An Open (Thank You) Letter To Gord Downie

Either it will move you or it will move right through you.
That's what my dad used to tell me all the time when I was a kid.
His nod to the oceanic and the microscopic.
The beauty of breath.
The music of words.
The indifference of color and light over the arc of the day and the careless erasing of stars the new sun would bring.

His sentiment, not mine.

Ornate, pretentious, opaque, maybe.
Also, yes.
He, like you, saw the invisible.

And then you added this addendum: fully, completely, such that the sentiment now read: either it will move you or it will move right through you, fully, completely.

And fully, completely is how I found you.
Pieces of lightning shot through a hospice-ready speaker into my skull during the frozen closing act of my twenty-second year.
An aching dispatch from a philosopher-poet shot across the hundredth meridian.
One that would burn in the middle of my chest through the darkest hours of my life.
You became an unknowing, unwitting hitchhiker.
A clumsy beacon always unaware of your muscle.

You were there the night my doctor told me I would be dead in three months and you were there a few days later when I became a father for the first and only time.

You were there the night I told my father I was dying and you were there one week later the night he told me cancer had found him too.

You were there when the two of us sat side by side on his bed in our time-lapse race to the grave and you were there the night he won that race.

You were there the sun-broken day I lowered him into the earth and you were there an hour later when I made the proclamation that would become my daily mantra: while I am dying, I will be totally fucking alive.

You were there when the poison hit my veins and my blood was set on fire and you were pressed against my ears the night I tried to end my life, end the pain that poison put me through.

You were there through broken loves and lost jobs and dying friends and you were there as I typed out the last page of my book, a blind missive into the void I hoped would comfort those like me, like us now, who faced this untuckable sky.

You were there for every birthday I wasn't supposed to see and you were there as I watched my heart grow from 19 inches to over 6 feet tall.

You are there when I hug him every morning and you will be there when I fly him to witness the elaborate hoax you will have once called your final performance.

You see, you're not going anywhere, Gord.
You're going to dance to the precipice and you're going to find us, the millions who've been rescued by the music of your words.
And then you will swandive headfirst into that night sky and watch it shatter into a million days.
And we will be here to share them with you.
Fuck cancer.
We will help you lift enormous things.