Killer Whale Tank… Grace, Too


As I sit here, watching “That Night in Toronto”; from the “Hipeponymous” limited edition box collection. I find myself stuck somewhere in the middle of something more.

Though the origins of how I claimed this four-set DVD already makes it a prized possession of mine. Today… it become even more valued, and prized.

When my sister passed away, there were no silver linings to be had, or found. None.   I always admired my sister’s taste in art, and in music. So I tried to mimic her interests as much as I could, with than came my love for certain musicians, and artists. Matthew Good, Tragically Hip, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Tool…etc. I first listened to these bands, because Jen listened to them. I think my mom, though she listened to the same stuff, she was aware that I was too picking up on the same things. I can remember when she was cleaning out Jens room…

 As an aside… Damnit, God bless that woman for having the strength to clean out the left behind remains of your own daughters room. I can’t even fathom. I can’t. The few times I’ve seen the doorway to her room since she’s left… it’s incredibly difficult. I won’t even try to find words to articulate what this is really like. I used to go in there and ask her about the pictures she had, what book she was reading, what albums she was into… Now… It just kind of… sit’s there. Door half closed. Stickers removed. What once lived? It’s hard. I think that’s why my mother is without a doubt, one of the single strongest people on the planet, and so admirable.

Anyway… I can half recall finding this black book like thing shortly after Jen’s passing. I pulled it out to see what it was. Almost looking like a bible, graceful, elegant cover. Gold images of doves, and inbetween it read “The Tragically Hip”. Opening this book, I see the contents of four DVDs – “Hipeponymous”.   I knew just where it came from. I wanted this.

“Mom… Can…. I umm… have this?”

“Yes, just please take care of it. That was Jens”

I can remember this as one of the single best days of my life following the passing of my big sister. I still, to this day can smell the cover of this book, and it brings back the scent of my sister. So, to this day… I have taken care of this item more than I have ever cared for anything in my life. Between this boxset, and an old hoodie of Jens, I keep in a separate closet, hung up by itself. It’s some of the few items I have that I can still almost smell her. Maybe that sounds weird, I don’t know. But, when you lose someone… as time goes, all you want is to hear their laugh, their voice, and to remember that smell that every person has. Well, this boxset somehow can still give me a little bit of that. As a result, it remains… a prized, sacred possession.

So… As I sit here now tonight, 11:20pm on a weekday… I look beyond the screen of this computer, and I see one of the most incredible musicians perform…. “Quickly… follow the unknown!”

My heart broke this morning when I read the news about Gord Downie. I don’t even know the man, but I swear… I felt like I had lost someone who was by my side. I have spent hours, by myself, with friends belting out the lyrics to “Little Bones” and many other classics. So many songs bring me back to a better day when my Mom, Jen and I would cruise down the highway to Victoria. Listening to “The Hip”. Or, when my mom would drive me across NE Alberta for hockey, blasting “The Hip” out of the explorer.

I grew up… with Gord and “The Hip”. As close as I feel to Matthew Good and his music, which has been well documented, Gord Downie and the Hip are a right there.  I think, and I hope that I do speak for millions of Canadians when I speak of The Hip having such a positive impact on my childhood, and my life today.

I can hardly imagine a life without the Tragically Hip, and I can hardly imagine a life without Gord Downie. This has been a horrific year for musicians, and the loss of all of them have hit me differently, but… this one… for me is different. Almost personal. My heart broke today. Fully Completely.   Broke.

I know upstairs… Jen is just putting together a concert for the ages. It’s the only thing that’s providing me solace through the seemingly bi-weekly news of another terrific musician lost. And, while… Gord is still with us today…

I just… I hope I can see him one more time before she does…

All the best to Mr. Downie and his family.

… Also… anyone that reads this… I have a few Hip Live DVDs.  I’d love to just flop over on the couch with a 6pack and watch if you want to join.  Anytime.




Pigeon Camera – When Dreams Happen


If you’ve been following along my blog for some time, you know now that I love music.  I am always listening to music, reading lyrics, watching concerts…etc.  Growing up it was a big thing in our family.  The second thing you might know, is every now and then I have dreams of which my sister is in.  Sometimes so vividly, I can see that she is happy, enjoying herself.  I believe this is her way of telling me she’s better now, and that things are going to be alright.  I wish I had these dreams of her more often.

A few of these dreams I’ve had with her, I’ve really tried to keep with me, and revisit them often. Just to see her smile, and to see her laugh.  Sometimes I’ll ask her before I go to sleep how she’s doing, and to visit me soon in my dreams.  Hoping that I’ll see her again.  One dream I had with her in particular, I can recall almost every little detail, and have still images of this dream as if were some kind of photograph.

We were in a dark room, presumably some kind of pub.  Looked just like the Crocodile Pub in Seattle; my favorite place on the planet.  Jen loved Seattle, I often wonder if she got to go there.  Anyways.  Ahead was a small wooden stage lifted about a foot off the floor.  The stage, well-lit, sat in front of a small circular table that my mom, my sister and myself sat at in high black bar stools.  I can even remember the order of which we sat.  Mom was in the middle, Jen to the left, me to the right.  We sat, and laughed, all we did was laugh.  Jen looked just as I remember, she just looked… happier.  In front of us, on the stage performing was the Tragically Hip, complete with Gord Downie’s usual performing antics that make them such a phenomenal show.  It just seemed so real.  They just played, and played, while we sat at our grungy round table laughing, embracing the show in front of us…. and they just kept playing.

The Hip have always been a band that we listened to as I was kid, and growing up, I mean… who didn’t?? As I got older, I realized that my mom was more often right than wrong in her choice of tunes, and I learned to appreciate some of the bands she forced on me more and more.  Today, I love them all.  Music was something that we could all share together as a family, and continue to do so now as Brody grows up and learns to appreciate real music.  I remember always talking about music with Jen, wanting to look through her Roots CD wallet, see what new albums she had, or what she was listening too.  I’d try to trade her some of my discs for hers, or if deal was declined, I’d just try sneak away with the ones I wanted. Borrowing!  I must have gone through that CD Wallet five thousand times growing up.  That very same CD wallet is one of the most cherished items that I now have. It sits in my bookshelf, with all of her CDs still in place.  I’ll take them out, listen to them occasionally, and they go right back in the exact sleeve I found them.  I take care of this thing, more than I take care of anything else that I own.  For years, I wouldn’t put it near anything else, in fear that it would lose the scent of her.  I can remember yelling at Amanda after she moved in with the rest of the photo albums and such on the bookshelf at our old condo.  She asked why, and I didn’t want to tell her, I think I just said “Because!”  One of the other things I have of hers is the “Hipeponymous” box set, which I treat as if it were a million dollar item as well.  These two things that I have of hers, to me are as important as the pictures, and the memories I have of her, and more important than pretty well anything that I claim to own.

I’ve been to a Hip performance once before; Stampede Roundup.  However, I stuck about 300 yards back, and could hardly see a thing, or hear.  So to me, I don’t count that as really seeing them, cause, well… I didn’t.  Thus, The Hip have long been on my concert bucket list.  I’ve been fortunate enough to attend countless amounts of shows, and have seen many of my favorite bands.  However, none of which were shared with Jen.  It’s something that I think about every concert I go to.  Man…  I wish you were here.  I think this is probably what led to the aforementioned dream.

Last night… My brother got to enjoy his first real concert, and I got to knock one of the bucket list.  Mom had taken us to a show.  The Tragically Hip.  Brody. Mom. Me. Empty seat.  Just as we sat in my dream.  Beside me was probably the only empty seat in the first two levels of Rexall Place.  I thought nothing of it. Great, more space.  The show went on. Few songs in…”Pigeon Camera”  My favorite Hip song.  I didn’t expect to hear this one, not realizing he was going to play the entire FullyCompletely album.

Over there that’s my room
And that’s my sister’s
And that’s my sister
With something we could no longer contain

At that very moment, it hit me.   That dream came back to my mind, as vivid as ever.  I glanced over, and realized.. Brody, Mom, Me… Just how we sat in my dream.  Then, the empty seat beside me… Jen.  She was there.  Right beside me.  Pretty well the only empty seat in the building.  I started to laugh.  Couldn’t believe it.

My dream had come true

As I drove through the night, and early morning hours of this morning heading home, I was absolutely just gleaming.  I had my iPod playing, on shuffle… I have about 700 songs or so on this iPod.  You know when you have the shuffle going, you really always quietly hope to hear a couple different songs, then they never come on, so you get frustrated and then just search for it.  Well, I was really hoping for this one particular Yelawolf song…  Sure enough, two songs later.  Write Your Name.  I kinda laughed to myself, thought, ha thanks Jen!

Then, nearing Calgary, I thought… Ah, I really hope I get to hear The Year the Summer Ended in June before I get home.   Not three minutes later.  Yep.  I was stunned, butterflies.  I couldn’t stop myself from giggling, and shaking my head.  Here it was 2:30 in the morning.  I’d been awake for 20 hours straight.  Drove to Edmonton and back… and I all I wanted was for this night to continue on forever.  I have never felt Jen’s presence so much.  I could almost see, and hear her.  It was seriously, a dream come true.

For the last six years, all I’ve wished for is a chance to go back, and spend more time with Jen, do things with her I hadn’t done when the opportunity was there.  Nights where I’ve laid in bed screaming for a chance to go back.   Moments where I’ve wished myself sick, and sore.  It was as if I were to squeeze hard enough, I could go back.  Could go back and spend time with her, and share those moments that we’ve missed out on.  Moments like last night.  With everyone.

And last night, It just happened…

February 12, 2015 will go down as one of the most memorable nights of my life.  Thank you to those who were apart of it.  Mom, for taking us.  Brody for coming, and sharing tonight.  I was thrilled when I heard you were coming.  I had no idea.  And Kyle, for sharing some of your evening with us, and planning dinner, and meeting us.

I always laugh when people say this, and consider it to be so cheesy, and ya ya whatever.. but, everything really was aligned last night, just right.

Truly, one of the greatest evenings of my life.

Thank you.

Love, B