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thinking of Olivia

In recovery mode, on this serene Sunday during which Hurricane Irene’s bad weather decided, after a gloomy beginning, to pick up and go somewhere else … We had sun this afternoon, and a sweet breeze. I confess that when I came home yesterday, after watching the celebration of Jack’s life on King Street, then talking to my emotional mother and daughter, I sat down in a daze to drink a glass of wine or two, and then, perhaps, three. Or maybe even four. It was that kind of evening, thinking about the end of life, about legacy, children, the future of the country. About love, loneliness, courage, truth. All kinds of deep topics brought to the fore by the events of this week, honed to a rosy glow by red wine.

So a bit of a headache this morning, and a slow day pottering around, some work, some play. As often happens, I was accompanied throughout by the CBC – while I cooked large quantities of food, I listend to Nora Young’s interesting program on technology, Spark, at 1, then a moving Tapestry program on – what else? – death, including a piece about No One Dies Alone, an agency that sends volunteers to the hospital rooms of patients without family or friends to accompany them on their last journey. More tears as I listened, and I thought that yesterday, I’d exhausted my supply.
And then Eleanor Wachtel, interviewing a Norwegian novelist. “Writing is not therapy,” he said sternly, “writing is about opening wounds, not healing them,” before telling us how much of his own life he has explored in his fiction, and how much that has helped him. “Go where the pain is,” he said.
I checked my website statistics today and found an extraordinary thing – usually some 300 to 350 individuals a month visit my site, most returning 3 or 4 times over the span of four weeks. But this week, starting on Tuesday, double the usual numbers, about 60 people a day, have been visiting the site. And just yesterday, 200 people checked in. They must have Googled Lorraine Segato and found my blog post about her marriage to Ilana Landsberg-Lewis a few years ago. Looking at that rising cliff of readers, I felt like the owner of a small, dusty store selling an obscure product which suddenly was in great demand. Read all about it! she shouts.
Tomorrow, presumably, the numbers will drop to their usual level. My dear readers – a fine bunch who, for some reason, want to read way too many words about the life of a sentimental, often weepy writer living in downtown Toronto, who regularly goes to France and eats large quantities of cheese.
Today, I am thinking of Olivia. Until today, she has had so much work to do, organizing events in the public eye. That work is not done; I’m sure there are many who want to visit her, and Jack is to be cremated and scattered in 3 different places. She will do it all with efficiency and grace. But these two were incomparable soul mates, as Jack’s daughter Sarah pointed out so well. What agony, to lose not only the man you love and live with and sleep with, but the man with whom you share almost every moment of your working life. The pain of that loss is unimaginable.
And yet, if anyone can move through and emerge the stronger, it’s Olivia Chow.



2 Responses to “thinking of Olivia”

  1. Lyn says:

    As I watched her stoically moving through the past few days culminating at the funeral I couldn't help but think that she hasn't had time to process and grieve her loss. But there will come a day when the ashes have been scattered, the last thank you note dispatched, and she finds herself alone with her thoughts and the empty space. And then it will hit her full force. She is a model of composure.

  2. beth says:

    Yes, I agree, Lyn. In the paper this morning, already the "Star" was emailing her about the leadership of the party, and she wrote back that she's tired and wants to swim in a lake and sleep. No kidding.

    It will be very hard, but God knows, she has the entire country behind her, and she's a remarkably self-disciplined, energetic person, like her husband. She has a powerful purpose in life, as did he, and I'm sure it'll pull her through.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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