Recently on the CBC, a DJ was talking about the loss of a musician; a young musician. He was saying that sometimes there are no words, no rhymes to put loss into words.
And he's right.
The call came late Sunday morning on December 9th 2001. It was a dark, rainy day. The dampness of a long Vancouver winter was already upon us. Sean and I were tired and cranky. Our newborn girl, just 7 weeks old had had a rough night so we'd all had a rough night.
I was sitting on the arm of a chair in our living room, holding Sorcha and trying to decide whether or not she really needed to be fed when the phone rang. Sean got it; it was his Dad. I don't remember the exact words Sean said out loud. I just remember the horrible cold feeling of disbelief; of feeling like someone was trying to pull my stomach out my back; of knowing that our family had forever changed in the end of a heartbeat.
While the world outside our tiny space stopped being real, the baby in my arms because very real and very hungry. Through my tears, my shock and while listening to Sean struggle with the news I sat down to feed our wee girl. While she ate I cried, asked questions, received fragmented answers and waited for Sean to be finished on the phone and tell me everything I didn't want to be true.
John, Sean's cousin, was gone. He'd been found in the alley outside his apartment in Toronto. Had he jumped? No, they didn't think so. It looked as though he'd been thrown. Why? Why? Why?
So many questions...so much confusion...Why did this happen? What are they going to do? What are we going to do?
Two days later, Sorcha and I went to my parents place in Victoria and Sean went to Ottawa for young John. He'd been asked to help carry John's casket to his grave site; help carry John on his last journey which unfortunately was the start of a long tortured path for his family.
John's case was too quickly determined a suicide when it was obvious from the evidence that it was wasn't. John's death was highly suspect, even to the casual observer, but the minds of those in power could not be changed. John's parents who are not people to just back down refused to accepted this hastily made decision and for 8 years they have fought tooth and nail to have the case reopened and have the ruling of John's death as suicide overturned.
But now we come to where the loss of words becomes a reality. How do you put into words the tragic death of a kind, happy man who loved his family deeply, who really cared for people and who truly believed with all his heart that his Papa was Santa Claus? How do you write down the frustration, the anger, the torment brought on by people who didn't to their jobs to bring about justice for John. But most of all, how do you even begin to describe in words the abyss of loss that his parents and sister feel? You can't; not in any words that come close anyway. John would have been 30 this year. The anniversary of his death brings about deep grief for all of us who knew him, but I can't imagine trying to put into words the thoughts and feelings his parents and sister must have on his birthday. There are no words of comfort to say to those who held John on the day he was born when he is now no longer here to hold.
We won't forget John and we will fight for him until the the words we've used to do so will finally mean something to someone. Until the words that have been said out loud are no longer lost on anyone.
Below is a link to a website John's family has set up for information about John, his case and the publicity his case has received. Please take the time to go to this site and see if there is any support you can offer.