I love taking Fridays off for no reason… this four-day weekend is exactly what I needed. I slept in and made blueberry pancakes topped with fresh strawberries that I got from the farmer’s market at Nathan Philips Square. I had picked them out and the guy says, “eight dollars”. What?! I thought, these better be the best strawberries I’ve ever had. And they are.
Yesterday I spent the day with my friend Neesha, catching up, grabbing Starbucks, taking the water taxi over to the Centre Island, and having an amazing dinner at a patio on Harbourfront. Harbourfront (and hanging out with Neesh) always feel like home.
The last couple months have been some of the most difficult of my life. My beautiful friend Gosia passed away on June 7th at age 47 after a long battle with cancer. I miss her every day, and still can’t bring myself to say the words ‘she was’, because to me ‘she is’ and always will be. We are all one, in life and in death, and we will all remain connected in whatever form or location, whether in this world, in this life, or the next one. She was my angel, who appeared at a time when I felt lost, and infused magic, artistry, creativity, and wonder into my being. I can’t imagine my life without her, but yet it will continue, and she will be there as a guide and friend, albeit in a different realm.
Since I’ve been back in Toronto, every place I visit brings back a memory of her. I remember all the fun times we had at Harbourfront and visiting her when she moved to the Danforth, immersed in the magic of her garden, puppet shows for the kids, and parties with magical souls. Those times will be etched in my memory forever.
We had a beautiful ceremony a few weeks ago to celebrate Gosia’s life, departing from somewhere near Cherry Beach, and sailing far into the waters…. time did stop as it always does when Ella sings, but in reality it was around four hours when we returned.
Ella and Peter and David sang songs from Carmen, Fools rush in, and Hotel California, and we danced and swayed, and did our ‘Gosia poses’, channelling our inner goddess (it’s funny how the moment you go into the pose, you feel her presence and liveliness), and I read a poem that a friend of hers had passed along to us.
When you are lonely and sick of heart
Go to the friends we know,
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds;
Miss me, but let me go!
We released paper origami cranes and boats that Magda’s son had made, each one vibrantly coloured, and threw roses into the water, one by one, that seemed to line up in a perfect path to an unknown land. We told jokes and laughed, and David (who used to be an entertainer on a cruise ship), sang about covid and politics and Doug Ford, played the accordion, and made us all laugh.
Tashana and Andrew drove me home, in Drew’s convertible, and I held onto the balloons… one from each of us for Gosia, and when Tashana yelled, “Let go!” I did, and watched the balloons rise into the sky.
Sabina shared her bubbly wisdom, and I was amazed that there is another soul that has a meltdown when a sock goes missing. “Is it the Bermuda Triangle in there?” she says, and I know exactly what she means. I’ve come to accept that some of us just feel things a little more deeply, or perhaps we were separated from someone in another life.
When I’m feeling down, I watch this quirky video of Gosia’s to cheer me up. She was over the moon about doing this series.
Part of healing has been reconnecting with old friends and good people. A little while ago I went to High Park and visited my second parents (or should I say third, I seem to have three sets now!). We sat outside and caught up on the antics of the little ones in our lives – “She can say ‘anything‘!” I told them. I heard about a new book currently in draft mode about girls who want to reach the sky (but can’t because it’s too polluted), exciting business prospects, and old injuries that stubbornly persist but have nothing on the joy inside. It was a gorgeous day, and I wandered through the park… the first person I ran into was my first poetry teacher, Catherine Graham! This was my first random run-in since I’ve been back in the city, and it was so nice to see her and hear about her new book, Ether. Oh I can’t wait to get back to classes at U of T!!
One Sunday I went kayaking in Port Credit with Magda and her daughter. Magda has an origami kayak, which folds up and is almost like a paper toy. Her daughter and I took the big one, and she took the origami one, and we set off for the ship wreck, then to the river, sailing past four baby swans, its mother (I got a little too close to one and the mother started to hiss), and the father that stood close watch nearby. We shared stories of Gosia as we rowed. After a couple hours, we were wet and alive and exhausted, and headed off to grab something to eat. Her daughter was on a mission to find a burger, but it seemed to be a conspiracy that they were all closed. Meanwhile she was trying to convince me to quit being a vegetarian! She said she was so hungry that she could’ve eaten me, but I couldn’t eat her because I can’t eat meat. Very true. I forgot to tell her that the word ‘meat’ is practically in my name – what an irony! It was nice to unwind afterwards with a hot cup of green tea.
Life teaches us lessons every day, ones that we resist because they can be so painful, but persist because they are whispering their wisdom, and wanting to protect us from hardening our hearts. Keep your heart open, they say, and nothing can harm you.