Revisiting the Past......... Maybe........ Maybe Not

Not so long ago I got a phone call from a good friend and her husband asking me if I'd like to go to Quebec for my birthday this year.......... I giggled. Quebec? How many years has it been? Six, six years since I embarked on what would be one of the worst trips I've ever taken, one of the most beautiful places I've ever been (barring the -30 temps), some of the best fun I've ever had, the end of a marriage, and the loss of my grandmother. Ten memorable days that left me breathless, disengaged, and devastated all at the same time, but I know why they asked, and I know why they've done exactly that for the last five years. Why would I ever really want to go back there? Then again, why wouldn't I?

I didn't say no, that would have been ridiculous, but yet, I didn't say yes. I'm procrastinating as usual. I'd rather spend my birthday in Alaska watching my son play hockey, spend it in a place I've never been, and may never have an excuse to visit again. I'd rather stay home with dogs, and yet again, if I could choose I'd be with my son, have my daughter join us there, but I don't have that choice. I have to say "no," the economy says "no," and my checkbook is screaming that very same word. So, do I go to Quebec? Do I go back and find out how far I've really come in the last seven years, or do I take the chance that what I believe I've overcome is still lurking inside waiting to knock the wind out of me just one more time.

I guess that part of that question was answered last night. I found myself thinking in bed; I never do that. When it's time to sleep; it's time to sleep. No thinking, no laying awake. If you're not going to sleep get up and do something. Things that keep you awake are the things that aren't good for you; nothing is worth the loss of sleep, and it's certainly not worth the way it makes you feeling in the morning. I now know I won't go back; I did that last night.

I lay back and remembered that trip, remembered the beauty of the Old City, and remembered the river that was crested in ice; it was so cold. I remembered the people I took that trip with, my friend Nancy covered head to toe in fur, Jeff in his newly purchased raccoon hat and Montreal sweater, Doug driving me around because my ex-husband was in a tirade, Todd keeping a wide berth because he was supposed to be traveling with my family, but my family had ceased to exist. My friend Dody standing in a hallway telling me I'd be fine, and Tracey opening up her hotel room for my son and I because we'd been thrown out of our own.

People bought my son and I dinner because everything I had had been taken away, they bought us many dinners; it was a long trip. Then I remembered standing in the lobby of the hotel, actually more than one hotel with my phone card shaking in between the fingers I couldn't control, making phone calls because my grandmother had a stroke; she was dying, and I couldn't see her; I couldn't leave, and I couldn't tell her goodbye. Even worse, I couldn't let my parents know that I was shaking, couldn't burden them with yet another thing they couldn't control, and all the while I knew that I would never have told them anyway.

My thoughts didn't stop there, and neither did the memories. I re-lived ten days in the space of just a few hours. I went to the rink, I got back into the van with the sweet old man who drove the players around town, the man who took my son and I to the hospital after my son was injured, and I remembered my ex-husband refusing to go with us, and then I remembered the old man's glance at me; the glance that said, "I'm so sorry." He needn't have been, the collar bone was broken, and it would heal, but the marriage was broken beyond repair, and my son and I stood alone. We stood like trees in a storm swaying in the onslaught of never ending inclement weather, but it was the man who created the onslaught that broke completely. He lost everything.

Sitting in the hospital I wished I'd taken French in high school; I didn't understand anything being said, but once we got back to the rink there were other things I'd never understand, things I never will. Seven years later I saw myself being thrown into the wall of a corridor I've never seen before, but I had seen it, and I did hit it. For the first time I've now seen the look on my son's face as his father grabbed me, and I know where the fierce protection he has for me comes from, the day it began. I now understand why the women who were with us surrounded me, and why the men surrounded us all. We were under attack, and yet we weren't because after that not one person left the perimeters of the walls they'd constructed to protect us; we were completely sheltered.

I don't go to bars, don't drink much ever, but I did go out that week. I would sit falling asleep at the table, all the while hating the noise and confusion, but no one would leave me behind, and I went because I didn't know what else to do. I had a great time during those evenings, and I admit that the "good times" don't make sense, but that's what they were. We continued to be tourists, albeit distracted ones; we saw every cathedral within 30 minutes of the city, but I admittedly really don't remember any of them. I'd find a pew and I'd sit, and then I'd cry. I cried for my grandma, and then I'd cry for my kids. One was with me, and one was going to school thousands of miles away while she cried for me, but I couldn't cry for myself; I couldn't even grasp that all of it was real. The violence had crept up too quickly, what had always been emotional abuse had now become physical, lines had been crossed, and I still wasn't sure where I was standing, or if I was standing at all.

So in the end, every question I could have asked was answered last night. I don't have to think about it, the thought of Quebec is intermingled with too many others, and it always will be. No, I don't want to go back; I've already been there, and my friends as thoughtful as they are need to know that I don't carry it with me; it's just there when prodded loose; it's just a few pages of my life, and you can't erase what's already been written. You can't re-write the past, you can't change the memories, and you can't let the past re-write your future. We write our futures every day.

The city of Quebec will continue to be exactly what it was, a helluva lot of fun, a time best past, and a place of endings and new beginnings. If I ever go back it will be to watch my son play, it will be the two of us there both together and separately. To go back without him is something I realize I'll never do; it is a part of both of our pasts; we lived it together. So if I do ever return it will be for the right reasons; corridors won't hold bad memories, they will stand before us empty and ready to make new ones. Hallways will be nothing more than hallways, hotels will be a place to sleep, and churches will be exactly what they are, a place of worship. The beauty of that city was never sullied by the happenings; I can find beauty in anything, even bad dreams. Birthdays are just dates, and if you're going to celebrate them, celebrate the future, celebrate beginnings, and leave the rest behind. We only get one life, we only get one birthday a year, and if you really, really think about it............ we get that everyday.



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Comments 22 comments

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 7 years ago

Great philosophy....Great hub...


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 7 years ago Author

Ahhhhhhhh philosophies! Mine have changed greatly over the years, or maybe I just kept them tucked away until I really needed to take them out and look at them. Maybe they've never changed at all, and I just grew up and remembered what I've known all along. Life's a journey, and mine has been a good one. Each day is what we get; tomorrow isn't a sure thing, and yesterday is over. So we live today!


sarovai profile image

sarovai 7 years ago

Memories makes the man to live for today whether it is bad or good.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 7 years ago Author

Well said Sarovai


MFB III profile image

MFB III 7 years ago from United States

I wanted to go back, but you can't go back...because it's gone...tIme rearranges, and old familiar place or face changes...an moves on.

So sorry for the agony he put you through, and the loss of a grandmother, they are so precious, which is why we call them grand, I wish only peace and miles of smiles in your future...you have carried enough frowns to last a lifetime.~~MFB III


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 7 years ago Author

Thanks.............. there's always something to make us smile, and thanks again, because you made me do just that.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

I missed this Hub earlier, so I am arriving late. It is heartbreaking to absorb. But I'll tell you this, you are an excellent writer. I am very impressed by your eloquence. You have the gift. I hope you explore that gift to its fullest.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

James- not so heartbreaking anymore, just very sad, but not because of me, because of my son, and everyone else who was forced to watch it.

Ah, exploring a gift.......... thank you.......... the dream is to explore that gift one day in some beautifully remote place in front of a roaring fire; dreams come true, and that is mine.......... ;-)


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Great hub. I definitely think our outlooks/philosophies change as we grow.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

habee- Yes.......... things change, and as long as we can grow as people we change right along with them............. it's not about the outlook or even the change; it's about the growth of the individual.

Thank you for commenting!

Kaie


pager7 profile image

pager7 6 years ago from Kampala-Uganda

A moving hub here! It was painstaking though at some points!


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

pager7- painstaking? I've used a lot of other words, but never that one! :-D

Thank you for stopping by..........

Kaie


epigramman profile image

epigramman 6 years ago

why revisit the past when you can promote the future - and the future for me - don't you just love startling revelations - is to spend more time exploring your righteous hubs!


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

epigrammam- I'm not one to promote the future; the only thing we're promised is what we have right now, and I couldn't be happier than I am. Glad you enjoy the Hubs........... have fun exploring!

Kaie


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

"If it does not kill you, you become stronger." I read on another hub site your response about being too educated... As a prior educator, I have seen this. I was an administrator in charge of I.E.P.'s. Many of the "experts" were "dumb." I know, politically incorrect... As a prior real estate developer, I have seen this in medical doctors who would want to lease office space. It was a challenge to "speak their language."

I applaud your positive reaction (overall) to a horrible chain of events. Endings are beginnings. You demonstrate the importance of resilience. The willow tree withstands gale forces while an oak tree may break.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

dallas93444- You're right! It didn't kill me. and I can be tough when I need to be! A willow tree............. I like that! Oaks can't sway with the wind and catch up their children if need be...........

Experts, are often idiots........... yes, politically incorrect; I know.......... I'm right there with you! This spring we were blessed with consultants.......... five visits, at I believe a cost of $20,000. They came in to teach us how to "team teach," something we've been doing since LRE became fashionable. They spent a total of maybe.......... five hours observing us and meeting with us. Our last meeting, which took 12 teachers out of their classrooms was spent watching a 90 minute DVD on how to decorate the classroom. Lamps rather than lighting, computers on the floor, a loft built into the classroom to provide the students privacy, and a "living room" with a couch, carpeting, and "hippie beads" to set it a part from the rest of the classroom. I guess they hadn't noticed that our classrooms have 35 plus students or that lamps are a fire hazard. Talk about speaking someone's language..............

Thank you for stopping by........... I'll be over to read one of your Hubs soon! Kaie


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Unfortunately, business trained leaders make poor educators! Educators waste more money than they need. Agreed: "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." However, the bureaucracy is stupendous. Being an educator changed my life. I have conquered, pillaged and taken no prisoners in the business world. Education provided me a forum whereby I actually would have to hide my tears when student achievement is celebrated by the student's smile and etc. The educational process changed my life: for the better!


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

The educational process is indeed life changing. Many people find it easy to attack the system, generalize what they think about the educators themselves, and on the whole sometimes believe we are nothing more than puppets for the indoctrination of children. We know better; the people who know us know better; the teachers we work with know better.

Children's smiles are the things that make us get up and go to work everyday. Small gains make us smile back............ every teacher is NOT what people would like to believe we are, but I guess like everything else........... we know the truth.

I'm glad your life was changed............. and happy to hear of your success in the business world. Go get 'em! Kaie


fred allen profile image

fred allen 6 years ago from Myrtle Beach SC

Kaie- The thought that you were abused makes my stomache turn. I know that we've never met, yet I feel hurting you would be the same as being cruel to a child. There is an innocence that has been stripped from you that can only be restored with the passage of time and even then not completely. Happy that you seem to have great support coming from those around you. While you will always have those memories, there is much love in your today and in your future.

I posted a reply to you on "what dreams are made of"

I pray for your well being and happiness.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

Fred- Everyday is filled with love and happiness.......... I have never been happier! There are times I wish I could be be naive, times I wish for the innocence of youth, but I've found over time that I can still be naive and that I still believe in innocence. I never stopped believing in goodness, and I never lost faith. I lost trust........ that's a bit harder all the way around. Thank you for your prayers........ I'll head on over to your Hub now! Kaie


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

This is the second time I have read this tragic story. I think it affecting me more emoionally this time for some reason. The imagining of it all; my eyes welled up with tears.

Well, maybe Quebec City would look different in the summertime? Maybe not. Maybe it is best to avoid it altogether. God Bless You.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 5 years ago Author

James- Summertime would leave me with a vision of the city I've never seen. All of the beauty held in the city of Quebec was seen through frigid, icy weather............ lots of dodging in and out of buildings.

We've made travel plans for sometime in July or August. When Quebec became part of the itinerary I never even flinched. They say that time heals everything............ I think that the people we love do that just by loving us. I am well loved and extremely blessed. This we know................ tis a fact. ;-)

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