Poor Gord Downie died. I am sad.
This was one of those weeks that just kind of felt like it was going to breeze by and be uneventful. There was no camping to plan for, no family gatherings to be excited about, and not much else to do but sleep and work. The weather had definitlely started to remind us that autumn was a reality, and that grey days were more plentiful than the sunny ones.
That all changed Wednesday morning though…
Tuesday night I went to sleep and then oddly after being asleep for a couple of hours I woke up – wide awake – and couldn’t fall back to sleep easily. There wasn’t much going on in my mind—just a strange feeling that made it an hour or so before I was able to get back to sleep. When I woke that morning and began my usual routine of checking up on social media, I saw the news: Gord Downie, singer of the Tragiclaly Hip had passed away through the night.
More than a year ago it was announced that he had terminal brain cancer and with that he embarked on the most awe-inspiring end of life journey that culminated sooner than anyone expected. So much of who he and his band was had become part of the Canadian identity over the years but especially in the bands heroic last tour across Canada. Despite having had a full, frontal labotomy and enduring chemotherapy Gord’s first call to action was to plan and complete the tour. Someone who already was a hero for Canada cemented his place there for sure. Our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, had this to say which pretty much galvanized how everyone felt, “We all knew it was coming, but we hoped it wasn’t.”
Last year when we got a cat, Emelia instantly decided that his name should be Gord after Gord Downie as she realized he meant a lot to us and to this country and he embodied the fight that her Aunt Linda was unfortunately and similarly straddled with. Gord touched deeply people we call friends and he represented everything that we love about our country and the people we choose to take this journey with.
And, being people who love being in the landscape that makes this country under the stars he now walks with, he became a monument to our family in how a life should be lived and the resonance you make. Definitely our house felt a little emptier on Wednesday. And it’s funny how someone we never met, had such an impact in our household, but it is what he represented and in how his doing so convinced us we could too that left us feeling the inspiration and the loss—all in the same breath.
It was announced Friday that CTV would broadcast, commercial free, Long Time Running, the documentary about The Tragically Hip’s last tour in light of Gord’s death. Plans were immediately hatched to borrow Dad’s projector and to watch the broadcast outside in front of a campfire and under the stars. We extended the invitation to friends, those that wanted to enology this moment together.
The weather was beautiful and the movie was the perfect way to come together and share in something so special. We had friends on lawn chairs in the side yard, around a wonderful fire and covered by a sky full of stars. And while the moment could have been sad and full of tears, it wasn’t. I was filled with so much inspiration. I don’t know if I could take charge of an incredibly sad outcome like Gord did in his last year on this planet, but I certainly felt inspired, proud and moved by it. It was such a great moment. And it was flanked by people who mean a lot to me.
And on that topic, today is Danielle’s birthday. When I think of all the things that matter most to me, there isn’t a single one where I don’t see her there, smiling and making it mean that much more to me. She is sparkle in my eye, the power to my stride and the reason I feel complete. I hope your birthday brings you half the joy you bring to me, and I hope you are able to fully realize just what an amazing woman you are. Happiest of birthdays, love, me. And everyone.
I know it is hard to imagine that a singer and humanitarian can have such an impact on you. The Tragically Hip was not just another Canadian band, they were our band. They spoke to the fabric that is Canada and the unique history of our country. Gord spoke not only to our amazing history but he spoke to the root of things as Canadians we need to reflect and change. Gord spoke to the root of some of our unknown history and to challenging us change.
Not only was Gord one of the best humanitarians that our country may ever see but he also taught everyone how to really embrace life. When he received the horrible diagnosis of terminal brain cancer he didn’t stop, he didn’t feel sorry for himself but he chose to live life how you hope everyone would. To its utmost fullest. He took this last 2 years and chose to take on the topics that mattered most to him. He left this earth on his terms and left this world that much fuller because he was part of it. This is something as a person you hope that you can always have.
So this entire week has been a somber reminder that life is short, life is precious and that you choose to make your own path. Choose to take life as you want and embrace those who cherish you as much as you cherish them. Our entire week has been a haunting feeling knowing that life will never be quite the same, that this country will never see the like of one man like this but I hope that his message and message will stand strong for years to come.
I look back to our memories, this date last year on my birthday we were blessed to be in Toronto and saw Gord perform. Not his long time classics albums but the message from The Secret Path his message and reminder that we need to do more and more for native Canadians and write a horrible wrong. It was hands down one of the most profound moments in my life and we were so lucky to be part of it. I will take the memory of a year ago with me forever, not only to remember a favourite musician but more importantly lay to me amazing humanitarian.
I know our family blog being focused on a lost musician might seem odd but music is the root of everything for our family and a musician who not only spoke to our history as Canadians but an illustration on how to live life is something that we will carry with us.