This year I am unable to be home with my son for his birthday. I am instead here in Toronto patiently awaiting my visa so that I can join him, my other son, and my husband in Russia. So instead of dwelling on the fact that there will be no birthday party for me to join in, a good friend of mine and I decided to take a trip downtown and lay flowers on a memorial site dedicated to all those who have died in either war or peacekeeping for Canada.
The site was not as we expected. Either we had high expectations, or we had the wrong spot. We had thought at the very least and from what we had read that the “War on Terrorism” memorial would have the names of those that had died for the cause etched into the wall. Instead there was a wall, beautifully etched artwork from past wars, but nothing commemorating Afghanistan and the efforts that are going on there. All over the park there were sculptures as high as the eye could see, one for firefighters, one for policemen, both with names of the fallen. To date we have lost 96 Canadian soldiers to the war in Afghanistan, less than the number of firefighters names etched into numerous marble walls, so certainly there would have been more than enough room on the huge wall that was displaying the depictions of WWI and WWII. Maybe it was something they planned for the future.
It is obvious that my friend and I did not need to put an etching to remember those we lost. Instead we placed our flowers, sat back, and remembered. For those we knew, and for those we didn’t. I am almost glad that no name was there to be read, for that would have meant reading something that was already etched in my head.
Yesterday was a celebration of Robbie’s 13th birthday, him becoming a teenager, him growing up and becoming a young man. It was a celebration of his life thus far and all that is to come.
Yesterday was a celebration of Chris, Gilles, Shane, Shawn, the other thirteen soldiers who never made it home during my six months stay in Afghanistan, and those three young soldiers that coincidently lost their lives yesterday. Yesterday was a celebration of their lives, their deaths, and those they left behind.
Today, I say CHIMO once again, for CHIMO in greeting or in goodbye, means FRIEND.