When eldest daughter left for college I never quite prepared myself for it. It took me totally by surprise that she leaving home might trigger past memories. The second time, last August, when my middle daughter left I was a little more prepared for the separation. What totally blindsided me was how similar my home life would track with 40 years ago. So there we are, me and my youngest daughter: alone at home, her two older siblings off at college. She’s 14: this is exactly me in the Fall of 1978. I didn’t literally get it at first. It was just the feeling of the house. The quiet. The way she behaves is a lot like me then; moody, then funny. Totally independent. She’s just been listening to everything these past 14 years.
The week of late October into November is always such a gut-punch marathon. There’s Halloween, then my brother’s birthday on November 1st. Of course, November 3rd. And then election Tuesday. There was even a Quebec election that weekend in 1978.
Speaking o the horrors of the season, I found this article on Simone Weil which is a balm:
I woke up this morning wondering what that Saturday must have been like in the Eastern Townships 40 years ago. It was a beautiful fall day, like today. The football team had their big game. The owners of that farm in Compton were probably up and out doing weekend things. And in the field adjacent to their farm, there was this beautiful girl lying dead in perfect stillness. Exposed to the elements in her brassiere and underpants. Later that afternoon these two hunters enter the woods near Magog and find women’s clothing resting on a tree trunk.
It seems impossible-improbable that it took 8 days for my parents to be notified she was missing. Ten days for me to be notified, November 11, 1978, Remembrance Day. Then you put on your investigator hat, and when you clock the time, the manner in which events fell out, you understand why it took so long for everyone to wake up.