Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Valentine for Sylvie Murrow

It’s almost ‘that’ day. That day where we’re ‘suppose’ to make a show of affection to someone we love. Don’t get me wrong, I AM of the grand gesture sort, but I do it every day, so when Valentine’s Day comes around every February I just shrug and watch the parade go by and sales on all red, pink and heart shaped thingamabobs – skyrocket.

I firmly believe that romance should be left in books, and it should even have it’s own genre and warning: ‘Romantic Fantasy – Beware’, like on cigarette labels, so there are no expectations or mixed signals out here in the real world.

Curmudgeon? Nah. Realist? Yeppers and I know when it all began.

I was in grade 2 and my mom in a mad dash, had to run out and buy a book of Valentines, because we were meant to give one to every kid in our class. I spent hours at the kitchen table that night, tearing out each Valentine from it’s little perforated bed, writing in fat pencil the names of my classmates and then nearly-origami-folding every one for the greatest secrecy into it's little gluey envelope. The next day they would be deposited into a paper bag – not unlike an airsickness bag now that I think about it – which was decorated and taped to the front of each of our desks.

I recall sitting through the day watching all the 8 year olds try to sneakily put their cards into those bags. I didn’t understand the ritual, but at the end of the day it seemed that we were to eat red frosted cake, and open our brimming paper bags to receive all of the red-hearted love that our classmates had bestowed. But what really happened was a lesson in math.

22 kids in the class and only 17 kids with that magic number of cards – a sigh of relief if you had 22 – I did. Then all at once, one girl was crying. I recall the teacher was saying something about that we were suppose to give cards to ‘everyone’. One other girl, who nobody liked, called Sylvie Murrow, just sat quietly. She smiled thinly, I could only see a few small corners sticking out from under her small hands and I know she didn’t have 22, probably not even close, but by grade two she was already use to this.

I never knew why nobody liked Sylvie Murrow, I thought she was a nice girl. People laughed at her blue ‘cat’ glasses, they laughed because she lived right next door to the school. They even made fun of her at her birthday party, where there were a gaggle of girls who all sat beside each other on the couch, stating in whispers that they were only there because their mother’s ‘made’ them go. We went to see the movie The Cactus Flower – it was way over our heads, but Sylvie Murrow sat glued to the screen.

Now I understand, she was just different, and probably already had a respect for Goldie Hawn and Ingrid Bergman that would take me a few more years to cultivate.
I never thought it was right, or fair and I was never part of the bullying, but I never tried to stop it either. I guess I had my own demons to deal with, so I, in my awkward state sat with my pile of Valentines on the desk in front of me, just being relieved that I had the right number.

I’ve tried to look Sylvie Murrow up over the years as social media has grown; I have never found her. But I want to give her a Valentine this year, with all my heart, to try and make up for those lonely elementary school years and to start a new tradition.

If we have to have a Valentine’s Day, what about giving one to somebody other than your main squeeze – what about give a card to someone entirely different.

Here’s a card I made for you to give. 
From me to you, and from you to……..

Just cut along the dotted line.

* Names have been changed. *

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Why I don't go to funerals.

Why I probably won't come to your funeral.

I don't believe you are dead.

Dead is a word we made up to cover the range of emotions we feel when you are gone.

You, gone from your recognizable self, from your form that walks and talks and crawls and breathes, the one we are most comfortable with.

But I still see you in the clouds and in the rain, and in my memory, and sometimes you are still so vivid and alive to me that I forget you are not here in your old-self-costume. The body that disguised you.

So you are a part of me now.

And I am not dead.

So instead, I'll celebrate inside of me, with you, every day.

I will miss your voice, it's sad that it's gone from my ears, but I probably won't come to your funeral, because you are not dead.