My mom and I were out driving when we got the call that Grandpa had died.

My mom and I were out driving when we got the call that Grandpa had died. We went up to the hospital to meet my aunt, uncle and cousin. Grandpa had 9 lives everyone said, but today was the day. When we got to the hospital we made our way directly to Grandpa’s room. It went dark. I can’t seem to remember. Only fragments. 

The vision of Grandpa’s dead face still haunts me. I’m convinced if I think about it for too long, it will trigger the nightmares again. His face. His mouth was hanging open. Cold. Gaunt. Ashen. Someone hugged me. I think I tried to pretend everything was OK. Fuck. It wasn’t. Someone hugged me. My aunt. I had to go back to school. 

Rae gave me a “Sorry your Grandpa is Dead” card that she snuck into my high school locker. Kids rushed past. Kaleb. He looked at me. Something bad was about to happen. I’m in tears. Paul blocks me from the noise, from Kaleb’s stare, in a gesture that seemed to emerge from a place of protection, honor. I was in grade 11 and Grandpa was a dead body, motionless, mouth hanging open. 

I ate soup again tonight while my boyfriend Lane was out. 3-day-old soup. Salty. Bowtie pasta. Chicken. Carrots. Celery. Tastes like my past. Reminds me of when Dean and I used to play with Barbies when we were around 5, I think. I never saw anyone put ice cubes in their soup before Dean Armstrong. He ate soup with ice cubes and played Barbies with me like it was no big deal. 

When we were in grade 5, he told me to “just let it all out,” as I vomited into a plastic garbage bag on a school road trip to the Bowron Lakes. Mom drove our big white industrial van while Dean and I ate pretzels in the back seat. Lydia, Dean’s mom, road shot gun and kept mom company. They never stopped talking the whole trip. It makes sense if you know my mom.

2 years later, I heard the kids got in big shit for stealing candy bars from the local corner store on the Bowron Lakes. The owner was from Germany, I think, and called a bunch of 12 year olds, “assholes.” 

Nothing that eventful happened the year I went. 

I learned how to paddle a canoe for the first time. I’ll never forget the look on my mom’s face when Jane exclaimed, “Mrs. Liechti, you’ve stopped paddling.” My mom still brings up Jane’s impertinence that day out on the water.

Oh I almost forgot, there was a semi-major event on the lake that day.

Apparently a moose had found its way onto a patch of land right near the water’s edge. I can’t remember the exact details, but my mom likes to remind everyone that Fred Brown put a bunch of 10-year-olds and their parents at risk that day. I suppose Fred, Joanna’s dad, wanted to get closer to the moose (likely for a photo op). He pinned the moose in which is a big “no-no” according to Mom.

Well…we’re still here, but my mom always likes to remind us of the crisis that was averted that day. Mom likes to pair the Bowron Lakes moose story with a story about a university professor who got trampled to death in Alaska by a moose. An “unsuspecting victim” she calls him. Apparently a moose was cornered by a bunch of students on a university campus in Alaska. 

Next thing you know, a professor causally walks out of a university building to find an agitated wild animal ready to trample. He died of course, otherwise the story wouldn’t be worth telling over and over again by Mom. Moral of the story: don’t corner a moose. Ever.