Last year as we approached November 11th, I wrote a post describing what Remembrance Day meant to me growing up.
I remember my father – a Signalman in the Canadian Armed Forces in World War II.
I remember my mother – surviving 5 years in Nazi Occupied Holland.
My very existence can be attributed to a war that brought together these 2 people from diverse backgrounds on different continents.
Unfortunately there have been too many wars since 1945. Whether or not we believe in the ‘rightness’ of the conflict and the role our relative governments have chosen to take, we have an obligation to remember and honour the young people who have responded to the call. I will remember. I will pay tribute to them.
However, I have another, unrelated reason to remember. On November 11, 1970, I lost a cousin.
I was a freshman in high school and Sam was 2 years older than me. The schools were closed for Remembrance Day and Sam had gone to the family cottage with a friend to do some hunting. As is often the case with young men in high spirits, alcohol was obtained -but in combination with loaded rifles that day, it was lethal.
Sam was accidentally shot and died on the scene.
I remember it was a clear, crisp, sunny day. I remember the confusion when the first phone call came in … and the rest is gone. I have no memory of the shock and disbelief that likely followed that phone call, the whispering, the funeral, the sadness. It’s like I wasn’t there.
Maybe that’s why every November for the past 44 years, I think of Sam – the soft-spoken young man with the easy smile. He would have turned 60 years old a few months ago. I find myself wondering about the man he might have been, and the family he might have had.
The loss of a young person leaves a hole in the lives of the people left behind. When that death is in a violent manner, that hole seems to have jagged, torn edges that don’t heal properly. The What Ifs remain, unanswerable.
Yes – November is a month when I remember. This November is not an exception.