The lake is a cure for everything that ails you. That is what my mother has always said and that is why I came back this evening. Because I need a cure. For my aching heart, my puffed red face and swollen eyes.
I have been weeping for days. Every day. For the loss of Jack. For Canada’s loss. For my own loss of a leader, a role model, so warm, earnest, deeply likeable and trustworthy that people listened. He has made a real difference in so many people’s real lives—and not just at the level of good feeling and inspiration.
How do I explain to my precious lover who does not come from politics, activism, and religion (like I do) why I am crying so much? Wave after wave of tears. For days. He has been so respectful. I dare say that he too has been touched by Jack and saddened by his death. I know he recognizes that something has touched me very deeply and he is making space for this. Usually he cannot stand the sharp radio sound quality in the car, but instead of saying he could not handle it (during the preamble to the funeral) he fiddled with the controls to improve it and just occasionally gave me a touch on the thigh. He quietly observed my grief which surprised us both with its perseverance. Once home, I could barely pay attention to him. Everything I normally notice was eclipsed in order to see and hear the funeral. He accepted it. And I felt his tender love even through his lack of explicit understanding. Like, somehow, he does understand. When he fell in love with me, only hours after we met, he looked into my eyes and said that he trusted me. When he fell in love with me I believe that he was also falling in love with love as I understand and feel it. Without knowing it, by loving me, he also loved Jack-ness. I managed to tell him through a painfully clenched throat that Jack represents what I stand for and the parts of my roots which are the most precious to me. Jack managed to speak and write about love and hope without being saccharine and with a millions responding to him—listening and wanting to be better, to do better, to become more and more like Jack—a smiling example of generous living.
Generosity. Openness. Listening. Doggedly finding a way, determined, to help others to see that love and generosity are the way. The only way. The only good way. He has struck a deep resonant chord in me and in so many of us that yearns for true love and generosity. I want Obama to know about Jack. Many times this week, I have wondered if he is aware. I want him to be encouraged by Jack’s words the way we have been. He has been on holiday and I wonder if he knows about Jack—if his advisors or media watchers got him to follow some of what has happened this week. Obama needs a dose of Jack.
And after the funeral I needed to call Bruce, my wasband, friend and father of my teenagers. I needed to connect with him because of our shared background both from the 20 years we have known each other and the 20 before that. Jack’s contribution and death have inspired him to work for the NDP more, perhaps. I am inspired to not be shy or sheepish about my values: love and generosity, courageous activism for a more just society, communication, listening, apology and forgiveness.
Listening is one of the most important and rare skills we could possibly have and develop. I want us all to listen so much more.
I want to be the same person inside and out. Like Jack. I want to have a house which is bustling with goodness: music, ideas, food and community. I want to find more ways to be an activist in the world. I want to have more fun. Play more music and share more important moments with the people I love. Like Jack.
Let’s be more like Jack. Let’s dare to be inspired by his death and life. Because love spreads. And so does generosity. And it spreads fast. As long as we do not let ourselves be shamed or ridiculed. As long as we do not crawl back in our hiding places. Let us be inspired. Let us dare to hope and to speak of it with each other and to wear it on our sleeves. Rise up. Let’s go.