six days with a mild but dispiriting flu, and it was a relief to be outside in new air.

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It felt like a sad duty for me, though. We went to see Long Time Running, a documentary about The Tragically Hip's last tour during the summer of 2016. I went to their show in Edmonton that July, and all the thousands of us in the arena knew we were saying goodbye to Gord Downie. He was thinner, he struggled for lyrics with the help of several teleprompters, his voice nearly gave out while he growled through lyrics. None of us cared that it lacked perfection. He was vulnerable and open and completely present. He was Gord, and we felt blessed to be given this time with him.

The documentary, showing now after he's already died, feels too hopeful. It behaves as though there is still time, and so sitting in a dark theatre grieving his death while people on screen look forward to more time with him makes his now missing voice so much more thoroughly felt.

A man behind us sat and wept alone. He swiped at tears with the heels of his palms while pulling at the shoulders of his coat.

We crossed a couple of streets through new thick snow to meet up for drinks with some artists leaving the gallery above the theatre. Even in my coat I felt exposed while we walked alone to the hotel. Cold shocked my cheeks, the sky was a dank purple, and sodium vapour streetlights pulled out every aged pock we carried. I felt like I'd been boiled and left out damp, wash-weathered and hung on the line.

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Every year you are older there is another person you knew who either died or was given a dire prognosis at your age. You open a photo album, and a relative you always thought of as aged suddenly looks back at you fresh and still a bit tender. A drop of bile jets up from an unjust jab in the gallbladder. Huh, you think.

I found myself hoping we'd keep a little longer, Aidan and I, a few good decades at least, as though we're a pair of fine cheeses that must be carefully kept in their appropriate wrappers.


I am publishing a post every day in November for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month).