(My estranged father, Bill Laybolt, was diagnosed with inoperable Stage-4 Lung Cancer, with ‘Mets’ to the brain, this past New Year’s. We had only spoken once in thirty years. After choosing not to accept treatment, he asked to see me).
Thirty years ago, I stood in a place I hated and stared up at a piece of the sky.
I thought I was saying goodbye to that place forever.
Yesterday, I returned there.
I sat on a couch in the home of my father and made a dying man laugh.
I answered every question he asked.
I accepted his offer of the tools with which he built structures that will stand long after his passing; in churches and homes across the province. I told him I would try to use them to build good things.
I told him about death, about choices, about the work of the dying, and about saying goodbye.
I told him of the skills he had instilled within me. I told him of the ways I knew were his that I see in myself.
I listened as this withered man who just didn’t have the tools to be a father tell me he was proud of me. That he respected me.
I drank the coffee his wife offered and I watched her weep.
I held him and felt his brittle bones in my arms and heard his tears fall.
I told him to have peace and to take it with him.
I told him to call me if he needed me.
I went outside, stood in the exact spot I had thirty years ago, and stared up. I felt the earth beneath me, and the sky above, shift.
I watched the deepest, clearest sky in the world. I watched the radiant blue of the ocean. The full moon high in the day-sky. I breathed in deep the cleanest air and listened to the silence of the ice in the harbour.
And then I started the journey home.
What beautiful irony, this human life.