I didn’t avoid the funeral because you were going to be there.
In all honestly, I hadn’t thought of you at all until my husband – who did go – told me he saw you there.
I’m not sorry I missed seeing you. It would have been a thirteen-hour round-trip and since my catastrophic – and permanent – burnout seven years ago, my body just can’t handle that big of a day. But I’ve been thinking of all the things I could have/ should have said to you, had I gone, that we both know I wouldn’t have said because well, I never think on my feet.
Oh, yes, I heard you were quite the upcoming star in your field! Your Mom used to tell me all about how well you were doing: climbing that ladder; making such a name for yourself; playing on the 2018 World Junior Hockey Team, no less, and winning for Canada (!!!); getting noticed by all the right talent scouts; being courted by all those teams; making all that money now!
The NHL drafted you right after that championship, didn’t they? Wow: they must think you’re something special!
Gee, come to think of it, your Mom hasn’t said much about you for awhile now…
Well yes, I did hear about that little ‘thing’: I mean, who hasn’t? It just keeps coming up on the news, kind of like a bad penny. You must be just sick to death of hearing about it.
The room was nowhere near full but there were nonetheless a lot of us there: say, 150 people, or 10% of our community’s population, which any small-town municipal employee would tell you is a roaring success.
Our local provincial MLA (Minister of the Legislative Assembly) was there to warmly and casually greet us at the door – many by name – and also to officiate the proceedings. My husband and I quietly commented to one another that this was a good first sign we were being taken seriously. The speakers were all clustered at the front of the school auditorium. There were three RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officers, including one who would turn out to be the spokesperson throughout, and the just-appointed-that-week Minister of Public Safety.
Dear Readers: I didn’t have a proper Halloween story so I am sharing a post about real monsters instead…
He has been lying since he was a little child.
At first, they were just little lies; meant to save him from being caught or from getting a spanking. But as he saw how good he was at lying; as he saw how much more people liked him when he told them exactly what they wanted to hear, it became a habit. Little lies soon became outrageous whoppers.
I recall clearly that it was a beautiful sunny day: the kind of day that happens on that first day in the spring where everyone goes outside without a coat for the first time and the air smells fresh and new and full of possibility.
I was in grade three, walking hand-in-hand with another little girl, through the school playground. I clearly recall how wonderful it felt, to have a friend who didn’t mind showing the entire world that she liked me enough to hold my hand. I was not a particularly popular child in my early elementary years so any public demonstration of affection was a feather in my cap; a sign that I was popular too (sad, that even at age 8, I already understood the concept of ‘popular’).
“LIZZIES!!! Look at the two lizzies!” shouted an older kid, pointing at us and laughing loudly. At the time, I was sure that every single kid on the playground turned to look.
The following is a work on fiction, based on a composite of a generous number of people I have warily watched from a distance over the years. According to statistics (* sources below), 1% of the human population meets the clinical criteria for psychopathy. In my country of 38.1 million people, that means nearly 400,000 people. We always imagine psychopaths as serial killers or other hardened criminals, but in reality, most psychopaths hide in plain sight among us. In order from 1 to 10, the professions that draw the most psychopaths are: CEOs, lawyers, the media, salespersons, surgeons, journalists, police officers, clergy, chefs and civil servants. While the percentage of psychopaths in these professions is still very low (statistics cite anywhere from 3-4% to 10.42%), you have likely met one or two in your lifetime. I know I have…
I am not what anyone could describe as a social media junkie but like so many my age, I rather like Facebook: you get to reconnect with old friends from childhood. You stay in touch with family members who live far away. You stay connected with old work friends. You share all kinds of jokes, recipes or news. You can even join clubs, tailored specifically to your needs and interests! Like so many people, Facebook became a lifeline for me during the social isolation of the Covid pandemic.
When I was a kid, I aspired to owning my own set of encyclopedias, which seemed to me the height of ‘being rich’. Like almost all my friends, however, I had to go to the library to use an encyclopedia. I didn’t go there for just any old thing: it had to be really important if I was going to bike all the way to the library to find out whatever little piece of knowledge I was seeking.
I will therefore remain amazed – to the end of my days – at how easy it is now, to look something up on the Internet. Want to knit a pair of mittens? Talented people will show you how – step by step – on YouTube. Your doctor told you to lower your cholesterol but didn’t give you any specifics? No problem: you will find reams of reliable medical information and healthy recipes in no time at all. Want to know how tall your favourite celebrity is? Yep, even that silly question can be answered with the click of a button.
I recently joined a local Facebook page that posts the headlines of current events. The news is pretty mundane stuff. Often, I don’t even bother to read any further than the headline. Sometimes I refer to the news link the page manager always incudes in the post. Occasionally, I read the comments.
Always, always a big mistake…
I come from a really nice, rural part of Canada where strangers wave at you as you pass by them in your car. People stop to help you if your car breaks down. Everyone – even teenagers!!!! – speak politely to you. So, I was appalled and saddened by a sudden increase of random meanness and cruelty in the comments section of our little local news page. To what end would people ever speak to one another that way? Would they say these things to one another if they were in the same room? Knowing the folks around these parts, I strongly suspect they would not.
A few weeks ago, I quietly crept away from that page, which is a shame, because it was a good, fast and reliable source of news. The vile comments, the easy anger, the foul language, the cruel taunts, the nasty jabs: well, they hurt my heart (and rather ruined my day).
I understand righteous anger. I have even posted, a time or two, on political events that really upset me. But it is the meanness that takes my breath away. I know we are capable of better. But is it still possible for us to reign in all that nastiness? Or is it like Pandora’s Box, now opened and released on the world; too late to take it all back?
Kids are allowed to have a Facebook account as of age 13. I don’t know if you remember but I sure do: kids that age are impressionable. Kids that age can be wonderfully kind but they can also be incredibly mean. And they are listening to all of us. There is no way they are unaffected by the cruel comments some grownups post all day, every day.
I have always believed it takes a village to raise a child. That village doesn’t even have to have an awareness that the kids are paying attention, but you can be sure they are paying attention. They hear (or see) every word. And I do wonder: what kind of ‘village’ are kids today growing up in? No parent could shelter them from all the vitriol that is out there.
Remember when mothers washed their kids’ mouths out with soap if they said something vile, or mean, or crude?
Yeah, me neither. I am 60 years old and that parenting fad had already passed by the time I was born.