In the summer after Bryce contracted cancer we rented a cabin for a week on Silver Lake in Muskoka.
We had always wanted to buy a cottage. Figured we had plenty of time.
Bryce was, after all, only 38.
It was a perfectly picturesque little place. Down a long gravel road through thick shield trees.
They had adorned it with all the usual accouterments. Tea cloths with maps of Scotland and Ireland as window drapes. Rusty sheep shears playing at art over the fireplace. Throw rugs hiding red industrial carpeting. Long wooden stairs down rock face to beach and dock.
Michael, he said, this is just so...
We sat in what seemed abandoned deck chairs right out at the lake's edge.
Millions of mosquitoes.
Listening to late night baseball games from the west coast on the shortwave.
The tapestry of stars overhead. It is truly amazing, the band of the milky way.
I had this little digital, great camera, and I took photographs of everything.
You on the boat.
You in the canoe.
You stretched out on the sand.
On the last night you fired up the BBQ. You always loved to BBQ.
Fish, meat, chicken, the heads of Christian babies, it didn't really matter...
You always found a way to put it above burning white embers.
The steak was perfect...properly rare, hot outside but cool in the middle.
You knew how to cook a steak!
When it began to rain we played Trivial Pursuit. It was there.
I would never have guessed that you knew that Danny Kaye was the Court Jester. I still don't know what that even means.
I had recorded it all. Shot a pic a second. But I had not brought the charger. Towards week's end I had gone into town, to the local drug mart, and bought one of those godawful disposable cameras.
Frozen frames of final days.
Seventeen on you died. Michael, you had said, I am just too tired to fight anymore.
When the funeral was done...
When the service had past...
Walking home in the South Etobicoke industrial rain...
God, oh God, I had so loved you.
Three years later, I finally left. Unpacking in the new apartment. With Joseph now, happy.
It was the Monday after moving that I went back to clean up before turning in the keys. I found that disposable camera. Wedged secretly behind cereal boxes. I had long forgotten it. In the shock of your death, I guess I had never had it developed.
Turning it in, days passing, knowing, at last, lost moments recovered.
I was so full of anticipation going to pick them up.
29 cents, the cashier said.
What do you mean 29 cents?
But that was it.
23 pictures overexposed.
1 picture left.
I just had to smile though, as the damnedest thing was that it was a photo of...