Remember how annoyed you would get at all the water that constantly leaked out of the girls’ shower onto the bathroom floor? Week after week, month after month, year after year you asked the girls to please be careful to not let the water drip on the floor while they showered. Sometimes you yelled about it. You finally went out and bought that little plastic thing that sat on the side of the tub in an effort to keep the water in. But teens being teens they didn’t pay too much attention to your request, and now exactly what you said would happen has indeed happened. The bathroom floor is squishy and water logged and clearly in need of repair. Except I can’t do that myself.
However, it just so happened that when Raegan discovered the squishy floor Lisa and Murray were in town, so I didn’t need to have another of the massive meltdowns that come so easily since you died. Murray pulled back the floor, took off some baseboards and dried it all out. Then he installed glass shower doors on the tub and took down the stupid shower curtain that never stayed in place. We are now left with a shower that does not leak. Thank God for Murray.
Do you know what I was thinking while Murray took on that not-so-small job for me? I was thinking that it was my lucky day 24 years ago when I landed up in the same troop as him in Regina. I was thinking how it was my lucky day not so long afterwards when I heard Lisa’s voice over the radio, dispatching me to calls in Sechelt. I was thinking how strange life is that the two of them eventually met, and then years later how they met up again and started a life together. I was thinking about how unpredictable life is. I was thinking about the fact that 20 years ago you and I never could have possibly imagined that all these years later Lisa would be happily in love with my troopmate, you would be dead, and they would be repairing our house.
Oh yes Ben, they did so much more then the glass doors. Murray cleaned the gutters, they hung curtain rods, they patched the holes in the walls, they moved our fridge, and Lisa fixed both the gates so they actually close now, and even stay closed. (Remember how many times I asked you to fix those gates? I was pissed when you died without fixing them, but I forgive you now because I’m suspicious that you may have had a hand in directing Murray and Lisa to me at the right time.)
Do you want to know what else I thought about? I thought about all the years you tried to stop water from leaking out of the bathtub, and how you will never get to see those glass shower doors that finally stopped the leak. I thought about how you will never see the new fridge I had to get because the old one is half dead with broken seals that apparently cost close to $400 and must be ordered out of province. You will never see the new dishwasher that replaced ours when the door of the old one kept breaking and you weren’t here to fix it. You will never see the finished rec room. You will never see your guitars on display in our bedroom. You will never get to park your truck in the garage I cleaned out, or see the empty space where the tree used to be in the back yard. (And speaking of trees, Murray says that damn tree in the front garden needs to come down because it’s too close to the house and all the leaves fall in the gutters and clog them up. And by the way, Murray fixed the leak in the gutter too. The one you never quite got around to doing, but I’m over that now since it’s fixed.)
Today I had a coffee with Al Tranminh. I think I have only seen him twice since we were in training together. The last time was right before you got sick. I don’t know how or when he found out you were sick, or if he even knew anything about what was going on before reading the email announcement in January. He was at your funeral though. Today he sat with me for pretty close to an hour while I talked about you. I told him how I missed you. I told him how I couldn’t believe that five minutes ago we were all in training together and now you are dead.
D-E-A-D. I try not to say “gone.” When I say “gone” it tricks me into thinking you might come back. So I say dead. Dead. Dead. You would say “dead” too, because you always called a spade a spade. Anyway, I have barely seen Al over the last quarter century but today he sat with me and listened, and I felt like no time at all had gone by. He asked me questions. And I cried again right in the cafeteria but I loved that he asked me about our last year. He told me he remembered you as big and strong, and I told him you remained that way for so long. I told him how badly you wanted to live, and how terrible I feel that you didn’t.
Today I also ran right into Mike Procyk at the elevator, and immediately thought about the last time you were able to make it into work and how the three of us had a conversation together beside Tim Horton’s. Did you know he was at your funeral too? I didn’t know that until I watched the video … or maybe I did at the time but I had forgotten. And since today seemed to be the day for running into the oldest of our old friends, I also ran into Craig McKenzie. Incase you didn’t know, he was at your funeral too, and I do remember him being there. I love running into people who have known you for almost as long as me. People who remember The Titan in the early days, back when we were young. Before kids, before life, before cancer with a small “c” and before death.
I am off now to take the dog you never met to puppy class. Marley. Named after Bob Marley, which you would love. I actually wanted to call him “Ben” so that I could call “Beeeennnnn” and my call would be answered. The kids vetoed that idea. Marley was the next best name.
One more thing … I love you dearly but today was a rough one and so right now I am feeling pretty angry at you for dying. You promised me you would not die until after me so I never, ever worried about your health. Not until the day you cried “I have cancer” anyway. Never before that day. So I’m feeling a little let down. Just saying.