My daughters and I know a thing or two about losing everything. Ten years ago, when I awoke from a relationship that was killing me, they also awoke from its grip with all of their life possessions gone. At the time, I was too numb and tired and overwhelmed to truly realize the impact of their loss but last night, as my youngest daughter and I sat and chatted over dinner at our favourite restaurant, we talked about those losses back then, and how they were affecting our state of being in the here and now.
It’s not that there’s anger or resentment floating amidst her feelings today. But there is sadness, and there is the shared knowing of what it feels like to lose the things you hold so dear, the little, and the large, things that told the story of your life.
For my youngest daughter, one of those things is an oversized stuffed polar bear she received one year from Santa. He went everywhere with her. Even airplanes. And in the debacle that was our lives back then, he got lost. And she thinks of him still today.
As we sat and chatted over dinner, she shared how she felt helping strangers clear out their homes after the flood waters had receded. There was no time to carefully pick through the debris. It all had to be jettisoned. It all had to go. But for her, the memories of standing with her sister in a warehouse where all our belongings had been stored and were now to be auctioned off because the bill for their storage had never been paid were real and raw in the moment of helping another family in the disaster.
At the time of their personal disaster I was far away. The man who had promised to love me and never hurt me and then proceeded to deceive, lie and manipulate had been arrested and was in jail and I was still on the coast, still too broken to return and too afraid. The possibility of his getting out on bail was real and my fear of what would happen if he did far too real as well.
They knew I was alive. We had been in contact but they were still too angry and hurt and confused and lost for me to be of any help to them in my broken state. I had contacted the management of the warehouse where our belongings had been stored when everything had fallen apart and discovered that I owed thousands of dollars I did not have because the bill had never been paid.
The woman who owned the storage company, Lynn, was very kind and offered to let my daughters come in to retrieve their personal belongings. And so one sunny day in June they arrived in the warehouse with their father to see our entire lives piled in a corner. Couches. Chairs. Tables. Rugs. Lamps. The antique armoires my youngest daughter believed was haunted by ‘Grace’ a woman who lived inside one of its secret drawers who liked to whisper stories of the things the armoires had once treasured in its confines. Boxes upon boxes piled with all our dishes and cups and pots and pans. With their father keeping watch and in their teenage minds, angry and impatient to get it over with, the girls quickly rifled through the boxes that were clearly marked “Alexis and Liseanne” and pulled out what they could.
It must have been heart-breaking, terrifying and traumatizing. I know it was.
Last night, as Liseanne and I spoke of those events and their link to now, I watched the sadness flit across her face and shared with her how those days have been stirring in me this past week too.
And we chatted some more and the sadness eased and in the end, we both agreed, being alone in the city for her this weekend is not where she needs to be. C.C. and I are flying to Toronto tonight to go to his niece’s wedding. And then, we’re driving up to Barry’s Bay to spend the week at the cottage of our dear friends U & A. The trip was planned long before the waters flooded our city and I must admit, I am relieved to be going away.
Liseanne is still evacuated, her return date to her apartment unknown. A sewer pipe burst after they’d pumped out the underground parkade of her building and currently the building is unfit for human habitation. The highway west into the mountains where she had planned to go camping with friends is down to one lane and traffic is a big, big issue. And so, in the midst of sharing a meal and our conversation we both agreed, going to see her sister in Vancouver is a good idea for the weekend.
A quick phone call to Alexis, an airline search online using her phone, and she is now booked to fly out late this afternoon. Alexis and her boyfriend, J, are picking her up and whisking her to the yacht club where J’s mother and step dad will be waiting to sail them away for three days in the sun.
I am relieved. Once upon a time my daughters lost everything that told the story of their young lives. We’ve healed and grown since those days, but this week, amidst the sadness of so many losses, we have all been awash in the sorrow of those days long ago. She’s volunteered all week. Helped out where ever she could and for the next few days, she needs to bask in the love of her sister, laugh and swim and lie about in the sun and let the gentle ocean breeze caress her skin and the lull of the boat ease her heartache.
My daughters will be together this weekend sharing in the one thing that can never be lost. Their love for eachother. I am grateful.