Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Six Weeks, Six Days: The Ever after

Almost seven weeks, not quite two months into  the "ever after" and I sure wish I could tell everyone that reads this that there is some completion to this record of pain.  Modern society likes to call it closure and every good story has some sense of closure, doesn't it? The problem is that this is not a story; it's real life. Like all of Hemingway's great novels, no matter how well I tell the tale, there is never going to be a conclusion until my own end.

And there is the rub; I keep on looking for an ending to this tunnel of horrors and I should know better. There is never going to be an ending because life is messy and always has loose ends left untied.  On the other hand, there are a few things that I should review that might give some of my readers hope. I, personally, have no hope, just expectations.

I do have some projects on the go, some of which are really working out well, while others are stalling. Other people involved in this little saga have their parts to play out, and I can only hope that they will finally find the answers we all need before we can move on.

The coroner still is chipping away at the case, hoping against all odds to find a cause of death. That is becoming akin to the pot of gold at the illusive end of the rainbow. If her cause of death was not found on gross pathology during the autopsy, it is unlikely to be anything easy like an aneurysm, choking, meningitis or heart-attack.  All those common causes of sudden death are pretty evident on post-mortem examination. The coroner already looked at alcohol toxicity;  but with a blood alcohol level of 0.03 that is an easy rule-out. She is now going back to the toxicology and looking closely for any detectable levels of any of the common toxic drugs that float around young adult parties these days.  Now the police know that the bar-b-cue was far from a wild party, but predators lurk at quiet watering holes sometimes too.  Those results are still outstanding.

One thing that is becoming a problem for me is that the young man who was with my girl at the very end is our only source of information of what really happened during those last few hours. I want to trust everyone who tells me that he is a stand-up guy and I truly believe the police did a good job of interrogation before they released him. The issue I have is that the one person who could tell me about Calista's last moments on Earth has never taken one effort to communicate in any meaningful way to either Roni or me and has now apparently left the province for greener pastures.  I have to wonder about a young man who is only qualified as a farm worker, who was working full time at a farm in his home town in the busiest time of year for farmers, who suddenly decides to leave home and work "drilling holes" (presumably in the oil fields of Alberta and Saskatchewan) less than two weeks after he is involved in a tragic death. Perhaps understandable for some, but for this father, it does nothing to settle the questions in my mind.  Even a simple e-mail giving me the details of his side of the situation would have been far better than silence and a quick departure.

I hope that the completed coroner's report and a closed police file will give both Roni and I some closure so we can move on.

The memorial scholarship through the North Island College Foundation (Courtenay BC: that is a shameless plug) looks like it is going to fly well. The college has been wonderful, the establishment of the fund has been seamless, and between my own resources, Calista's surprisingly large estate, and a generous flow of donations from friends and family, it looks like the scholarship fund will be self sufficient in a very short few years. It may even grow into something very substantial that will help their photography program thrive into the future. If one good thing can come of this, then there can be some degree of closure for Roni and I. Of course, I dream big, so maybe my expectations and my reality are vastly different; the scholarship will probably just be sufficient in the end.

I still want to establish a photography contest in her memory.  Through the years, as Calista submitted pictures to various different contests, I learnt a few things about the photography contests. The majority of the contests are sponsored by one magazine or the other, and all of them have either cash or equipment as prizes.  I believe most of the equipment is donated in exchange for advertising space in the magazine.  All of the contests have very similar categories and rules: landscape, lifestyle (action shots), portrait and art. They all seem to limit computerised manipulation and they have professional and amateur categories.  I probably missed all sorts of details there, but you have the gist of it. I wanted to go in a unique direction altogether as an homage to Calista.  Calista was enamoured with advertising photography; she liked the idea of creating a photograph that was not just visually appealing, but actually "sold" it's subject.  Now I'm not sure at all where this came from, but that was what Calista loved, so I want the show to honour her.  For her contest my concept would be that the categories would all be advertising appropriate photography: tourism landscape, modelling portraiture, product advertising still-life and real-estate advertisement architecture.  Take off the limitations of photo-manipulation and just make the goal of the contest to create a marketable product ready for public advertising display.  I also want the contest to be about promoting young aspiring professional photographers rather than well meaning hobbyists.  Perhaps I will be proved wrong on this, but since the program at North Island College was all about producing professional photographers rather than artists, I would like to make this fly. 

Right now, despite numerous letters written, stamped and mailed, I have had only a very limited response. Many well-wishers and encouragement, but nobody has actually stepped up to the gangplank and boarded my crazy pirate ship.  I just have to remind myself that it is never about how many times you fall down, its all about how many times you get back up again.

Boomer, Calista's favourite instructor (though Shawn was right up there in popularity), had an interesting comment to me the other day: "Pay it Forward".  The term "pay it forward" refers to a movie that came out perhaps ten years ago. The concept of the movie was that a little boy convinced the world that we should all do good deeds for each other and by doing so see a greater result in the end.  Good deeds creates good karma and it all comes back home eventually. Specifically we were discussing all of Calista's photography equipment.

Over the last year Calista had accumulated a substantial amount of pretty expensive equipment. I do not have a faint clue what most of the toys do; even her new camera, the Canon 7D is pretty much a mystery to me (and I bought the darn thing for her just in March; she barely got the packing dust off the camera before she died).  Another man might store the equipment away as some sort of museum piece keepsake, but that would be such a bloody waste.  That equipment could help spring-board the career of some young photographer to fulfil some of the potential that we all lost when Calista died.  Boomer and I discussed potential beneficiaries of the equipment and I have a pretty good idea how I should handle this, but I will sit on the idea for the time being until emotions are not so raw.  Boomer referred to the dispersal of the equipment as "paying the debt forward"; perhaps he is right, but I see it as trying to dig some treasure out of the bottom of a very deep, partially filled out-house pit.  Finding good in all of this will be a real challenge.

I even had this idea that I would eventually publish this Blog as a book. On the other hand,  I have found the bravery to read some of my early entries here; they were pretty raw really, the spelling and diction are deplorable, and I am not sure if they really are reading material. I would be nice to generate some income (though profitable publishing is so rare that it is practically an oxymoron) and use that income to fund both the scholarship and the photo contest.  Furthermore, I would need to find some conclusion or sense of closure to the story; books that end with "and everyone just continued on living this way for the rest of their life" are just not all that enjoyable. And that leads me to the conclusion for today.

I believe everyone, my family, my friends and perhaps even myself, expects there to be some sense of "conclusion" here.  Well, guess what? As I said at the beginning today, this is real life and there is no end to this black tunnel.  Roni and I are not going to "get better" or "get past this"; we will just get far better at covering up so those around us do not feel permanently uncomfortable. We will learn to smile when it is appropriate to smile, laugh when everyone else laughs, and act like we feel just like everyone else. We won't, we can't. Its just not going to happen. There is a great gaping wound in our souls that is not going to heal.  Only other member's of the Club of the Damned can explain this and we can only do it within the club; people who have not lost children cannot possibly understand. Furthermore, I pray that none of you "non-members" out there ever learn the secret rites of membership because the fee is a higher price than anyone should pay.

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