Addendum to the Day the Painter Died


This morning I awoke early, somewhat behind schedule for an important 8am meeting at the Royal York Hotel. It has become a bit of a running gag with a client of mine – we meet in the hotel lobby and overtake one of the unused conference rooms to conduct work sessions and meetings.

In the midst of my scrambling this am I noticed an email from my cousin Warren. It was somewhat out of the ordinary to get a message from him so I stopped to read it in heed of my potential lateness. This is what it read:

I’m not going to comment about your writing on Facebook… but Shirley died of lung cancer about 6 months ago.Thought you should know.
Kind Regards, Warren

I staggered a little and reread it a few times. Shirley Fors, Buddy Fors wife had died without me knowing or having any power to attend, visit or pay respects to her or her family, my family. It turns out my cousin was also not informed until after the fact.

I was reeling in and out of flashing emotions and having a hard time processing things. I sprinted to the train station and face planted on the stairs seconds away from the train leaving me, but assembled myself and jumped on at the last minute without paying. Panting and sitting on the stairs the thought of her and yesterday’s post went over and over in my head. with each pant I saw her, or a fogged image of her that I have retained from a visit to her apartment many years ago. Many years after my own mothers death from lung cancer. I think the visit was to introduce my older sister Marie to her. I think she gave Marie our Mom’s fur coat, but I could be wrong.

During the panting I thought about her and how she was so like my mother but so different at the same time. My father and I had talked often of going to visit her to “catch up” see how she was and rekindle some of the good times that happened long, long, ago. I thought about having to tell him the news and how I wished I hadn’t written the previous post. I was angry and sad that one last connection to my mom was now gone.

I was mad that no one had told us. I was cheated out of a chance to do something I never got to do, and never made the time to do. I wanted to blame everyone else, and for a while I did – until someone quoted something to me at just the right time:


Yup. I had started to surround myself with answers to the whys and hows that really had no answers. The way in which I would decide to interpret the situation would create the scaffolding for my emotions around and over it. This statement in a sense set me free of it. It helped to disconnect me. It seems cold, but without the facades of organized religion or a currently strong spiritual affinity it works for now.

The dead are becoming more and more numerous. They pile up on you after a while and if you let them they can suffocate you. Dwelling on negative pasts will put an air-tight seal on top of it all.

The painter and his wife are dead. Conversation complete.

It is one day until I turn 51 and I did not expect my posts to be so dour – I was hoping for things to be a little more optimistic, more bouncy and fluffed up. Kittens hanging in there with flowers and Cooper Bold typefaces. Instead it’s lives lost and plaster of Paris Jesus sculptures cracked, broken, and powdery on a red puddled kitchen floor.

It’s unfinished business.

I often wondered how she could live with herself, knowing full well she didn’t have any choice not to. I wondered if she ever had unnerving pangs of terror and guilt over the event. Did they creep up on her like the sound of a speeding train moving far too close. Did they immobilize her? What kind of life did she have? What was it like to do it? Did he haunt her?

Questions I can never ask her and questions I never would have, even if I had created an opportunity to. We all just ran away. We all just took off, turned our backs and pretended we never even knew them. It was all just too uncomfortable.

Now it’s over. Today it ends for me. Like the ending of a movie I didn’t understand.

Life is lost to them both now, not just the painter.