I could put on a brave face. But the truth is that the past week has been filled with tears.
Callum’s friends had their prom last Friday and on Wednesday, they had their Grade 12 graduation.
These were such meaningful milestones. For the French Immersion group, they had been together for 12 of their 18 years. For me, it was a week of missing Callum and wishing he was here, with his friends, where he was supposed to be.
My friend Stephanie and her daughter Abbey, Callum’s friend since Grade 1, invited me to the pre-prom party at their house. I instantly declined, saying it would be torture. But Abbey persisted. And I knew that I didn’t want to have regrets. So I went to the party.
I arrived late and the group was buzzing around taking pictures because the double decker bus would soon arrive to take them to the Confederation Centre. Stephanie sent a few of the boys to round up the others. And then I had to step up beside them for the photo.
I can tell you that I was channeling every bit of Callum’s courage to stand up there with his friends and smile for the camera. I was filling in for him…the spot where he would have been.
I left the party shortly afterwards and drove a few minutes away to the cemetery. I sat there and cried. As they were all loading onto the bus to go to prom, I was sitting in my car, in the rain, staring at the place where he was buried.
A few days before prom, I had the idea of creating a garden for Callum, to mark his Grade 12 graduation. Thanks to Joanne and the Town of Stratford, we were able to create the garden at Lantz Park, just up the road from our house.
On the night before the graduation, his friends arrived with their plants and we got to work. Within half an hour, we had created what I think is a beautiful bed. We even think it’s in the shape of P.E.I.!
What I have learned from this week of sadness is that I need to actively do something to deal with my grief. When I’m feeling crushed by sadness, I have learned to try to create….find something tangible to do to replace being overwhelmed by grief. And I think other people are feeling the same way too and that’s why everyone has been so supportive. We are all looking for a way beyond the sadness and loss. To show him — and to show the world — that Callum Russell MacLean mattered.
There is such a loss of control when you lose someone you love. I keep talking about making sure that people remember him. And now I think I understand why. I can’t control what happened to Callum. But I can continue to talk about him and write about him and do things in his honour. That is in my control. It feels good to understand what has been propelling me. I’m not going to stop. But I understand, just a tiny bit more, why I’m doing it.
And now, to Kenya. To see the classrooms that we have — collectively– built in his honour. Callum’s story will now be shared with more people, as will the love that we all have for him and how he lived his life.
Asante sana. Thank you very much for supporting me through this week of emotional turbulence.
I love you Callum. xo Mom