A letter to my father, 3 years later, at our favorite table.

Dear Pappa,

Sitting at our table at Lions Gate Hospital Cafeteria.


Three years later now… you died on October 25.  How can this be real?  You and Mamma seemingly immortal.  Yet-


I would love to break down- my heart feels too big for my chest cavity.  I want to curl inward.

There was so much life- and there still is.

There were so many laughs, tears, visits, conversations, coffee cups and just being.  So many Swedish videos-

And those salami and cheese plates and those hazelnut milk chocolate bars and all that gum.  So much Tobey-


So much life!

How can your heart, Pappa, be so present and beating and then stop?  And end?  Is your life over?

Oh, this table—

Plugging in and setting up.  Our note taking and reviewing, our planning, your dictation.  Actually getting the book done.  Somehow.  Somehow.  How?  How?

I hear the familiar hospital staff behind me on their 5 PM break.  Remember how they yelled “Lucky guy” to you every time?  You yelling back with a thumbs up?

I watch the Fall leaves outside- gently moving in the breeze.  This view.  How could we be so happy within these walls?


Is it because it was SIMPLE?

We were free (so very free), within the limits.  Those delicious undisturbed hours just the two of us, with Tobey asleep under the table.

Taking a walk around the block first with all our bags, then setting up at our table- ELATED when it was free.  Hurry!  Hurry!

That northwest corner.  The perfect spot. The view of Grouse Mountain.  Get the coffee and the food.  Plug in the laptop.  A good long visit.  Then the packing up and heading back through the north doors and letting Tobey pee.  In through the side entrance to Evergreen and back upstairs in time for bedtime prep.

And you- so heroically enthusiastic about it all.

How can this be 3 years later?  You passing on the 25th?  How can this be?  Seemingly in the blink of an eye.

Though SO MUCH has happened since.  What I take away from our times at this table is the SIMPLICITY of being.  So much has fallen away.  And I carry the corner table with me.

As I write this, my pen is clutched tightly in my hand,  Overwhelmingly tight.  And my other hand clutched the paper of this journal.  It is one of your old notebooks that you had only just started.  In the front flap you had written in pencil:


What were you starting?

My head is down.  Not looking right or left.  I do not want to meet a familiar eye.  I want this moment to be my time.  Our time.  But as I look towards the sun setting- so many sunsets with you- but now our view is blocked by new buildings.  Still the same chairs.  The same tables.  The same trees, bushes, smells and sounds.  Two tables down sits that woman who transported you through the underground hallways to the multitudes of procedures.  She slowed down so you could give the finger to the morgue sign.

Sigh sigh.  BIG SIGH.  I wouldn’t trade this grief though.  I worked hard.  I was so tired.  So tireless.   So very, very blessed.  We knew we were doing important work.  Work for US.  Whatever that meant.  Not just for legacy but for the process.  We really really enjoyed THE PROCESS.  Savouring the sacred moments at this sacred table.

The past is never dead. It’s not even past. – William Faulkner

Roar Thorsen with grandson, Henrik Roar Thorsen, October 23, 2011.

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