Last night I dreamt about the morning you died. I was back there again, in that hospital room at dawn listening to you struggling for each breath. Once again I lifted my head from your bed and looked out the window over the still lake. I watched the sky turning from gray to pink and the black shape of a seagull gliding high above. The anxiety of that moment came flooding back and I knew what was to come. I wanted to try to change it, to wake you so we could watch the sunrise one last time. I wanted to talk to you the way we once did, about life, love and the challenge of both. I wanted to tell you about everything that has happened over the last five years. When I stood up to walk to the window as I did that morning, I woke up with a start.
So much has happened in the last five years. I’m not sure what to tell you about first. The terrorist attack on the U.S. is one of the worst tragedies that’s happened since your death. It erupted on September 11, 2001 with a number of plane hijackings. Terrorists tried to crash the planes into important landmarks. Thousands were killed in New York when hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center. The twin towers crumbled, the smoke and dust was so thick it turned the sunny morning into night. Papers, accounts, records of all kind floated down softly onto the debris-covered streets. A cloud hung over the city for weeks, business came to a standstill. The attacks brought terrorism into our homes; they made people aware, for a brief time, that life is circumstantial; and that hate and anger can consume.
Since then the U.S. has retaliated, invading Afghanistan and using the terrorist scare to push itself into Iraq.
Here at home, Chrétien is no longer in power and some scandals that occurred during his term have since come to light. They have stirred up a lot of controversy over the past few months, but will soon be forgotten as these sorts of things usually are.
Last summer we had a power shortage and for a few days a crisis put Eastern Canada and some of the eastern states out of power. The outage made Toronto quiet, it shut off all the televisions and people filled the streets; they looked at the stars and could for once see them. Suddenly neighbours were talking and strangers spoke to one another on the street. But the sense of community disappeared almost as quickly as it came.
Do you remember the power dams you designed for Ontario Hydro back in the ’50s? I know you left Hydro when a group of people began pushing for nuclear power. I remember you thought nuclear power so costly that it was foolish even to consider it. Well, the nuclear debt has grown so large that the government is now having to subsidize Ontario Power in order to keep consumer prices down. Of course it can’t last. But there is still a small group of nuclear power supporters who released a report which proclaimed nuclear power to be the best solution to our power crisis. I don’t think the public bought it; however, the worry is that our government will take nuclear as the easiest route, even though it isn’t the most economical. It may bandage over the short-term dilemma, but at what cost?
And now to more intimate things. I have yet to tell you about my husband. His name is Greg. He is strong, thoughtful and reserved. At times he holds his passion bottled up tight inside him. It’s hard to get a tear out of him and I have yet to see him sing from our balcony, at the top of his lungs, but I’m working on it. He was a consultant, which wouldn’t appeal to you or me, but he left that career to find more meaningful things to do with his life. He joined me here at the newspaper and has helped us grow and become profitable. We were married a year and a half ago and bought a huge dump of a house, which Greg has decided to renovate. He’s doing almost everything himself. At times I wish you could see him. He researches everything he does. He taught himself to do the plumbing and wiring, to build walls and lay floors. He’s facing life with his arms wide open, not worried about status or position but focused on creating beauty in the world. Sometimes he asks me what to do about problems that arise with the house and I wish I could pick up the phone and call you. Remember how much I used to call when I renovated my first home? I know you would love Greg as much as I do. I wish you could have met.
The newspaper is thriving and our readership is growing steadily. Our writers are some of the best in the country. I ask them to write on an intimate level, not to preach at the reader but give them some sort of emotion to take away from what they read. Since we are gaining more and more female readers I think this slightly different approach to newspaper content is working. There is still the odd feminist who calls to complain that we don’t provide enough doctrine on feminist issues, but there are so many more women who call to congratulate us that it doesn’t worry me.
At times I think you are here with me, especially when I sit alone writing. I feel like you already know half of what I’ve written and sometimes, when I have an important decision to make I hear your voice in my head suggesting ideas. They say that we live on in our children and I hope that part of you will live on in my children. I want to thank you for teaching me to live out there in the world beyond my doorstep. It’s a beautiful world that hate and anger can tarnish only briefly.
I’ll write again soon.