The house was quiet and still, where once you couldn’t escape the noise. It was mostly happy noise, not always, but it was life. Life’s noise. The ringing of the phone, the tv in the living room with the volume way up, the laughter among friends, and the screaming between sisters. That day the air was heavy and stale, waiting for movement, for a breath to keep it alive and fresh. Shadows hung in every corner, low clouds that eked into every crevice and made the light heavy and dim. In the corner of the counter, where it had always been, stood a coffee maker. The white of the plastic had yellowed from years of use and cigarette smoke in the house. The glass carafe stained brown and chipped on the spout, where when you poured the coffee it would leak down the side of the carafe and sizzle against the burner creating a noxious steam. It still had a half a pot of coffee in it with spores starting to grow. I don’t know how long it had been there, it didn’t matter.

That visit, with me standing there once again with my mother and sisters, was like an exhalation. An exhalation of life, more than just one, an emptiness so complete and final, yet also, endless.

This is death. This is grief.

Grief is death left for the living. It is a vacuum. A black hole. There is no air to breathe. No ground under your feet. No voice to speak, no sound to hear. It is a void, profound with nothingness and at the same time, all encompassing, all consuming. Grief is the penance we pay for having known someone who lived a life worth loving. I closed my eyes and the vision of my self, the self that grew and developed there, slipped away on a sigh.

I stood barefoot on the warmed planks of the splintering deck, a coffee in hand and the grace of the sun upon my face. It was a cool morning, June in Labrador. I knew I had to leave soon. I knew leaving meant so much more than getting on a plane and saying, “see you soon”. It meant leaving everything I had ever known behind – forever. My home, my childhood, and my dad were all dead.

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