Saying Goodbye: A Night in Calgary

It’s 03:30 a.m., and I lay awake in a strange room. Nothing that surrounds me is familiar. The dark that blankets this space feels less like a call to rest, and more that of a void where pained thoughts flourish. It’s strange how loud one’s mind can be in the dark. It seems to echo off of everything in the detailless space.

Soon the room becomes haunted. I feel a breath on the back of my neck, through spastic flurry I twitch and roll toward the touch — nothing greets me. Nothing except more unease, more unsurety.

I supposed there is but one thing of familiarity that dwells within this room on this night, and that’s the intimate relationship I share with anxiousness. I hate hotels. I hate hotel rooms, and on this night, at this moment, I’m beginning to hate the city, too.

I came here for a very specific purpose; a goal motivated by a humble drive to let go. And yet I am riddled by a weighted guilt that has set itself deep into my veins, poisoning the marrow and fibers within me. The heaviness of fatigue stings my eyes, my chest feels tight and uncomfortable, my heart aches alongside sinew and bone.

I begin to doubt my resolve — “can I do this? Am I strong enough? What if Dean starts to feel like I do, and when we get there, he too feels as though it should be me in the ground, and not the hero we have come to see…?”

Dean is a filmmaker, and a friend. We have come to Calgary to stand graveside, and visit Cpl. Starker. I’ve come here as part of a larger introspective journey to finally lay Starker to rest. That is to say, that I am attempting to let free the ghost of a fallen brother. My soul has yearned for quietude for so long, and now at this stage in my life, in my recovery, I feel as ready as I likely ever will to finally say goodbye…

I am however still with affliction, this night, and this post is proof positive of that. Part of me wants to cry, but the other side of me won’t allow it. It feels as though there’s a war inside of me — ironic for the warless soldier — but regardless, onward the battle rages.

I’ve peeled back the curtains and now look toward the sparkling towers of downtown. I’ve always loved skylines, man made and other, so my hope is to bring about some ease. But as I gaze out through blackened night sky, the ebonized streets soon turn to daylight and I now recall the pavement beneath my feet from that harrowing day — the day of the funeral.

I along with hundreds, if not more, marched through the cemented streets of Calgary escorting a slain brother to the place of his final earthly embrace. I am scared of tomorrow, I guess today, considering the time.

I will soon be standing in the footprints of a younger me, remembering and re-living the horrendous ache of that day. I hope I am as strong as I wish to be.

For now though, I think I’ll just sit here with the lights on for a while.

Hotels… I hate em.

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