I Didn’t Want to Say Goodbye

January 14th, April 5th and 9th, June 29th, October 16th, November 17th.  These are dates that give me pause; one of them is also the June 29th person’s birthday.  I don’t hate them, they are only calendar days after all, it’s what those dates represent. I didn’t want to have to say goodbye to those people.  These are now negative days, ones that I will inevitably find myself just thinking about how much I miss the person or people who died on that day, and right now none more so than January 14th.

That date was this year, 2023.  When I went to bed in the early morning hours of a Friday night, I had no way of knowing that 100 kilometers away two large pieces of my soul had just died.  I would find out later that day: Saturday January 14th we learned that the house those souls lived in burned down overnight.  Two bodies were found.  It was in the news.

There was the horrible task of calling me after confirming with the police that this indeed was our family that had died, telling me what happened and letting me know that police were on their way to talk to me. They arrived not too long after, but long enough for me to start wondering why, how did this possibly happen?  How come they didn’t get out?  I’m still wondering that because at the time the fire probably started, they would both likely have still been awake.  The policemen were kind and explained as much they could and left me a card with a number to call if I need victim services.  The reality of it all hadn’t sunk in yet so I did speak to them clearly.

Then I thought about work – I’d have to be off, how long is a question but definitely for the allowed week.  I notified my boss and the person who would have to fill in for me and I put my out of office on.  By this time reality was starting to hit, so the phone number I gave them was gibberish but at least the information in the email wasn’t.

Nobody wants to receive an email like that and my boss called me to let me know they got the message.  It isn’t easy getting news like this and it is difficult certainly for anybody who knows you well but isn’t in your personal sphere; how much do you ask and how much should a person tell?  Anyway, that was work and one thing I knew for sure was that there would be no one week off and trying hard to muddle through after that. This time these losses would blow up my world in ways that would go on forever. One of the two bodies was my former husband who I had been close to for 40 years and who was the father of my two children, the other was my youngest child, my baby. My son.

When something like this happens, time passes in unusual ways and at first you’re sort of lucid as the shock keeps the hurt from sinking in too deeply.  It’s that initial period when between the tears you phone or meet with people to make arrangements and the like. My daughter, son-in-law, spouse and I spent the next week dealing with the various people we needed to immediately, such as the funeral director and notifying whatever we could figure out since we didn’t have the usual paperwork to go on with the fire destroying everything. We divided the tasks of father and son between us; they were living a simple life with little to speak of and so it was figuring out what to do exactly and then doing that which is what we were doing (and still are, two months later).

That’s the administrative end of things.  By far the harder part is the mental and emotional toll that a sudden passing causes.  I won’t speak for my daughter as she has her own story to tell if she wants to.  Mine though, is my own and it is very complicated indeed. 

There are two things that I do want to share:  one is that while my husband and I didn’t work as a couple, we started off as, and always were, friends.

My son and I had been very close until he became upset with me about some things he heard. He didn’t like my explanation and decided to stop talking to me a few short years ago. I kept the door to communication open and was waiting for the day when we could clear the air. All I ever did – as his mother – was with his best interests in mind, even if on the surface it might not have seemed that way. It’s the underlying reasons why I did things the way I did was what he was missing.

However, because I was dealing with adult decisions that as my child he didn’t need to worry about, that bothers me. Probably we would have worked it out in time. The thing is, I’ll never know. That hurts me so much right now, this unfinished business. If there is karma, I hope whoever told that stuff to him is held in some way accountable for the harm those words caused us, and that they learn the power of forgiveness.

Relationships are messy.  They can be glorious, wonderful exaltations of joy, comfortable spaces of love and quiet understanding, whirlwinds of activity, times of despair and even loneliness, compassionate acceptance, places for growth and sometimes, darkness and resignation.  The main element underlying all of that is love.  Whatever else and regardless of how things were in whatever moment there was that.  I will always be grateful that for all of my life, there have always been people who cared and for whom I could care even if that circle of caring was small as it is now, or big as it has been.

Death is unfortunately something I am well acquainted with.  My mother was in her 40s when she had me so from a very young age I was going to funerals for great-aunts and other people, sometimes friends of my mother’s, sometimes relatives I didn’t know I had.  I grew up with tales of people long gone. I thought I had no grandparents until my paternal grandfather was dying and I was introduced to him. 

I learned then of what I think of as our family curse, people getting cut out of the circle.  I’ll never know what the issue was between my dad and his father since they are both gone now. I’m left with one memory of my granddad: he and I sitting at his kitchen table talking.  I don’t remember what we talked about but I do remember that he looked like a smaller version of my dad with a larger nose.  I don’t think that’s how he would have liked to be remembered by his granddaughter. 

The sad thing is the same thing happened with my father and my immediate family.  There were good reasons for my parents to separate – this was a regular event in my life, his moving in and out.  When I was 15 it was the final event, and he was effectively cut off from one side of the family. I listened to him, set some boundaries and told him to treat me like a friend because laying down the law on a 15-year-old me just wasn’t going to cut it.  He agreed and we were very close for the next two decades, with me acting as a kind of middle person between the warring sides. I didn’t like it but it meant something to me that people weren’t told that he was dead when he wasn’t.  Some went so far as to only refer to him as “him,” said in a venom-dripping tone – something I really disliked. 

My mother was a kind soul who never spoke about him like that, thankfully. She was always sad that it finally ended because she was faithful and truly believed her High Anglican teachings that marriage was for life. It was other people who did that. At the time it felt mean to me and the people doing that lost 20 years of his life. There were family members he only met when he was dying and the swords were laid down.  A very familiar modus operandi for us it seems.

I will accept a lot of things. Being mean, rude or disrespectful aren’t included in that acceptance. That’s where I draw the line.

I do believe in looking at as many sides of an issue as you can, in seeing how a difficult person can fit in my life and if it’s too disruptive, how to comfortably deal with that and not cause harm to my immediate family.  I will never avoid someone because of their marital status, legal sexual proclivities (it’s none of my business), sexual orientation, their opinion about abortion access, contraception use and when it’s allowed, beliefs about sex before marriage, race, politics, religion, age, mental state, physical state, drug usage, their fondness for alcohol, gambling habits, spending habits, the list goes on. 

I may not like what someone is doing, it may not be anything I would do myself, but I will never hold it against them unless they are harming people.  But if they ask, and I can help with getting help, I will. It hurts me to think there are people who just can’t be in my life because they are nasty to me or mine.  It also makes me sad that people can be mean to those they should be compassionate to but there’s nothing I can do to change peoples’ opinions of me or any one else.  It has to be them opening their hearts to learn to accept differences in others. If there’s anything that bothers me the most in this life, it’s that. 

I’d rather be alone than tolerate verbal abuse and meanness.  I’ve left jobs and relationships because of that crossed line but all things considered, that’s a pretty low bar.  If I have a wish it’s that people remove societal, religious or personal glasses and look at people for who they are. I like to think they’d be surprised and maybe learn to love someone they didn’t think they could before. 

For me it’s these differences that makes relationships so interesting and broadens my perspective.  That’s a good thing I believe.  Being open to questioning rules and convention is how growth happens.  Rules and convention are meant to fit a certain time and place and it is only right that as changes happen those rules be revised or even tossed out if they are no longer necessary.  It’s for this reason that while I am spiritual, I walked away from organized religion.  Until it shows the compassion that is preached and the followers have empathy for everyone, I consider it to be too hypocritical for my taste.  But that’s me.  Feel free to follow whatever religion (or none) if you choose to, even if it’s the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  Just don’t force me to follow your rules.  My missing two lived every inch of their lives being themselves no matter what.  I am proud of them for that.

My son and his father didn’t have a religious bone in their bodies.  And that’s fine.  We respect that and we will arrange a celebration of life when the snow has melted and the summer sun has warmed the earth, flowers and trees in full bloom, when life is present. The earth and water won’t take their ashes right now so we heal ourselves and wait.

There’s a lot of waiting right now.  For documents sent to the no longer existing address that’s been forwarded to me or my daughter, depending who the mail is addressed to.  For answers to questions we can’t easily solve.  There’s a lot of cold fact stuff, applications, dealing with banks and various accounts, CRA.  So far the bank has been the worst.  Important information like what the email address associated with the account was so that I’d know which of the several email accounts that I know of for my son was his main one weren’t allowed to be given to me.  I asked for a one-year statement.  No dice.  Privacy act.  Even repeatedly saying, he’s dead and everything went in the fire didn’t phase them. CRA isn’t much better, I wasn’t able to answer the qualifying questions because again, the fire burned everything so I filled in a form, made myself a representative (but can’t link his account yet) and I have no idea what is in his My Account.  So yeah. 

How do you explain to people that this name or number was my son, the child I gave birth to and held in my arms and helped him grow up?  That there is no way possible to say how it feels to lose a child, when he was just starting his adult life, still discovering who he is? You can’t.  But this unknowable feeling is what I am going through right now and it is my life sentence.

For now though my main thing has been processing all of the memories – both good and bad – that suddenly rise up in my mind.  Lovely mommy things, sweet moments of a friendship and a marriage when things were still good, and the flip side, when things didn’t go so well with both them.  Maddening things.  Things that can never be resolved. 

When I go to sleep and if I wake in the middle of the night, I think about the fire, the two of them, what might have happened, how could it be they didn’t just open that big window in my son’s room and jump out….circular thoughts that lead to remembering more moments that were buried and some of the more unpleasant things in our relationships.  I have 9 hour sleeping times when it’s particularly bad, 7 if I’m able to brush it aside and go back to sleep.  Yes, there’s nightmares too.  I have PTSD, have had from before this and here it is, showing itself in all it’s glory. Someday soon I will talk to a professional again to help me deal with it. But for now, I have been spending my time doing whatever it takes to be functional in the world again, to hold conversations without crying, to laugh and make jokes more often.  Slowly the sharpness of the pain is fading and this past week I felt almost normal.

More normal means facing the world again, going back to work, dealing with difficult people, not taking sharp words as daggers but more like annoying pin pricks.  Nothing personal, just business.  Soon.

While I will always have unfinished business with my son, my own I will try to continue.  Paintings, five books, two or three illustrated videos of my work that I’ve been planning, the rest of my life.  One moment at a time, one breath at a time, stretching I hope into happy years.  Hope. 

Hope for myself, hope for my family still here, hope that light will eventually break through the darkness.  My quiet days of coming to grips with the loss and turning into acceptance.  I will never forget, as much as I have never forgotten those gone before.  You never do “get over” such a loss.  It just gets less difficult, and that happens more quickly when the stress isn’t too much.  For me, that’s usually people. I can’t ask people to change, but I can try to be understanding.  I wish the same for you, and –

That if you can’t be loving, at least be kind.

Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances.  Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth.  It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes.  Love never comes to an end. 1st Corinthians 13: 4-8

© Catherine M. Harris, March 5, 2023


I Want To Believe

I want to believe that
All of this makes sense
That life in the past tense
Is something I can breathe in
Is somewhere I can feel whole
‘Cause right now most of me
Is missing and there is no way
To fill it because what is missing
Is you.

I want to believe that 
There is a greater purpose 
For this because right now
All of this isn’t how it was
Supposed to be but then
Did I ever know the
Future when the present
Was a question mark
Most of the time
All I know is until now
At least I had you.

These are words telling you
I cannot see tomorrow
But I can see yesterday so clearly
I can almost touch it
Yet I can’t and I
Never will again
Tomorrow you aren’t in it.

So let me just remember
For this small instant of time
Before demands of living 
Pull me from my sudden stupor
Grieving as much for what is gone
Than what will not come to be
Most of all I mourn the part of me
That is and was 
All of you.

January 23, 2023 © Catherine M. Harris

Cathi’s Comment December 31, 2022


I almost didn’t write this, but then thought, why break a thing that’s been going on for ages?  The main reason I didn’t want to is that this year has been a mixture of pretty good, tiresome, very long hours, looking forward and trying hard to not look back.  Confusing right?

I’ve just been very busy with work and trying hard to fit my own life in between.  The good news is the dust is settling a little bit that way and I am back in the physical office one day a week; that’s going to be changing and that’s something to work my life around more going forward I guess.

I did some repairs on the house, fixing a leaking washer drain pipe and the hose as well, and we worked on a small French drain system around a part of the house that leaks into the basement from the slope of the road to the house.  That took most of the summer but it’s done and while I still have some work to do on the inside with patching up between cinder blocks in a couple of areas, the main concern seems to be dry. 

The van, 13 years old this year proved to be a little too finicky to my taste so that became a pretty decent trade in for a Nissan.  I can safely say that car technology has changed a lot in the last 13 years and we’re still learning all the features but so far it’s a pretty good vehicle, and I find it much easier to park since it’s an SUV instead of a large van.  I am so grateful that this year I could actually replace that van.  It wasn’t long ago that I couldn’t afford to fix the van and rent a car to drive for the two weeks it was being repaired.  So I am appreciative for this little interlude of being able to fix things, replace things and pay off things because I know these periods of stability tend to be fleeting.  I hope the next reason will be because I can finally feel comfortable retiring for good but I’m also a realist, life has a way of throwing monkey wrenches when you feel at ease so I’m enjoying each good day while they last.

I didn’t do nearly the amount of writing and painting I had planned at this time last year, but on the up side, I’ve managed to read more books than last year and I am working on two more paintings.  One is an oil painting, the other (still in sketch on canvas stage) will be acrylic and they will indeed get finished in 2023.  That I promise.

My books sadly haven’t progressed much, I need to be in the right mind space, however I did write some poetry so that’s okay.  I will get going on these soon, I just don’t want to pressure myself into finishing because creative works need to come freely otherwise they seem forced.

A highlight this year was showing Jim PEI.  I didn’t get to swim in the ocean because it was raining but it was a pleasure visiting the island of some of my ancestors again and seeing the Van Gogh interactive exhibit which was good but also a little weird being in a room of people after 2 years of covid restrictions.  Still, it was fun and we loved it.  Next year maybe Nova Scotia coming back through PEI?  We’ll see.

2022 was such a volatile year in the world view that I don’t want to focus on that and at the same time I’d be remiss not saying anything.  So let me just say this:  to the people of Ukraine, my heart goes out to you.  I truly wish that 2023 is the year that you realize your dreams of regaining peace and sovereignty.  The death of Queen Elizabeth, while not a total surprize was very much the end of an era and for me brought back a lot of memories of my mom who was of the same age range as the Queen.  Where the royal family goes from here is hard to say but I’m thinking they have got to be more in touch with how people are today if they want to remain relevant going forward. 

In world affairs there’s just too much division and the back pedaling of human rights is especially worrisome.  Speak up.  Loudly.  Please don’t let the gradual erosion of human rights and the politicization of practically everything spread any more.  It’s dangerous and we will see more war breaking out if this continues.  So let’s dial back the mean and find a bit of heart if you can, and I know you can.  We all can.  We need to.  I’m serious about this.  The middle ground is very wide and it doesn’t take much for people on the edges to just step sideways a little and listen to something other than their own beliefs.  When politics or religion come to a point that they are pushing away the people closest to you, maybe take a beat and consider that there might not be one “right” way of being.  How about we make 2023 the year we celebrate each other’s differences, coming together in common ground because somewhere in that is where the truth that suits most of us lies.  And that’s where we should be, not trying to shoe horn people into what just may not be the answer for them. 

Equally worrisome for me is going backwards where progress has been made at a societal level, regardless of the reason why changes were made, temporary or not, it doesn’t matter.  If something works now that didn’t before why not keep it and move on in that direction?  It’s called growth.  I am concerned that at a time of labour shortages and high costs of everything, removing flexibility in living our lives will force people to make decisions about their lives – from having to move back from affordable places to high cost places to be on the job, to (mostly) women having to choose between their career or staying home because childcare isn’t as available as it once was and adds a huge cost to people who may just be making it with mom working from home – this same scenario goes for people caring for disabled or elderly family members.  What worked before covid just might not fly now and I do hope that businesses see that.  Empty office buildings can be turned into affordable downtown housing, remote work expands the work force for many occupations, people not crammed into public transportation twice a day five days a week are likely going to be healthier…the list goes on.  Let’s not lose sight of what could be by trying to erase the past of couple of years, time goes forward not back.  Please let’s remember that.

I want to end this message on a happy note so let me say this:  I have faith in the goodness of people, of the resilience and the kindness of people.  Let’s make 2023 the year we stop giving oxygen to people who are trying to drag us down.  The majority (and we are) deserve better.  Let’s make this the year we turn the darkness of 2022 around and show what light we can bring to each other.  It starts with compassion, and that starts with you and with me.

Happy New Year, à la prochaine,


Predictions for 2023

Continuing in what I guess is now my tradition of posting predictions at the end of the year, I’m going to start with the process.  Basically what I do is get in a relaxed meditative state.  This includes candles lit for ambiance, quiet (that’s essential, I use earplugs), a burning stick of incense (whichever scent suits my mood at the moment).  I concentrate on breathing and clearing my mind.  Then I think about Dec. 31, 2023 and what news I’ve seen and read over 2023.  That’s it.  Anybody can do it – feel free to try.  It may just be flight of imagination or it could be intuition or psychic skills.  Regardless, even if I’m way off, it is can be enlightening trying to picture what a year from now will look like.

And now I’m going to say that I hope that this year’s rather darker glimpses are me being worried about how things are right now, I am an optimist at heart so this time I hope I’m mostly wrong.  As always I say to take this with a boulder of salt, I do not claim for this to be anything other than an exercise. 

The fun thing about it is that sometimes what I see actually does happen.  If you want to check and see the previous years they are on this site’s Predictions page.  I don’t update them after I post unless it’s immediately after for a missed spelling mistake and the most recent edit date is shown at the end of the post. The numbers on these are not in particular rank, it’s just how the thoughts come to me.

  1. Accident to a royal family member – looks like self-inflicted car crash due to drinking to excess – Andrew?
  2. Mid-year – Camilla may need some serious medical care.
  3. Volcanic activity and earthquakes ramping up as part of a longer earth change cycle.
  4. Difficult times ahead financially for many people.    Even the super-wealthy will have some concerns about the availability of certain foods.  Part of the problem is weather, and also war.
  5. Ukraine continues to fight.  Will eventually be successful at staying independent but it’s not without more loss unfortunately.
  6. Putin’s days as leader are numbered.  The public is waking up to the reality that they are pawns in a game they don’t necessarily want to be a part of anymore.
  7. There will be many more riots and social unrest across the globe.  The more that leaders try to put a thumb on their people and keep them in line while taking many things they need to survive, be it human rights or social safety nets, people have had enough.  This will be happening everywhere in the world.
  8. In countries where socialism is touted as a dirty word there are people saying that people need to care about one another and it can’t be without a common good way of thinking in government too.  A lot of the selfishness that bloomed in the 1980s onward is fading away as greed is not sustainable.  Ultimately there will be new ways of governing that includes social safety nets – the public will demand them.  This is following some very hard lessons related to a depression, weather, and economic faltering.
  9. Banking systems, credit systems also will be called upon to do less gouging and be more responsible in how they treat their customers.
  10. Utilities (and internet will be considered a utility soon if not in 2023) there is a push to mandate utilities be accessible for all – too many people are losing their lives with no electricity or running water in a last-ditch attempt to pay for rising food costs.
  11. As the cost of living goes up, house prices will fall because rising mortgage rates and food and utility prices with salaries not keeping pace force many to give up their houses.  This easing of the housing market will cause house prices to fall to more reasonable rates.  Part of it is that the wealthy investors buying real estate just to make a profit will start unloading those house/condos/land, especially foreign owners as financial markets tighten.  In the long run it’s good because eventually people will be able to have the dream of home ownership as a routine thing again but not without a lot of financial dumping from wealthy people.
  12. More countries will enact taxes on super wealthy people – the countries need it and there will be fewer tax havens and breaks.
  13. Trump will be charged with more legal charges however his health remains an issue – he many not be able to stand trial in the fall (which it looks like he will have to appear for some of the many things he’s about to be charged with).
  14. Disease remains an issue as the pandemic continues with different strains being created.  So the push to get rid of telework that seems to be gaining ground will need to be rethought and the cost of maintaining all the real estate for offices becomes harder to justify even to those who have been demanding a back to normal approach.  The problem is that things aren’t normal and they never will be normal as it was before the pandemic again.  It can’t be.  For one thing workers who can’t afford to go into work and all the associated costs may give up their jobs for something else, even to live off the land.
  15. Communal living that is self-sustaining is making a comeback as an idea, similar to the 60s communes but more because people realize that it may be better just to try to live off the land and generate their own utilities.  People can be educated anywhere now as long as there’s internet so this idea of not being “owned” so to speak is gaining ground. We’ll see more of this idea coming to the foreground by fall of 2023 as trust in governments, banking systems, etc., falls.  People are beginning to think they can do it better based on their own beliefs.
  16. The division in society, however much distained by most middle ground people persists and this could well lead to civil war in places you’d never think it would happen.  The definition of democracy itself is changing.  It will be some time before a modern version that fits the reality of the 2000s comes into a clearer focus so the divisions become more entrenched.  It may feel like people can say nothing right for fear of offending one side or the other so the middle majority who simply want to keep the peace will stay silent and look quietly for ways to bring all the sides to understand the meaning of consensus and common ground.
  17. It’s not all doom and gloom.  There are some break throughs in energy generation and in health care that will bring a bright light.  Cancer vaccines, home power generation that is affordable, home gardening, all these things make life a little better.
  18. People are looking more at ways to obtain goods and services without traditional banks and credit, will stay away from things like crypto and will consider better ways to pay like bartering or communal living or even community gardens and the like – updated to 21st century ways.
  19. Religion is losing more followers as it appears to perpetuate cruelty and divisions and so many people are tired of that.  Uprisings will continue in Iran and there will be more like it elsewhere where religion or ideology are turning people to be willing to fight for human rights and freedom over oppression for a collective reason.  China, North Korea, Afghanistan, none of these places are immune from the uprisings.  With economic and weather disasters comes the need to be able to live their lives the best they can – all people, not just some.
  20. In times of difficulty is when beauty in the form of art, literature, music blossoms. 2023 will see a lot of new and wonderful artists worldwide expressing themselves.
  21. It’s important to remember that what we are going through now worldwide is growing pains towards the next way of being. There is a lot that should go by the wayside and that’s the thing.  Eventually the dust will settle as it must do.  So in the meantime people will continue to hope and to strive towards a better way because we have to, it’s what keeps happening throughout history.
  22. Focus on forgiveness – a trend that will be gaining momentum throughout the year as people try to bring back some peace and stability.
  23. In Canada the summer will be hot and drier than the previous year – wildfires in the west and central regions, more hurricanes on the east coast than last year with stretches of dry weather in between.  A moderate earthquake in Eastern Ontario/Western Quebec will make news around June it looks like.

Here we are, and remember this is an exercise, so please, try this yourself and see what you get.

Catherine M. Harris © Dec. 26, 2022.

Midnight’s Daughter

Didn’t I tell you
That in times of quiet
Deep inside the void
Of midnight and the razor
Blade orange of daybreak
Is where you’ll find me
Midnight’s daughter
Blanketed in the still and 
Gentle hush
Before the moon
Fades as it must

I can’t tell you
Where my thoughts stray
Nimble as they are
They too breathe 
A sigh -
I can think when
No one else is watching
I can dream
While everyone lies sleeping
What I can’t do 
Is tell you why

I can tell you
Words spoken
Not received
Sentences of who
I was
Doesn’t matter
In the new day
But I never could
Hope you would listen
Could I

Time is a thief
It steals naïveté
It steels the heart
Chilling the soul
But the secret is
Not always yours to have
It can leave lessons
It can gift sagacity
Presents of experience
Blessed memories
A balance I suppose

I should tell you 
As I get older
Some things I’ve lost
Patience for
Other things I miss
I might add
Sometimes the weight
Of emotion still remembered
Both lift me up
And anchor me

So can you tell me
How do you recall
Joy without the 
Darkness in between
Tenderly I’m stepping
Over shards of broken glass
To reach that inner solace
In the eye of the hurricane
I hold you close
Do you feel that in the vortex
Of forgotten instances
In time

What more I can tell you is
On the wind of what has been and gone
I place these haunted memories
Disperse them as it will and 
If in some distant moment
Perhaps a scent or sound of music
Fleetingly brings me to your mind
Just know that regardless
Of how or why our paths digressed
I never will regret
The time I’ve spent

In memories with you.


©Catherine M. Harris, in the depths of the early morning darkness, Oct. 23, 2022
All rights reserved

I Propose a New Prayer

Lord make us the
Sharers of love
Bestowers of compassion
Keepers of peace
And by peace it is 
One that is shown
For all persons
Not merely some.

Let us be the
Forgivers of our
Human ways
Sometimes faltering
Oftentimes unknowing
But willing to say sorry
Then move on.

Let us forgive others
Of everything we don’t
Understand or like
For we are not them
And will never know
Fully their reasons why –
Realizing it is not
Our place to judge.

Let us respect
The things we don’t
Comprehend even if
We’d never do that
Ourselves, may we
Keep silent on 
Differences for 
There is no one
Right way in life
And we
Accept that.

Let us affirm now
There is no 
One true religion
Correct culture
Hue of skin
Body type
Partner preference
That is better
Than any one other.

Let us put away our
Petty grievances
Bitterness and
Remembering that
Today’s glory can be
Tomorrow's agony
Therefore we must be kind
To those who are currently 
Less or more ostensibly
Than us.

Let us be such that
If we are unable to be
The community icon
Let us be thankful
For what we have
Doing no harm
Leaving no damage
Appreciative always.

Let us silently
Carefully live out our
Lives being the person
We think others should be
Living the example 
Allowing others to
Show their own light
Their own way.

Let us say thanks for today
Leaving yesterday behind
Looking forward 
Planning our path
The kindest way onwards.

I propose a new prayer
To unite us as one
One world
One people
Honouring our uniqueness
Conquering division
With our words and our deeds
Putting down weapons
Rejecting cruelty in 
All its forms
Today and every day.

Universal spirit
May we remember that we
Are ourselves spirit 
Therefore tiny 
Devine parts
Of the whole
Of what is.


©Catherine M. Harris 24-07-2022

Hold Up Now

Do you think 
Banning abortion
Is a wonderful thing?
Hold up.

Have you never 
Borne a child?
Hush up.

Are you not 
A woman?
Shut up.

Are you wealthy 
And secure?
Hush up.

Do you have all the 
Support you need?
Shush up.

Are you trying to resurrect some
Utopian view of decades past that
Never really existed?
Shut up.

Are you a politician garnering votes
Regardless of your own belief 
Or experience?
Shut up.

Do you think denying someone a 
Health decision because of their 
Gender is progressive?
Shut up.

Do you think that pulling back rights
Will stop right here on 
This one issue?
Wake up.

Do you thinks this will stay 
Within your 
Wake up.

Do you think your vote 
Doesn't count?
Wake up.

Do you think that this
Oppression will end here?
Wake up.

Do you think that only
Sluts and hoes 
Will be affected?
Grow up.

Do you think this will
Mean happy families and
Grow all the way up.

Do you think your voice
Doesn't count?
Speak up.

Do you think you can't 
Change anything?
Speak up.

Do you have the heart to 
Allow a person to make 
Their own decision?
Speak up.

Do you think this is 
The Way Forward and
The Future, hurray?
Listen up.

Everything is wonderful,
Every choice has its
Alter ego.
Every decision
A fall out.

Listen up
And remember
This is only
A beginning.

So please,

(c) Catherine M. Harris 25-06-2022
with props to Margaret Atwood, 
who saw this coming in her way.

Soixante et Vous

It took me until
I was 40
For people to 
Listen to me.

Before that
I was just pretty
With a brain bigger
Than my boobs
That nobody
Cared for
Maybe not
Even myself.

They weren’t 
Interested really
In what I had to say
Take away the allure
That drives the boy out
What do you know?

Now that I’ve
Blown out
The flame
On my 60th candle
I don’t have to
Explain myself
Anymore or
At least 
Most of the time.

So if you think
This is where I
Exit stage left
Sorry to say
You’re quite
My friend
This is where
I get to soar
In my own way
Unfettered, real.

There’s only so much
Time and I’ve
Used far too much
Turning the 
Other cheek
Consider this
My fifth one
I’ll just keep on
Carrying on
Doing as I please
Now that the
Choice and
The voice
Is my own.

Here’s to what
The future holds
I hear
It’s simply

© Catherine M. Harris
May 14, 2022

Our Wedding and Other Miracles

Here it is, a creative non-fiction piece I wrote in 1988 after my wedding, go figure. The whole situation was so ridiculous I couldn’t not write this. Anyway the reason I’m posting it here is because it’s a reminder I need to finish my essays book and publish it, and also because I submitted this as a first paragraph to a radio contest just for fun. My disclaimer is: yes, I’m crazy, this really happened and all the people involved in it are real with names changed to protect the guilty. What can I say but I told you so?


The matron-of-honour was keening rapturous wails while clutching my shoulder for balance. The Groom was quivering gently beside me that fine snowy day in mid-April. The Minister stood bedecked in his finery intoning those last fatal words:

Those Whom God Hath
Put Asunder
Let No Man
Join Together…

Wisely I heeded sundry prophets of doom and married a little later than average. That I am now married at all is still a bit of a surprise to me; however, I did live to call myself a Missus. So, at the expense of persuading a few singles to forgo their own nuptials, I tell you my tale.

It started so innocently with my boyfriend of five years pronouncing that he was being transferred to Mississauga in a little under six weeks. During a fit of nostalgia at our favourite tavern, perhaps egged on by the mention that my mother had several prospective husbands lined up, with a delicately trembling hand, he took mine in his and gasped, “Wanna get married?” With tomblike gravity, my response was a quick and decisive utter silence. “Take your time.” he told me, so I did.

After half an hour of maniacal giggling and catatonic wall-staring, my dearly beloved announced, “I have to go to the can.”

Five minutes later, I brushed off the cobwebs, sipped some tepid wine and followed him to the bowels of the restaurant. As I descended, there in the shadows at the foot of the stairs emerged my intended.

In a wave of impetuous affirmation, I fell into his arms and whispered a firm, “Uh huhn.”

I’d like to say that at this treasured moment a choir of angels sang and flowers rained down from above. But the angels were singing for some other lovers and all that rained down on our blissful kissing was projectile vomit that flew past our heads from a woman who lurched down the stairs.

Now lesser souls might have taken that as an omen of what was to come, but not us. Instead we began our plan of attack. First there was the sticky problem of telling everyone that no, we are not crazy, and yes, we really intend to do this. My father was of some concern to me since he held the firm belief that if I really wanted to I should have children but, “for God’s sake don’t get married!” As for the others there was the inevitable “you pregnant?” which we expected after the length of time we adamantly refused to get married or even live together.

There was also two apartments, two cats, a piano I’d had mouldering in storage for four years and of course, the delightful chore of telling my wholly disliked employers that they could stick it. Also there was the matter of finding an apartment in an area where only dead relatives and lottery winnings will ensure you a place to live. And last but not least was the question of where and by whom we’d get married.

Telling people was the easiest part. Everybody loves to see others get themselves into the same mess they’ve been in and so they were delighted. Friends and relatives from near and far were happy to come to the wedding to see this for themselves. A Minister was found in the form of my brother-in-law’s brother and the church where I had once sung in the choir provided the place.

Now came the dirty work. While my fiancé was apartment-hunting I had one week to pack up five year’s accumulated detritus from my apartment. We decided that it would be better for me to move to his place before the wedding which left me cheerfully attending to a myriad of details, lunches and meetings at work, things to buy and movers to coordinate.

Our local charity organization would pick up the furniture, and yes, it was all in good condition, sort of. They came the day before the movers and after an opera of expletives about the front stairway, they decided there was no room for the couch. Instead, one particularly avaricious helper was entranced by a waterbed I was planning to throw out. Sure he could take it; of course it was in mint condition. Except for the two supports I forgot to tell him didn’t exist any more. Just slipped my *%&! mind. Honest.

The boxes came forty-eight hours before the move, and at midnight the day after, I ran out. In desperation I crammed all my left-overs into garbage bags; with a living room that resembled your basic town dump, I finished my packing at dawn. My movers were friendly, efficient and late; they worked wonders but not miracles. They didn’t have room for the couch. Mario, if you read this, sorry about the poor lonely behemoth I left in your living room…

Suffice to say that the apartment-hunting trip is a story in itself, best left for my husband to tell. After one false start and two and a half month’s rent deposit, we weren’t going to have to live in the parking lot of Pearson International after all. Mildly exasperated, he returned home triumphant only to find that the woman he left just barely resembled the simpering wraith that awaited him. You see there was a wee problem with the church…

I will confess here and now that neither my intended nor I were avid church-goers in the past; in fact, I never quite got around to getting confirmed. My taller half had never been baptised and was raised in a different church. No matter, we were both Christians. We just didn’t have thirty days to post the banns. Barring a marriage in the middle of Bank Street by a justice of the peace, we decided to go for a dispensation from the Bishop.

As Norman Mailer could tell you, waiting for a dispensation from the Bishop is much akin to waiting for the Governor’s word on the eve of the dawn of your execution. With promises of hurried marriage preparation meetings, post-marriage courses and assurances there was absolutely no way we would get married two weeks after we moved (what? you want us to live in sin for a month? Shame on you!) we were finally, two weeks before D-Day, given dispensation.

Our meetings with the Minister were delightful except that I would burst into laughter every time the word troth was uttered. You see, my first reaction to hearing “I give you my troth” was where can I get one? With visions of little hairy fang toothed troths dancing in my head, any mention of a troth was enough to get the giggles started.

Complimentary banns were read the Sunday before the wedding at the request of my mother. Naturally we attended one of these services. After vowing – and yes, believing – that any offspring to this union should partake in religious training, this was a good refresher course in church activities for both of us, and a source of considerable admiration by all. And the bets were heating up nicely on whether I’d break out laughing at “I give you my troth” during the service.

The week before was a joy of coordination. The Matron-of-Honour, living in Philadelphia, came to Ottawa the day after being a Matron-of-Honour at another wedding. Now this was also the city where she had lived with her late husband shortly before he died; she hadn’t been back since, but for the delight of seeing us married (and as for the wager on that, Russell, wherever you are, you won) twenty-two teams of wild horses would not have stopped her coming. Those same horses would not have stopped my fiancé’s mother and grandmother either; they had long since given up on his ever getting married. But I digress.

The cats were getting along fine, all and sundry were in various stages of ecstasy, the gynaecologist had his grope and our Matron-of-Honour was stepping off the plane. The wedding rings were bought, thankfully, by a generous donation from my aunt.

Four days before the wedding, my dress (yes, the real thing) was bought on sale in one hour. The next day was shopping with my Matron for everything else and getting into arguments with salesclerks and waiters. My intended meanwhile was arranging for a loan with the bank to help pay for the move. Despondent, he returned with the verdict that without collateral no one can get a loan and without a loan no one can get collateral. The employee counsellor at his work put it most wisely; moving and changing jobs is right up there with getting married in terms of stress. His face said it all when my working half told him he was also getting married. He knew whereof he spoke. Wait, it gets better.

In our last week of frantic activity, grandmother, mother, aunts, uncles, sister and brother-in-law complete with nephews began arriving. Ma Bell is still enjoying this and I’m sure Blue Line Taxi is still thanking its blessings. You see, our not having a car meant that it was also necessary to arrange our transportation to and from the church, something that occurred to us the day before the wedding.

The last two days were the greeting of relations, the packing of bags, the long nights of heartfelt discussion with anyone but my almost-husband. I had not gotten to the stage where I was wondering “who is this person?”, but getting awfully close to “what the hell am I doing?” Everyone involved naturally had their own ideas of what should be done and everyone contradicted the other. Small things like what brand of champagne to buy suddenly became issues of monumental proportions; for example the realization that one magnum of champagne couldn’t possibly serve 32 people for a toast, which occurred to us the night before. This critical situation was nicely solved by the intervention of our “missing link.”

The whole procedure being such a hurried affair, it came right down to the wire when we realized we still had NO BEST MAN. Attempts had been made, sure, but travelling persons and unanswered phone messages do not a best man create. Finally, two days before Ground Zero he was found in the personage of a long time good friend. In the amount of time given, we can only say that he did his job admirably. This man deserves an award.

Day One was a delight and everyone was up for it. The phone was surgically removed from my ear in time for the rehearsal and all parties concerned were at the church before it was unlocked. The torrential downpour was really refreshing.

Once inside the church, all of us giddy from too little time and not enough sleep, the jokes came fast and furious. The Minister, meanwhile, tried desperately to keep things in some semblance of propriety. The Matron-of-Honour remarked that the Mets were playing the next day, so we concurred that the wedding should be postponed on account of the Mets. By this time our Minister could only shake his head and regard us with baleful eyes. At the trading of the troths the proceedings ground to a halt with everyone, including our poor beleaguered pastor, laughing so hard we were crying.

Wine on top of the lack of sleep and high emotions made for a very interesting post-rehearsal dinner-and-meeting-of-the-grandmother. We tried, really tried, to behave ourselves but things did get a little out of hand. One such moment begs to be repeated: the tradition of not seeing the bride before the wedding flew out the window with our sanity. When grandmother remarked that we shouldn’t see each other, our Matron quipped, “Why not? They’ve been sleeping together for the last two weeks.” Needless to say, Grandma nearly fell off her chair with that one. Our idiocy was reaching gargantuan proportions.

Dinner over, the rehearsal group retired to our apartment for toasts to tomorrow. Of course it was tomorrow by the time the toasts were finished. Living on adrenaline and hysteria we went to bed just in time to get up.

The alarm clock rang with the subtlety of an air raid siren. Time for Armageddon. After five cups of coffee and countless cigarettes, I went to get my hair done. Apres french braids, the flowers arrived and then came the dressing. Our Matron was quietly lurking around taking X-rated pictures to kill time. We weren’t nervous at all, just shell-shocked.

At last the cars arrived and amid a slight blizzard we were off to the church. The groom was ushered there by a psychiatrist; meanwhile Matron and father were plotting possible escape routes and getting pretty emotional, complete with lectures on sex from the bride.

At the church our psychiatrist (every wedding should have one – I highly recommend it) quietly passed around prescriptions of Doctor’s Own – little sample bottles of Cutty Sark. Pockets bulging, we retreated to the church library to await the arrival of the groom to the altar.

One o’clock came. No sign of the groom at the altar. One ten arrived. Groom, but no bride. One fifteen: bride, father and Matron-of-Honour are running down the aisle with the song “Can you hear that funky dixie land? Pretty Mamma’s gonna take you by the hand. By the hand! Hand! Take you by the hand!” playing in our heads.

The service began beautifully and everything was going as planned. Soon I could hear heaving sobs to the left of me. A hand began massaging my left shoulder. Looking over, my Matron was standing in a torrent of tears. The groom glanced over, smiled, and we waited for the troths. No laughter here. Fine.
The licences were signed, the end was nigh. A sombre Minister intoned, “Those whom God hath put asunder, let no man join together.” This is a moment of comic relief truly meant to be savoured.

The service over, we forgot to kiss, raced down the aisle, down the stairs that eventually led up to the church annex where the reception was being held. From the depths of the church came a thundering “YEE HAH!!!” compliments of our Matron-of-Honour. The celebrations began.

Our reception was short and sweet, much enjoyed by all. We hitched a ride to the train station in a taxi and soon were off to four days of feverent honeymooning.

Now most people would think that our honeymoon went well, replete with joy every living moment. Well, it certainly was memorable. Stay tuned for the sequel, “Robert Bourassa, the night the lights went out in Montreal and the Honeymooner’s Guide to Pharmacopoeia in Quebec.”

Names of the living have been omitted to protect the guilty. Any resemblance to actual events is purely intentional…

The photo was taken the night before the wedding.