Saturday, September 24, 2011

my letter to Jack Layton

I finally feel ready to publish it. Enjoy.
August 27, 2011


As I promised in the wee hours of the 26th, I would write you. So here I am. I may repeat what I said, but writing will give me a way to expand on it.

I still can't believe you're gone. And I cannot begin to describe my sadness: I'm crying as I write this.

I was looking forward to you keeping Harper in check. I was looking forward to you challenging him. The filibuster this past spring was nothing short of awesome, and I was looking forward to more of that, to more defence of the 'little people'. But although Nycole [Turmel--interim leader of the NDP] and the rest of the NDP will get to continue that work, you will not. And that’s what makes me cry the hardest: thinking about things that I'd been looking forward to, things that Nycole will get to do, but you will not.

I remember watching pre-election news with my parents before I could vote. My parents are both Liberals, and although I agreed with the LPC, I also found myself agreeing with the NDP. But although I've always agreed with both parties, until a year ago I tended to vote Conservative in provincial elections and Liberal in federal elections (I'm proud to say that I have a clean record, having never voted for Harper, who came to power two years before I turned eighteen). It was only in the 2010 provincial election that I began to vote differently, and I voted for a third party: the NDP. Between the '08 and '10 elections, my political views had begun to shift towards the left, and by the time the rumours about a possible election in 2011 had begun to circle, I knew that I was no longer a Liberal; that that party no longer represented who I was as a young woman, that I no longer identified with their positions. As of this year, it was NDP or bust.

And what an election it was. The election was supposed to be just another trip to the polls--but we voters never accepted that message. I remember when the NDP's poll numbers started to skyrocket; when the possibility of either a Conservative government with an NDP Opposition, or an NDP government with a Conservative Opposition began to look like more than a fantasy. When it began to look like a possibility. And oh, when it became reality! The NDP becoming the Official Opposition was just about the only thing that gave me hope on election night (Harper's win made me cry with anger). Having spent a significant chunk of the election reading, I vowed to not let him get away with his plans to turn Canada--a country that I love more than anyone can imagine--into something completely unrecognizable.

I still feel that way today. I will oppose any law that I see as a threat to the freedom that we Canadians enjoy. With a Harper majority, no one can afford to be uninformed or apathetic.

I miss you, Jack. Last night, I started to do my usual dancing, but after a while I couldn't do it anymore: I was crying too hard, and, for the last half-hour before I called it quits, did the dishes, and started to get ready for bed, I was just too overwhelmingly sad. I miss you--I could keep saying that over and over.

Your funeral this afternoon was one of the most beautiful that I've ever heard (I listened to it on CBC Radio One)--the only other funeral that can compare is my granny's, in early-March '06. During hers, I found myself smiling several times, and during yours it was the same thing. I cried the hardest I have all week (even harder than in the last two days). In fact, I think I cried as much as I have since the twenty-second, and my eyes stung for a couple hours afterward from the tears. But I also applauded with the audience in the hall, sang along to Hallelujah (I usually sing along to O Canada, but this time all I could do was sob so hard that I could barely stand), and laughed. Sometimes I laughed and cried at the same time. It really was a celebration--one that I will not forget anytime soon, and one for which I am grateful. I loved the diversity of the ceremony: the different music genres, cultures, languages, memories, sexual orientations, religions... And Rev. Hawkes' reference to your last letter (sob).

Thank you for all that you did and accomplished during your life. Thank you, thank you, thank you a thousand times over. Like many people, young and old, I will proudly pick up the torch that was once yours, and carry it. Although I am an artist, and not a politician (though I'm far more political now after Election '11, which I owe mostly to you and the NDP, and for which I thank you), I will proudly continue to fight for the underdog. I accept your call to be "loving, hopeful and optimistic" (or try to, anyway--a Harper government doesn't make that task easy). And I fully intend on changing the world (whether local, national or international)--through my art, and through my actions.

Goddess bless, and go in peace.

Team Layton for life,

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