War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

seeing the dead

twice over the past weeks I have seen the dead. it is, I’m told, quite a common thing.

the first was two weeks ago. walking down a street. an August afternoon. fresh as only August on the Pacific can be, and beautiful, with that milky sunlight of late summer.

across the road I saw Jimmie. he wore a red shirt. a straw hat. I called out to him but he couldn’t hear me over the traffic. I went to cross the road, waited for the pedestrian light to change, tried to run and stopped mid-road when I realized Jimmy had been dead two years.

that night Jimmy’s beloved called to catch up on things. I told her I saw Jimmy that afternoon. how strange it was. Pat said to me, “today’s the anniversary of his death”. I had no idea.

then a few days ago I was somewhere. can’t even remember where. maybe at my “office”, probably, the little funky coffee bar, Caffe Fantastico and I saw Lt. Andrew Nuttall. I’m sure I did. that tall, gorgeous man with the big, big smile and the laugh. I sat back and watched him. walk away. I didn’t call out his name. we weren’t friends. only spent a little time together. though I certainly watched him at CUBs. but who wouldn’t?

I hear from next-of-kin. fairly regularly. mothers. they need to gather the threads of their child’s life. they need to weave it. get the whole fabric from beginning to end. they need to experience him from all sides. the sides she missed while he was away from her.

a week ago I had a call from a mother. I told her I remembered her son so well (and I did). spent hours with him. got to mother him a bit. pester him. pepper him with questions. laugh. her son was a kind, kind soul. a helper. this summer I couraged up to watch the DVD she had his best friend give me. the DVD of photos of him from baby to man. it was the short grainy black and white film clip of him playing hockey inside a barn that really stung.

when I asked the soldier’s mother if she wanted to hear my last memory of him she said yes. it was in that BAT I shared with the Angel of the FOBs. we’d been “rocketed” and soldier had stepped in to do grunt work. good naturedly. I see him sitting on a carton, head bent over to write something, maybe a “to do” list, maybe he was checking in someone’s laundry, or keeping track of supplies. the light was sweet, honey-coloured, the sunlight of his last spring.


1 Comment (Closed)

Nancy Wilson

Knowing, seeing, the soul has left the body, I find, physically takes my living breath away . What’s that poem? “Fond memory brings the light of the days around me..”

Sep 09 2010 · 16:04

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled seeing the dead. It was posted here on September 09, 2010.

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