Tomorrow or the next day I will be able to talk about my Calista again. By then the jagged edge will be a bit duller, I hope. It should be since I have been sawing away at my heart with the razor edge of that sorrow for a few days now. The post-memorial blues are ruling at my house; Roni is a bit snappy these days as she is realising that we, us two, are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes our loss. I want to share my daughter with the world, let everyone know how great she was and spread her presence across the planet; Roni wants to fold her arms around Calista's memory and hold her close to her heart, fearful that parting with even one small part of her is some sort of abandonment. It has made for a few tense moments around the house. Luckily both of us tend to be passive aggressive and avoid direct conflict like a gorilla avoids open water.
In the worst of times, it is amazing where support can come from and where it fails. I now realise that there are people I never cared much for that are really quite wonderful, while others that I thought were friends that are strangely silent. Hard times bring out ones true character.
Possibly the most touching monologue at Calista's memorial was that of her tattoo artist. Yes, my daughter had her own tattoo artist. Van is a tall, slim, bearded fellow that would look very appropriate astride a heavily-chromed Harley in full leathers. He appeared at the memorial just a little late, but that was just fine by me. He came to pay his respects and that is what matters. Van had probably had a bit of a trying day since my extended family and friends had filled his roster with memorial tattoos. The overwhelmed tattoo artist had never done that many tattoos in honour of one person in a single day. Van was an emotional basket case throughout most of the memorial statements, but then, out of the blue, he stepped up to the plate and swung a home run. Van described how Calista had injected herself into his tattoo shop as an aspiring photography student trying to fill her portfolio. Over several days and many hours she picked up the rhythm and feel of the shop, getting some truly memorable images that I must admit I am proud to call my daughter's work.
Calista was not just a quiet observer, she really got to know her subject, interviewing Van in depth about how he got into tattoo artistry and why he loved it. Van kind of got the feeling that Calista was toying with the idea of becoming a part-time tattoo artist (now that would have knocked old dad on his ass for sure).
Van touched the heart strings of everybody. Here is this rugged-looking tattoo artist and he is crying hard, desperately trying to describe his great sense of loss at Calista's passing. He described her as a gentle, artistic soul who seemed to be truly interested in him and his art. There was no doubt that he saw her for who she really was, something that people who had known her for years did not recognise. Thank you Van for really getting to know my girl.
I received a condolence card from an old colleague from Regina. In all my years in Regina I never had much to do with this veterinarian; she practised in the north end of the city, I was in the south end and never the twain shall meet. We had a cordial relationship, but there was really not much interaction. That wonderful colleague sent a very nice card today and made a donation to my daughter's scholarship. I compare that to other much closer friends, people who knew Calista very well, who have barely acknowledged her death. One thing I have learnt though is that people are funny about death and loss.
I don't actually attach value to how people have reacted to my daughter's passing. Everybody reacts to tragedies like this completely differently. Some people dive right into the middle of the disaster, taking control and trying to actively help. Other people merely ask what they can do to help, but then come through and gladly live up to their promise. There are a very few people that make the same offer, but only pay lip service to that offer, and a limited few that just go silent, perhaps hoping that the death will just go away. Those few people that just turn their backs are not doing anything wrong; they are just acting like a deer caught in the head-lights. Those people may care very much about you, your loss and the deceased, but they just cannot face the tragedy...so they don't.
Sometimes people want to help but they can't simply because a good opportunity as not revealed itself. One of our neighbours here at the clinic has offered numerous times to give my wife and I any help we need. Maureen has clearly been just aching to step up and save us, but she had just not found anything that she can do. Maureen finally found something she could do for me yesterday.
My air compressor for my dental unit broke down in the middle of a procedure yesterday. I was really angry about it; we had used the compressor probably less than ten times altogether and I had only bought it two months ago. I trotted off to Canadian Tire with the compressor and receipt in hand, expecting them just to honour the return policy and give me a replacement. What they had me do was sit in line for twenty minutes while they checked and re-checked their protocol. The teller then sent me up to some rough looking repair and rental shop squatting near the airport to sit for another ten minutes while the guy behind the desk dithered over how long it was going to take to repair it if he could get parts ("Unlikely" he growled). No lunch for me yesterday and by the time I returned to the clinic I was ready to kill the first person who gave me any grief. In steps Maureen.
As I exited my car, Maureen scurried, grabbed the packages I was juggling and asked how I was. I grouched about my lunch hour being flushed down the toilette as I bounced around town dealing with the compressor. Maureen was shocked that Canadian Tire had not just replaced the compressor rather than fooling with repairs and the like. I replied I kind of thought that was what should have happened (I mean, just how good can a machine be if it breaks down after only ten uses). Without one word from me Maureen phoned the owner/ manager of the local Canadian Tire on my behalf and, lo and behold, a new compressor was delivered within an hour. People can be so wonderful sometimes. Thanks Maureen.
I have started to re-think my philosophical comments the other day, and as I did contemplate them, I realised I may have found an answer to my question "There must be more". There might be an infinity of more.
Rob Bryanton, a musician from Regina, wrote an amazing book "Imagining the Tenth Dimension". His book is matched by a truly over-the-top web site of the same name. "Imagining the Tenth Dimension" is a simplified discussion of theoretical physic's "String Theory" and how it leads to the possibility of a ten dimensional universe. I am not sure I understand much of the book; Rob obviously is an intellectual giant, but I got some of the important points down pat. According to string theory, there are an infinite number of possible universes co-existing with our reality. Different time-lines, different Earths, different Solar systems and whole different Universes. There are "Earths" that are practically identical to this Earth and planets that inhabit the same space/ time co-ordinates but are so different from this Earth that they are not truly Earth. There are Earths where the dinosaurs still rule and Earths where the rats developed into the dominant sentient being rather than a primate. Most importantly there is some Earth out there practically identical to our Earth but differing in one most important factor: Calista is still alive in that Earth. Perhaps she is lost to this world, but in that other world some Bryce gets to see his girl fully bloom. In that world there will be a full career, a special someone and hopefully little rug-rats that can make that Bryce feel young again.
That solution to my break in faith may seem a little lame, but certainly there is all sorts of science to back it. If renowned scientists can have some faith that a "multiverse" is a real possibility (probability?) then I too can have some faith. Now, of course, this little leap of faith does nothing for me personally unless somebody can invent a machine that allows me to make the quantum jump from this dimension to the appropriate alternative universe, but it does give me something to paint on my wounds when I am ready to have faith in the fairness of the world again. Unfortunately if I ever do make that quantum jump, I will have to do my observations of "other Calista" from a distance, since presumably there will be an "other Bryce" who will be her real father. My Calista is indeed gone.
How the hell can I learn to live with that. Really.