I kind of knew that once the memorial was all over and all the families returned home it would be like hitting a wall. That memorial night would signify a turning of the screw; she really is gone and she is not coming back. Up to Saturday night, before all the wonderful, touching memorials, there was still a chance this was all some cosmic mistake, some horrid, senseless mistake. Now, forty-eight hours later her bedroom remains dark and empty, her laundry hamper is only filled with my own dirty clothes (our hamper is filled; nothing much is getting done around our house these days), and all her favourite foods are still turning rotten in the fridge. Roni is going to have to learn that neither of us eat apples like a horse.
Roni left her bed for about one hour today; she drove her brother to the airport for his 9 am flight. She did not bother with make-up or even dressing properly. She just pulled some pants over her pyjamas, threw a sweater over top of her sleeping-top and donned some slippers. Anyone that knows Roni knows that she has not left the house without full make-up and dressed to the nines since she was about 12. Roni only asked for two things be brought to the hospital the day Calista was born: her toothbrush and her make-up box.
When I finally arrived home from work tonight I found Roni still in Calista's bed, only semi-conscious. The sleeping shirt of Calista's that she has been using as a security blanket was damp with tears and it was clear she had not moved for nearly 24 hours. I asked if she had even got up to go to the bathroom; she had not, but you don't produce much urine if you do not even get up to take in fluids. It took me another 30 minutes to get her out of bed and thirty more minutes after that to eat a few mouth-fulls of left-over Chinese food. I wonder how long a person can live on chow-mein and sweet n' sour pork. She did have a couple of glasses of chocolate milk, so I guess she is at least getting her calcium.
Roni, I can comfortably say, is in a real nose dive and will likely crash if I cannot turn this plane around. Unfortunately, it means I yet again have to hold it together for everyone else when what I really want to do is howl at the sky and beat on the first SOB that gives me the slightest reason to lose my cool. I am not sure gratuitous violence is all that appropriate right now and I rather doubt if the RCMP would accept the excuse that I am in mourning, but to tell you the truth I am just aching to round off on somebody right now. Anybody.
Whenever I am faced with overwhelming anger, waxing philosophical seems to calm my savage beast. I re-read some of my blog today and I realise that only a masochist could read the entire blog from head to tail. Some of those passages were just so incredibly raw that I could only read short sections before my vision blurred to blindness with the tears. It is telling that I cannot re-read the first few entries; that would be just like reliving those days and I will not do that ever unless it looks like this blog may be publishable as a book.( This blog as a book; that is an idea; it could feed the scholarship fund.) Perhaps I should take a break from the brutal emotional attack and look at the bigger picture of the here and after.
Is there, could there, might there be something more than just this Earthly plane of existence? Losing Calista has made me seriously reconsider that question in a way that I never seriously did before. Truthfully I always considered heaven, hell, re-incarnation, and ghosts something that only belongs in Hollywood. In my reality the Earth is a ball of spinning dirt orbiting the Sun and inhabited by a myriad of living creatures who compete for reproductive supremacy. In my world, once you breed, you become redundant and may live or die without any true consequence to the existence of the universe. The individual in my world is of little consequence; we come, we go and history takes little notice of our passing. Losing Calista, the one person that I valued more than anything including myself, has made me reconsider everything. It just seems so unfair that individual of such unique fabric can pass from this Earth without some contingency plan on Mother Nature's part.
So is there really a heaven where the good live in bliss surrounded by their loved ones and living in comfort? Well, let's all think about this for just a moment. If my daughter travelled to heaven, the only member of her extended family that she even slightly knew was my father. If those two met in heaven they might be able to have an extended conversation about the weather on the first day of eternity, then things would get pretty boring. Then, of course Calista could shmooze with her myriad of distant relatives that she barely knew or never met: my uncle who was a pretty cool dude in his time, my grandmother who was distant at the best of times, my great-aunt who she never met and then all the progressively distant relatives that I never met. Where would this all stop? Perhaps some vaguely simian ancestor from about a million years ago would turn out to be her favourite spiritual ancestor. Maybe that same monkey ancestor would be every body's favourite ancestor and you would have billions of angels all arguing over who gets to play bocci-ball with him next. Don't we all see the problem here: we are all connected somehow and if there is one heaven, then it must be a pretty crowded house by now. That just does not work either logically or philosophically for me.
Then there is the idea of re-incarnation. Now that is a bit more believable, except for the issue of the ever-increasing human population. In the eastern religions there is a thought that a person current incarnation is a reflection of his past life. If that person was a really excellent dog, then he gets to be re-incarnated as a human on the next go-round. If the person was a truly despicable human, he comes back as a lowly mosquito (to presumably get swatted by some Saskatchewan born fisherman). The idea here would be that there is a constant number of souls on the planet, they just cycle through the biological entities. There are two problems here: first would be that by some crooked logic humans of intrinsically more valuable than other species (a human more valuable than a blue whale or an elephant? Really? In what way?). The second problem would be that the ever increasing number of humans infesting Earth would suggest that souls are progressively evolving into more enlightened entities. Oh sure; I can see that. Take for example the murderer that was just brought back to Canada for the horrendous crime of killing his friend, dismembering him and mailing his body parts to all points of the Canadian map. He really evolved from the homicidal swamp alligator of his last incarnation. Then there is the question of where do the enlightened humans go?
Richard Bach wrote the classic "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" back in 1970, at the height of the marijuana and LSD driven hippy revolution. Basically, through a tale of death, re-incarnation and resurrection, he suggests that the evolving soul does not return to this planet as an evolved being but returns to another plane of existence where the enlightened soul finds new challenges to help him reach new levels of reality. Jonathan is a revolutionary bird who chooses not to move on, but to return to his original world and help other beings find enlightenment. Jonathan is a prophet or a messiah. Mr. Bach had a wonderful point of view, but I am pretty sure that he also enjoyed a lot of the golden weed while he typed out his mystical tale. He also had a very good publicist. The whole issue still revolves around the number of souls versus the number of organics (unless a chunk of rock has a soul, then things may even out). What happens when you have a huge, extinction level die off? Where do all the souls get parked then? Limbo? Purgatory?
We could consider the LDS Church solution to the problem: good little souls get to become a messiah or God on their own little planet off in the universe. That solution would be something like a cross between Richard Bach's Seagull Evolution Theory and the Judeo-Christian-Islam Heaven variant. Of course we would have to assume that those planets out there in the galaxy did not already have their own sentient being souls competing for Godhood (and there was not a whole raft of enlightened sentient souls from other Earth-like planets fighting for Godhood too). Then there is the problem of real-estate: there are only so many inhabitable planets out there in the universe and there seems to be an unlimited number of souls floating around. Even if only one soul in twenty qualifies for Godhood, you still run out of planets eventually, and to be truthful, the majority of people I meet are pretty decent. In my book, most of us would qualify for Godhood, though some of us would be lesser Gods (me, I probably would get to be Lord of the Flies and end up with my head on a stick).
How about ghosts? Maybe Calista is out there, floating around trying to finish some business with us before she moves on (presumably to her own little planet in the Delta quadrant where she can be the Goddess of cute shoes). Now there is a truth that I would love to entertain. Maybe my girl is watching me as I type this missive, guiding my fingers to make my prose "prettier" (she likes pretty). On the other hand, where is she now when her mother is shattered? If she would just tottle her butt on over to the house and give her mother a little nudge to get out of bed, feed herself, maybe clean herself up, put on a little make-up and brush her hair, it would make all the difference to her mother's survival. It would not take much; just a pleasant dream where Calista told her to live on and stop worrying, that she would be waiting for her when Roni had lived her full life expectancy. I'm not asking much here. As far as trying to finish things up, well which things might we be referring to? She was only twenty years of age; she left everything unfinished. Her whole damn life was unfinished! The injustice of all this goes way, way beyond the pale.
Dante Alighieri describes, in his opus "Inferno", the nine levels of hell. Dante text was more than just a religious discussion, it was also a political satire of the current Italian-Florentine political landscape. In Dante's hell, the denizens were any number of recognisable members of the current ruling class. (Don't be too impressed; I read the Cole's Notes on the book; if you have ever actually read Italian Renaissance prose you would know the Italians abandoned art at the desk and just tried to kill their audience with boredom). I have referred to losing Calista as a form of hell, and, indeed, it really is. Roni and I feel completely redundant in this world; all we can see ahead of us is years upon years of continued sorrow. We just cannot see how we can walk our way out of this, one step at a time or otherwise. Even economically, if we died now our collective life insurance policies and liquidation of our assets would fund Calista's scholarship program handsomely. We really are redundant. On the other hand, we need not fool ourselves; there are whole levels of hell below us that I cannot even imagine.
Just below us are the parents that lost their children to kidnappers; I have to think this is worse than our situation since we at least know where our girl is, but it would be somewhat mitigated by the ongoing (mostly faulty) hope that the child is alive somewhere out there, fighting their captors to return to their parent's fold. Below that level by many feet would be the hell reserved for parents that had children molested and murdered. I cry at any suggestion that my Calista was aware of her imminent demise for even one moment, how must a parent feel when they know their child was suffering, tortured, violated and and terrified during their last moments. This would be a whole new version of hell and in itself just begs for the death penalty to child molesters. Finally, that last level of hell would be reserved for parents that caused their own child's death either intentionally or through mishap. The infanticide parents usually fix their problem by killing themselves at the time (though there does seem to be the odd few that just kill the kid and smile; those people are the devil incarnate and deserve the same penalty as paedophiles). The parents that made a mistake driving or neglected their child for just a moment (as, truthfully, we all have at one time or the other) have to live with the fact they killed their own blood, their own little piece of heaven on Earth. That would be a very long life indeed.
Certainly things could be worse for Roni and I, but we certainly do have our own version of Dante's Inferno: the hell reserved for parents who lose a child to Divine punishment (the death without any evidence of cause). How do we face this? Right now we are merely standing (or, in Roni's case, laying in the foetal position) like deer in the headlights, letting life wash by us and waiting for the next disaster to happen.