September 26, 2011

An old haunt

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:56 am by letterstoelias

Some things change, some things stay the same, and I guess some do a bit of both.

I went somewhere today I had wanted to go for a while now.  I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I knew it would be easier than a number of other things I’ve done since you died, and I felt a strong pull to go back.

I heard that some had never left, and others had returned.  Familiar faces.  Those who knew us ‘before’.  Those who were there when it all began.  Those who ensured you were treated to the best food any hospital patient ever got.

I so rarely do anything other than go ‘through’ the city on my way somewhere else, and a rare reason presented itself for the girls and I to head downtown today.  Within blocks.  I knew I had to go by, and I wanted the girls to be there too.  I wanted them to see a place where you spent so much time (and hell, I spent a LOT of time waiting for you there too).

At times I call out for people to share stories of you – and never get many replies.  That place holds so many.  I was hoping the girls could hear one or two.

All week it had been on my mind.  Excited.  Nervous.  Back and forth and completely intertwined.  As I started the drive through downtown, nervous started to take the lead, but I was going.

As I turned the corner to the back ally, it all looked so different.  Where once an old heritage home and vacant parking lot sat, now stood giant apartment buildings.  Had it really been that long?

Thankfully, there was a space right in back, where I had parked so many times before – and as had happened more times that I can count, I saw a few faces look down from the windows at me as I pulled up – only yours was not one of them.  And these ones looked more than a little confused.

It had started to rain quite heavily, but I got out and stood under the window.  I can’t even recall what was going through my mind as I didn’t see any of the familiar faces I was hoping for, and I figured these people would think I was crazy – but I still shouted up to the open window, ‘Excuse me?’.

Thankfully one of the chefs answered back.  I asked if Takeo was there.  Not until Tuesday.  Julio?  Not until Wednesday.  I figured Nate wouldn’t be there yet, but asked anyway, and of course the answer was no.  He struck me as kind – I told him my husband used to work there years ago, and I was stopping by to say hi.  The rain was really coming down and I was going to leave it at that, but I turned back and asked if I could bring my girls in for a moment.  He said sure, then he came down to open the back gate.

I got the girls out fast and we went into the covered area.  The smell struck me.  Exactly the same.  I saw a chef making pasta in the lower kitchen.  Working away, as you would have done.  I could picture you there.  He looked over at us and smiled, though likely as confused as the rest.  The first chef (I wish I had caught his name) was in the cooler area.  I explained a little more . . .

He was very kind.  He didn’t (seem to) get awkward or uncomfortable.  He brought up another name he figured I may know, and sure enough it was James (he doesn’t work there, but apparently this chef trained under him).  Blair still stops by once in a while too.  I asked if we could go upstairs and just have a quick peek at the kitchen and dining room (it was early enough that it would still be closed) – he said sure.  I knew it would be tough, and strange I’m sure for the other chefs upstairs who still didn’t know why I was there – but it became a moot point when E saw something that scared her and wouldn’t go any further.

Oh, that damn foot.  She knows you got it from a place that used to be ‘beside’ the restaurant, and though I told her that place was no longer there, she saw a laundry bag filled with dirty kitchen towels, and apparently (I found out later) thought it was full of body parts.  I had a feeling something along those lines was factoring in and offered to carry her – she didn’t even need to go past it – but it was a no go and I didn’t want to push it (I’m sure it was already a little odd to the staff there, let alone with me carrying a screaming child around the kitchen).  Perhaps much of it would have been lost on the girls anyhow at this point, without people there who knew you to share memories with.  But if that would have even made a difference, I’m not sure.

I chatted a few more minutes with the chef – noted a few changes that had been made.  I was struck by the stairs, as they had been widened significantly and seemed less steep than I recall (would have made it harder for you to do your prank falls to freak out the delivery guys).  He told me that there were lots of changes – a few others I could see, but it was still so familiar and oddly comfortable to me.  A part of me just wanted to stay.

I thanked him for his time anyhow, and asked him to tell the others I had asked about that Elias’ wife came by to say hi.  I hope he passes the message along.  I feel like he will, and I hope we can make it in again sometime soon, and see those familiar faces.  As I backed out, I missed seeing your smiling face looking down at me, waving good-bye – but I could picture it.  As we left, the winds picked up, but the rain stopped and the sky started to clear.  I was more than certain that if we weren’t stuck between high-rises we would have spotted a rainbow as the sky looked primed for one.

We carried on with our day and the main purpose of the trip, which was Chloe’s housewarming party. It was great to spend some time with family there.  On the way home a song came on, and the lyrics were a bit of a trigger.  I managed to get us home fine, a lousy dinner, bed.  Exhausted.  Then, as I sat to write this letter, I played the song again.  And the tears started flowing.  My heart constricting.  E woke up to go to the washroom and heard me.  She asked through the door why I was crying.  I invited her in, told her that I was missing you, and we snuggled.

We talked about maybe going back to the restaurant one day – I promised she wouldn’t see any fake body parts and it was all just laundry.  I tried to tell her a few of the stories I knew . . . how you loved to take bets and once took one where you had to drink 4 litres of chocolate milk, which ended with you throwing up chocolate milk everywhere.  As I told her I started laughing, and then crying some more, while laughing (and for some reason it makes me cry again now while typing it).  I wish I didn’t have to try and convey everything you were to them.  It’s impossible.  I wish they could see it for themselves.  I just miss you so much.  So fucking much.

Life is busy.  Overwhelmingly so.  The girls are amazing.  They miss you too – they cry at times.  I’m not miserable 24/7, but you are still on my heart and on my mind to that extent.

I’m glad I went today.  I do hope to go back.  And, maybe when I do they can tell the girls how many lemons you could fit in your mouth . . .


P.S.  I Love You

And, this was the song.  Sure, about a break-up, but 99% of the lyrics are still pretty accurate….



  1. Debbie said,

    This song makes me cry every time I hear it. I’m so proud of you for going back to your and Elias’s old haunt. I sometimes wish I could go back to where we met, fell in love, had our babies and just lived life in a bubble of happiness and denial. Sending you lots of love and a big hug.

  2. Maria said,

    This song….I have a hard time listening to it. I try to sing it, and I break down in tears.

    *hugs* Those places we go, when we are secretly looking for just a glimpse…

    Lots and lots of peace and love.

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