Yesterday I accompanied my mom to a beautiful old Toronto home turned hospice. Her youngest sister Laurie is there because of the cancer that has invaded her body. Pardon me while I shake a fist at damn cancer.

Much of our family gathered: my other aunts and uncles, some cousins, my brother and sister-in-law and of course Laurie’s three girls and her husband. Dion had the opportunity to visit earlier in the day. We took turns being with Laurie- sometimes many of us filling her room, sometimes but a few. Always, always right there are Bob, Meghan, Kate and Emma, clearly knowing exactly what is needed.

The veil of tears is thick. This all feels surreal and so very sad. I will never get used to death drawing close.

What a remarkable privilege it is though to be present at a time such as this. I can’t imagine having been anywhere else, except in the company of Laurie and my family. I’m grateful the opportunity was and is there.

I have many wonderful memories of us all being together and certainly of Laurie. When I was small my aunt would take me for a day during March Break: we would wander Kensington Market, eat fresh bagels, buy a little trinket and go back to her place to make art. There was always lots of art making. I recall the time Laurie and my three or four-year old self were walking on the ice of Lake Ramsey in Sudbury- as we got close to Grandpa Bill’s boathouse Laurie fell through, fortunately it wasn’t deep, but oh so cold. I remember Laurie and Bob dancing in the kitchen. I have always admired the way Laurie gives gifts and now seek to do the same. She reads. She makes good salad. Maybe what I love most is Laurie’s ability to both laugh and cry with such ease.

When the wheelchair taxi arrived to get my mom home much of the family walked outside to see us off. As we drove away the driver kept saying, “look at all of you, you have the same smile. Nice family. Big, just like my family in Africa”.

With those words echoing in my head I now sit here writing, crying and occasionally laughing. I can’t stop singing “Our Town”, the song that was so sweetly sung, with ukulele accompaniment to Laurie by her girls and Bob, while we all stood in the hall…

Now I sit on the porch and watch the lightning-bugs fly.
But I can’t see too good, I got tears in my eyes.
I’m leaving tomorrow but I don’t wanna go.
I love you, my town, you’ll always live in my soul.

But I can see the sun’s settin’ fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on, I gotta kiss you goodbye,
But I’ll hold to my lover,
‘Cause my heart’s ’bout to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to my town, to my town.
I can see the sun has gone down on my town, on my town, 
Goodnight.
Goodnight.