Monday, August 22, 2011

RIP Jack Layton, and this business of grief

Jack Layton, NDP leader and leader of the official opposition in Canada died of cancer this morning. He stepped down as leader a month ago to focus on his cancer battle, but anyone who has watched someone fight cancer were shocked and scared for him. Cancer sucks. I know as  writer that's not particularly eloquent or profound, but it sums it up. Cancer sucks.

I never met the man. I wish I had. He always struck me as a man of integrity, honesty and moral righteousness, but in a good way. Friends of mine who did know him attest to those qualities. He cared passionately for people who did not have a voice. He cared passionately for the homeless, the poverty stricken and people other people forgot about or didn't care about. I was comforted by the fact that ordinary Canadians would have a fierce fighter in the House of Commons to represent our interests. The mere fact that Mr. Layton chose to write a letter to Canadians, in effect to say goodbye, shows me the measure of the man. I also think he would have been a grand person to have a conversation with.

 I think this is hitting me particularly hard today because I'm already very emotional. One year ago today, I was sitting waiting for the news that my brother of my heart, Murray, had lost his battle with Hep C. Like Mr. Layton, Murray chose to put others ahead of his health, in his case, taking care of his darling boy Allie. By the time Murray sought medical attention, it was too late.

Grieving has no time frame.  Just when you think you've bested it, something will happen-you find a picture, or hear a song or return to a special place, and grief rushes in full force and overwhelms. There is no right or wrong. There is only grief, and how ever long it takes. Today is a day I feel sad and fragile. It's okay. It shows I care, I loved and was loved.

RIP Mr. Layton. Thank you for your service, your dedication and your example. Murray, I miss you. I keep expecting to hear your gravelly voice on the phone and I still can't believe that won't happen again even though it's been a year. Be at peace.

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