|Jack Layton and his granddaughter|
I believe it is the events the World is experiencing at the moment. One cannot turn on the news without some catastrophe just waiting to pounce, just waiting to destroy any peace I may have gathered through the night.
I could list them. But it would just exacerbate the whole thing, magnifying them in my mind.
The one thing I will mention, however, is how Jack Layton's death from cancer, at the age of 61, affected me. He was the leader of the Opposition in the House of Parliament, a New Democrat.
|Jack Layton, with his granddaughter Beatrice, and his wife, Olivia Chow|
I was in a state of shock the morning I heard about his death. I had known he was ill, of course. I saw him making his last announcement, when he said he would be back in September. As ill as he looked, I believed him. I thought he would be back in Parliament, holding all the rest accountable, as he had done for his whole life.
To me, he was like a Terrier or a Bulldog, worrying and tearing at the Conservatives without restraint. With a four year term of a majority Conservative government, I felt so much better in knowing Jack Layton was the leader of the Opposition. I felt, if anyone could, he was the one who would hold the Conservatives to account.
|Flags fly at half-mast|
I felt he had our backs. And when he died, I felt bereft. Who could possibly take his place?
I was astonished when I cried, really cried, for him, for his wife and family and grandchild, and for Canada. And I was truly amazed at the wave of emotion that overcame the Country. I'm not sure I remember this ever happening before.
He wrote a letter to Canadians the day before he died. In his very personal letter, he urged all of us to remember not to let others say we can't do a thing our minds are set upon. He addressed his Party, his caucus, other people suffering with cancer, the youth of Canada, Quebecers who believed in him enough to vote in huge numbers to give him the opposition Leader's seat. And he addressed his fellow Canadians.
At the end of his letter, one that must have been so difficult to write, he wrote..."My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic. And we'll change the World."
I wonder if I could have had the fortitude to write something so eloquent if I faced death. This man remembered the people of Canada, knowing well his time was at an end. This was the kind of man he was...and the words above were words he truly lived by, in all accounts.
As the World enters strange times, where nothing seems certain, where Earthquakes, Tornadoes, terrible accidents and civil unrest seem almost the norm...I will take Jack Layton's words and enter them deeply within my soul, never to be forgotten or misplaced.
Let us, indeed, be loving, hopeful and optimistic. Let us not give fear the upper hand. Fear is a destroyer...love and hope fill the heart, giving more strength I believe we will all require in the coming months and years ahead.
Jack, I will miss you and your smiling face. I will miss your witty, sometimes even snide, comments. I will miss the love you projected to us all, even though I never knew you personally. It does not seem to matter, to my complete and utter astonishment.
We are living through strange times. I do not blame myself for not wanting to write about despair and fear. As odd as it seems, Jack Layton's death opened the hearts of people as nothing else might have done.
And perhaps, this is the point. This heart-opening, this outpouring of love, the collective astonishment that this could be so for a politician's untimely death...this taught us all to be more open, more heart-centred.
Imagine the possibilities...
This morning, I had a conversation with my Muse, the wondrous lady who sits on my right shoulder as I write.
And she did not let me down.
Rest in the greatest of peace, Jack, your time on Earth has ended too soon.
It is time, now, to take up the cudgels, the loving truncheons, on your behalf.
And I will.