I haven’t written anything in a while, and that’s mostly due to the fact that I’ve just come through one of the most difficult periods of my life so far, which culminated in losing my dad. His loss was extremely overwhelming and confusing, as it was a mere few weeks between us all believing him to be perfectly healthy (despite the beer and smokes) and having to let him go. I guess it’s something everyone has to deal with, no one expected it to be so soon.
Although I saw him in Vancouver a few times over the intervening months, the last-best time I had with him was when he met us in Desolation Sound on the Clair De Lune. We were anchored in Teakerne Arm with a whole crew of friends on Mamaku. He, uncle Don and Geoff sailed in and rafted up to us next to the thundering waterfall – Cassel Lake pouring over a cliff into the sea. When it came time for a swim in the lake, Dad noticed some buoyant logs floating in one corner of the lake. “We could all sit on one of those and paddle it like a canoe to the other side” He suggested. So we did. We swam over, climbed aboard and began to manoeuvre the huge log by paddling with our arms and kicking our legs. Mimicking the dragon boats we would often see near his home in the city. Dad was often instigating some playful adventure – following the creek up Mount Elphinstone or jumping in False Creek in downtown Vancouver on a hot day.
During that same trip, we later anchored in a small bay on Cortes Island. This bay happened to be absolutely brimming with oysters. We later found the evidence that it was at some point an oyster farm. While Harry and I hummed and hawed over whether it was a good month to eat oysters, and lamented that we had no internet access to find out if there was red tide, dad was already mid-way through shucking and barbecuing a large bucket – apparently unconcerned. Thankfully it turned out for the best and we all had enough oysters to not want them again for a while. I later saw on the menu of a trendy restaurant in Tofino, “Cortes Island Oysters” – dad was onto it.
A few years ago I gave dad a copy of M. Wylie Blanchet’s The Curve of Time and we had bonded over Blanchet’s stories of she and her children exploring hidden corners of the coast on their small boat in the 1930’s. It’s still one of my favourite books. Last year we had talked about plans to visit Princess Louisa Inlet, the site of one of the most memorable stories in the book. Even though it’s no longer as untouched as it was in Blanchet’s time, it still holds some magic. When it became apparent that this wasn’t going to happen, I felt a strong sense of loss at all the things we should have done together but hadn’t. It seemed like dad and I were just getting to know each other better as adults – having had periods where we didn’t spend much time together. Why hadn’t we already gone to Princess Louisa? Why hadn’t we done more? I thought I had felt so sure that we would do those things together.
The title of Blanchet’s book is a reference to a concept described in a 1927 book by Maurice Maeterlinck, who was attempting to philosophize the impact of the theory of relativity on everyday life (a popular pursuit at the time). In the first chapter of Blanchet’s book she writes,
…the fourth dimension being Time – …doesn’t exist in itself, but is always relative to the person who has the idea of Time…. Standing in the Present, on the highest point of the curve, you can look back and see the Past, or forward and see the Future, all in the same instant. Or, if you stand off to one side of this curve, as I am doing, your eye wanders from one to the other without any distinction.
I have a strong sensation at times, that everything along that curve behind us, is still as much a part of the universe as it ever was, even though we’re not presently experiencing it. Something akin to a familiar but now far-away place. I am comforted knowing absolutely that it is still there and real, even if I can’t be there physically.