Sunday, 26 August 2012

Three Months, one week: "Her Favourite Things"

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don't feel so bad

"My Favourite Things", "The Sound of Music

Roni and I are slipping a wee bit these last two weeks.  I guess the silence of the house is getting to us after all.  I have apparently lost my ability to talk about anything more meaningful than the weather, and that conversation is usually short and to the point. Roni never was much for talking and now I am sure there are church mouses more verbose than she is right now. Both of us, for some bizarre reason, have forgotten that Calista is dead. We both make slips constantly, and then it all comes back like one of those sharp breaking waves you only find on the North Shore of Oahu at Waimea Bay.  Anyone that has braved the surf there knows what I mean: great walls of water that appear practically out of nowhere and slam you down on the sand like the hand of an angry God, leaving you gasping and fighting that powerful undertow which holds you fast at the shoreline, helpless as the next wave gathers at your back.

Last week I was doing a bit of exercise on my home gym down in the basement.  I was alone with only the television for company, letting my mind wander as I did thoughtless reps on the old and much used Bowflex.  I heard someone coming down the stairs and looked up to see my dark-haired beautiful daughter smiling at me, a load of laundry cradled in her full arms. The very thing I had been waiting for this last three months.  For a golden moment I forgot myself and smiled at her. The illusion lasted for just a split second and then dissolved to become Roni, carrying a barely loaded laundry basket down to the washing machine.  I didn't say anything at the time, but when I told Roni hours later we both cried about it.

Roni has been watching the TV series "Bones" the last two weeks. Calista loved that series and had all the seasons on DVD stored at her apartment when we cleaned out the tiny split-level in June. Roni is not a fan of the show, but it beats watching incipient melodrama like "Days of Our Lives" as she tends her daily make-up routine.  Because Roni does not know the characters in the show, she was a bit confused about a couple of points and wanted to ask the shows biggest fan to clear up some questions.  She had her cell phone in her hand before she realised she was about to call a dead person for television tips. Now there would have been a big long-distance bill I would love to pay. Later that same day Roni caught Doogie, our troubled Siamese cat with attitude, trashing one of Calista's valuable hard-cover Harry Potter books. When she told me of the little bugger's acts of literary terrorism I was really upset and checked the book for damage immediately.  All I could think of was how upset Calista was going to be with us for not protecting her book from Doogie's vandalism.  There was a full couple of minutes there that I forgot that she was dead and was unlikely to ever be upset about anything ever again.

Two steps forward and one big step back. It's going to be a while, if ever, before we are truly normal again.

I have been rereading my posts these last few weeks, planning on rewrites and edits as I expand this journal into something far more substantial.  There will be pictures and back-story and with any luck a tale that ends with hope for a better future. This week, as a break from the self-centred, tear sodden depressing fodder that has filled 41 previous entries, I am going to give you a photo-essay filled with all of "Her Favourite Things".  Please excuse the photographs; they are going to be mostly mine and therefor really awful, but while Calista seemed to plan for some big change coming in her life, she really did not plan to end it so soon. She didn't leave enough photos behind to really flesh out this particular photo journal.  I hope this works; feel free to tell me if it does not.

It gave her the eye of a photographer and the soul of an artist:
North Island College, Courtenay BC

mountains above, oceans at her feet and a sea breeze to ruffle her hair:
 the Comox Valley was her favourite place

Its art and personal statement:
her 1st and 2nd tattoos together

Halloween: the best excuse for costumes
for a girl who never needed any excuse

Her favourite family: maybe better than Mom and Dad!!

The trusty Canon 40D: Maybe not the "top of the line"
but it was all hers, paid for by her and treasured by her.

Ralphie, her favourite patient at the clinic.
I love this picture
Favourite reason to get called back to work: to transport a baby seal
to the airport for evacuation to the Vancouver Aquarium. Down
side was that her car smelled of seal pup for days after.

Her lover boys: Hermes who she saved from my clinic
and Dougie who she saved in Regina (by talking
daddy into taking them home)

Jack Cowin's Art: he gave Calista the world as her pearl

All these books had the special position above her bed.  The rest
of her "special books" are in a cabinet in the basement.

A bangle for every occasion. And a matching ring and necklace.

Bought for her and she was perfect in it. I can still see her
cruising down the middle of the road, music loud, cheap sunglasses
on and the scarf of the day perfectly tied "just so". A smile is on
my face and tears in my eyes.

Shoes for every possible situation. And I missed at least five pairs,
including the famous "skulls and hearts" rubber boots..
No kidding. Shoes were practically a religion.

Just one closet full? Hell no, this is just the main collection.
She managed to collapse one very rugged hanging rack at her apartment.
 Her comment on the subject? "Duct tape can't fix everything"

I missed her treasured Canon 40D: I had to take this picture with something.
The Lamography cameras (cheap plastic things) still have film in them.
I am holding onto that film for a rainy day when Roni and I
need a boost and a few new memories.

Giraffes.  No idea why she loved them.  The one front and centre
held a special position; he is the only one to make the trip to Comox,
I found this lonely soul sitting next to her bed on her night stand. It meant
something to her.  We will leave it at that.

Did you think I was joking about the "Birthday Tiara"?
Hell no!!  She loved celebrating her birthday. Sometimes I
thought she celebrated her birthday when it really was not
her birthday, just so she could wear the tiara.

You would think those two colours would never work together.
I was shocked when I first saw this, but I would not have it
any other way now. It was just so Calista.

Yoga was just one of her passions. The other appeared
to be nasty, sweaty, boot camp work-outs. Lord I loved that girl.

Cheap sunglasses: seventeen pairs if you count the neon pink clear glass fakes. She liked the colour and it worked with some outfit.

Boxing Calista: I took the pictures but it was her idea. I think she just could not stand the fact that she was never going to get to wear that beautiful dress again. Thank goodness her coach did not walk in as we were shooting this series.
I might repeat this sort of photo array in the future. It was fun and the truth be known, I have been smiling for most of the day.  The shoe shot was hard though; her shoes were so personal and reflected Calista so well that it was kind of like looking at a piece of her when I took that shot.  Roni and I will always have some ghost of her around the house.


  1. She was very photogenic. That bulldog photo is great.

  2. Both Roni and I love that particular photo. It obviously was one of her favourites too since it is the header on her FaceBook page. One comment about her photogenic nature: she had tons of training in portrait photography since she worked for eight months doing commercial portraiture for schools in Saskatchewan. She really knew exactly how to pose "just so". Flattering body positioning was natural to her and it showed in both her own photographs and the portraits she took of other people.