I guess I lost a day yesterday; the title should have read two weeks, four days. Oh well, every day is Groundhog Day without the happy ending anyway. This will be a short post today; maybe tomorrow I will let everyone have a break and talk about the amazing person my Calista was evolving into. Today I want to talk about talisman. Everybody who has lost a child will understand this post and everybody that has not will think I am crazy (or going crazy)
When your child dies you will hold onto everything and anything that holds a bit of them in some faint hope that something of them still lives, somehow, in that object. It may be a favourite piece of clothing, jewelry, a car or something else. At first, every little thing is infinitely important, then as the sheer amount of stuff starts mounting, small things start to lose their importance and you start to focus on just one or two things that become "comfort blankets". For my wife it is the shirts.
On that last Sunday we had with Calista she left her bedroom in a shambles; bed unmade, some dirty laundry on the floor and her used night shirt tossed carelessly upon the bed. Roni had straightened the bedroom up, but she had not changed the sheets or laundered the night shirt. On May 17, after the police and the grief counsellor had left us in the hands of my elder brother Ivor, my wife finally found some solace quietly (my wife is always quiet) sobbing by herself, curled in the foetal position in my daughter's bed. She had that used nightshirt, still faintly smelling of my daughter's perfume and shampoo clutched in both hands, tucked up under her chin. That shirt seemed to capture something of Calista for my wife and it became her comfort blanket; it still is really.
Every night my wife curls up to sleep with that shirt in her hands, unable to sleep without it's soft cotton tucked into her chin. Roni will wake up in the night and panic if she has lost track of that shirt and will not settle until one of us has found it among the bed sheets and returned it to the nape of her neck.
On our first trip to Courtenay to start the horrible task of cleaning out Calista's beloved apartment (her first real place of her own), we found her bed unmade and another night shirt tossed carelessly atop the pillow. My wife carefully bagged that little treasure in much the same way the RCMP had bagged her clothes after her death and brought the shirt home here. The two shirts are now being carefully traded each night so they last longer before her tight grip and constant wash of tears wears them out. Hopefully the shirts will outlast her desperate need of their comfort. They have become talisman for her; small charms that hold the essence of Calista in some small way. They are more than simple keepsakes.
There have been other things that have become unspoken sacred objects. For the first week after Calista's death, we slept in Calista's bed, comforted by her unique room surrounding us. After the second night in that room I told my wife that we should either stop sleeping in that room or change the sheets to fresh sheets immediately. Roni caught my reasoning immediately: our bodies were fouling the essence of Calista left upon those simple cotton sheets (purple, of course). There need not be any specific mention of what I was saying; Roni knew immediately that I could not bear the idea of fouling those sheets with our sweat and tears to the point that they would require laundering. I could not bear to wash away Calista. The next night we slept on top of the bed under winter weight comforters hastily taken out of summer storage. Those purple sheets remain on Calista's bed, waiting for her return. They will probably still be there the day they cart our cold bodies out of this house. They too are talisman.
Its kind of funny that I attach little or no magical properties to her ashes which sit in a beautiful brass urn in our bedroom. I guess I should attach some sacred importance to them, but they are just so much carbon in a jar. Calista lives in brightly painted bedroom decorated with antique Beatles LP albums and modern day posters for bands I don't recognise. Her own art sits on the wall, goofy Polaroid pictures of her friends and her jacking around back in Regina and her sweat jacket with the logo of some European football club hangs on the back of her door. There are silly stuffed giraffes (I had no idea she had a fixation on giraffes) and a tasteless little love-seat that looks like red lips stuffed behind her immense combination bed and dresser arrangement. Calista shoes are hidden everywhere; in boxes, under book shelves, in the closet, and under the dresser. Much of her cheap jewelry sits on the dresser top while her more expensive stuff (mostly bought be me over the years) sits hidden in drawers here and there. The entire room is one big talisman, magically calling for her to come home where mom can love her and dad can protect her.
I have my own talisman: her iPhone that wakes me up every day at 6:10. Each morning it goes off, I hope that if I awake just right and I open my eyes just at the right time, I will catch her spirit just as it was that fateful morning, complaining bitterly that it is too early to get up. That feeling is doubled on Thursdays. Perhaps it will be tripled at the one month mark and multiplied exponentially each anniversary. Lord help me when that iPhone finally dies. But then, I should know by now that everything dies eventually; even a magical talisman.