Sunday November 11, 2012 was an unusually warm day, here in Kingston, Ontario. The day hovered around 16 to 20 degrees Celsius/ 60.8 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which is absolutely rare for a Southeastern Ontario November day. It was the perfect backdrop for initiating the Memory Walk project. Family, friends, and colleagues all contributed to creating a name, that would commemorate Matt’s contribution of a walk, for our fallen.
The Mothers Walk took its first steps on Remembrance Day at RMC and Fort Henry this year. Friends joined our family, and after a small huddle, renamed the walk as, Memory Walk. Two of us did walk for Matt, later that night, around Fort Henry. As quiet and dark as the night was, we certainly did not feel alone. The fort was dark, except for a minimum of solar lights along the old path, and a self-powered light generator, situated toward the bottom of the hill. As one of the most haunted places in Canada, we saluted all who had fallen in Canada. We saluted all who sacrificed their lives, to protect us. We saluted all parents, who lost a beloved, in the play of war and conflict. We lit the candles at 11:11pm for their remembrance. Perhaps too, the informality and the quietness of the night was a perfect background setting for the birthing of the night Watch. There was conversation and laughter, as we recalled some of our childhood memories at the fort, and this wonderous hill.
Earlier this year, we started with Mothers Walk/ Mothers Watch and the 8 factor – spirit to material, to spirit, etc. This symbolized the continuum of the mother’s womb, and its conduit to life here – from spirit to material. RMC also symbolizes the iconic womb of the military, as young men and women enter into the material life of a soldier and officer. Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu is also another such icon and emblem to our soldiers.
The Watch, also initiated November 11th, in its eleventh evening hour, designated the night’s protection – protection that many of us give our child/ren, the newest and more vulnerable members of society. It also defines a form of protection that our soldiers give our society, in times of instability, conflict, and war. The continuum of the night watch represented the nurture and protection invested by family and community, in the upbringing of children into our culture, as they become one with Canada.
During the brainstorming of this project, the “non-Moms” expressed a heart-felt emotional exclusivity from some of the icons. It was a mute factor not intended! The brainstorming continued…
We assembled at the Arch to RMC at the top of the 11th hour. Many soldiers and citizens were drawn to the services this year, and the beautiful weather that we were enjoying. We bought Red Mums, as tokens to the fallen. They were placed along the shoreline and grounds. Some of the deciduous trees had not dropped their leaves, which again was unusual. The colour of land’s green and autumn stood alongside the colours of the water that day. The shadows of these trees, at RMC’s entrance, showed the bounty of leaves that still remained on the branches.
This shaft of light was at a straight up and down angle, and did not seem to be connected to the skyline, over the top of the trees. We lovingly wondered if maybe Matt had come out to join us after all; we wondered if this shaft of light had come to join others, paying their respect; we wondered if this shaft of light was connected to the mother and child that had distanced themselves from the others; we wondered if this shaft of light was possibly a spirit soldier, from our past, who simply welcomed the homage that all of us were paying to all of them. It was a beautiful aspect of the unexpected that came to join us that day!
Flowers were laid for Joe Grozelle. Flowers were laid for Mathieu LeClair. Flowers were laid for our less known and unknown.
Why do we allow a down-spiralling-effect of accepted collateral damage, and the shoving of less desirable and darker aspects of soldiers and their careers, underneath a carpet? Why do we allow unseemly conversations and decisions to be made by the inner circle of only a few? As Canadians, we too are responsible for the decisions that we stand and abide by. We have to have more say. We have to do more to right the wrongs. It is what is expected of us as world citizens.
As we got back on to the route we had designated for the walk, we found a few coincidences. Matt appeared to take a smoke break with his friends and godmother.
As they finished, 10 Canadian Geese flew over us.
Darcy took the lead, and as we moved away from the water, we headed out to General Crerar Crescent. Darcy and Zach were drawn to the tank and the tepee, as were many families that day. As we began to assemble for a shot inside the tepee, one of the soldiers called out to his son, a young boy of 4-6, to come away, to give us a chance to take a photo. The name he called out to the little boy was Liam. This is Matt’s middle name. We asked if he minded if Liam stayed in the picture. We also explained to him what the significance was of this name. It was a warm conversation among strangers.
These were the type of surprises and coincidences that even the boys were beginning to add up. They felt and we felt that Matt was with us, as we discovered references that pertained to his life and events. As we headed out to Precision Drive, and the designated route again, we found Billy Bishop Road. This was the name given to Matt’s very 1st Platoon in boot camp at St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu. This was entry point into our military for our soldiers. The boys in that platoon were unusually tall. We threw his tartan over the signpost and took the photo. This was a salute to Matt and all who were honoured to be a part of that platoon, and namesake.
We have had coincidences, in the family, like this, since Matt died last November. I think the boys felt they were included now in the fun and rapport that the spirit world engages with us, if we are only willing to stop, look, listen, and even enjoy the humour that is a part of life’s cycles, in this world and the next.