"I just wanna live while I'm alive...cause it's my life..."
- Bon Jovi. 2000.
Not too long ago I finally had real "triumph" in the long trek that I was forced to take as a result of Darcy’s death and the circumstances that surround it. My case to have him declared “Presumed Dead” was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada in late August and I won. Let me say that again… I WON. Wow. What a fucking prize.
As you surely know by now, one day in September 2020, after quarantining because of a supposed case of Covid19, my husband left the house for a drive and never came home. Worse is that no one was really looking for him in the right places until almost nine days later and so it is widely presumed that wherever he had his accident or fall, he landed in the rushing river and was swept out to sea… and because, as of yet, there has been no body recovered, he has not technically been considered “dead”. That’s right. For almost a year, I lived with the memory of a physically dead, yet, alive-on-paper husband. Can you imagine the logistics of that? Allow me to describe some of them…
I cannot, legally, open his mail. He has a production company running with ongoing bills to be paid that I cannot access. I cannot change our phone plan, utility bills, access his credit cards to make sure that any irrelevant auto-payments are stopped. I cannot renew the car insurance on ANY of our vehicles which are all in his name or the company name. I have had no access to 25 years of investments in the high-risk stock which he enthusiastically managed and day-traded by himself and which represents our whole life savings and retirement. (This was extra stressful with a volatile and looming USA election pending at the time of his death. That can really fuck with the market, just sayin.)
I cannot do his personal or corporate taxes and therefore the government has cut off my only income – the Canada Child Benefit – because our monthly household income cannot be determined, and there is NO email address for me to contact someone about it. In July 2021, the age of email, I had to write them a LETTER! A letter to which no one has responded to since I mailed it in July. But the government has our backs, right?! (What is someone to do if they have no access to any money to feed their kids or keep a roof over their heads much less fund a Supreme Court hearing? What if I didn’t have English or French as a first language to help me communicate? Yikes.) As we speak, Darcy is getting penalized for said taxes being long overdue. What’s a widow to do?!
I have no access or right to claim his life insurance policy, accidental death insurance, RRSP savings…nothing. No dead body equals no rights for me. These are just a few of the treats I have had to deal with so far and let us not minimize the repetitive trauma that comes every time I receive a bill in the mail with his name on it because most days, even though I am an optimist, it still hurts like hell.
If I wasn’t able to take this matter to the courts, the Presumption of Death Act in Canada requires me to wait seven years to have him ‘presumed’ dead and allow me to proceed with paperwork and move forward with my life. SEVEN years! Miller would be graduating from high school and I would still be living in a home that I could not call my own (or sell!) because it was purchased in Darcy’s name before we were married. I’d be sitting with a Last Will And Testament that left everything to me… but I would have no access to these provisions that he lovingly organized to protect me in the unlikely event of his premature death, because legally he wasn’t even dead. No body? Not dead. For seven years. So, I had to prove it to the court.
Nine months of painful preparation of my personal affidavit. A forty-seven page statement of our life together, swearing to his character, his commitment to our family and the impossibility of him potentially having snuck off to Belize with his other, secret wife and family (or any of the other insane ideas that might have been possibilities here). Nine months of excruciating, weekly opportunities to review these forty-seven pages and revisit, again and again, the memories of this beautiful husband, father and human as I compared it to the affidavits of his close friends, colleagues, and my brothers who were his brothers, too. Nine months, approximately thirty-five thousand dollars (so far!) and an infinite amount of extra emotional pain that would have been avoided, had his body been found. But it wasn’t.
The good news is I “won”. Imagine what it feels like to “win” a court case where the best possible outcome is that you get to finally call your husband dead. I get a dead husband and the chance to move forward with the full-time job of paperwork that it takes to collapse a company and swiftly erase a human from existence with every bill paid off, every name changed on a document. That is what I won this year. That is what I was fighting for at the same time as I was living in deep grief, stewarding my kids through theirs while many of the people who knew us would not even hug us or come into our home as a result of the same extreme mandates that sent my husband out for his drive that fateful day. The same mandates that meant, after a week of symptom-free solitary confinement, I personally encouraged him to get out of the house for a breather after being cooped up in a valiant attempt to protect those around him from a virus that he most likely did not even have.
It begs some valid questions. Do you think I am happy we followed those mandates and he didn’t hug me or the kids for the last week of his life? Do you think I look back and feel okay about sending him off with his coffee and virtual fist-bump that morning instead of a kiss? No way. (And I know there are a lot of others who look back at similar situations and feel the same.) But that is what happened and I am still here and I will be damned if I let this story steal my spirit or ruin my life. I just won’t. But I will learn from it. That is a choice I get to make.
Trying to stay attached to the optimist light-worker that is the true essence of me through all this has not been easy but it has been the most important part of my journey. It is the part I am most proud of, too. I have tried to land in gratitude for the tiniest bit of lightness in every dark space – because there IS light everywhere. I have tried not to blame anyone for our misfortune, nor judge those who did not show up for us, rather I try to find the gifts in every challenge that we have faced.
A perfect example of one of these gifts would be my lawyer, David. He guided me through that long journey to the Supreme Court with patience, grace and a sense of humour that helped my heart through the hardest of conversations that I would never wish on anyone. Another challenge was the feeling of disconnection as we suffered our loss with the added conditions of Covid19 mandates. I thank the universe every day for the gift of people that viewed me and my kids as an “essential service” and showed up to be with us, unconditionally, because they actually just loved us too much to not be near us. And none of us got sick.
I know there have been FAR too many people grieving alone during this time of intense separation and division-by-fear, so I am happy to know several people that still listen to their hearts instead of the “news” and “numbers” and show up for each other with love instead of judging their neighbours. I am grateful to my community of friends that includes souls from all backgrounds and professions – from healthcare workers to law enforcement, researchers, teachers, academics and healers. People who choose to educate themselves about the incredible power of their immune systems and their sovereign right to discern all choices pertaining to their own bodies and respect that sovereignty for ALL others as well. I am grateful for those that at least consider the many sides of any story, with compassion, before they begin criticizing others for their choices or flippantly posting memes that might be incredibly hurtful to someone else. I am grateful for those who make the best choice for THEMSELVES, with confidence, not arrogance or the assumption that their choice is the best choice for all. Whatever their choice, THOSE are my people!
It has been a long, difficult year and I told you guys when I started this blog that I would try to find the light in the darkest of times and I have done my best. I do my best to find it every day. It has served me and the kids and the many people who have reached out with their appreciation for my sharing my story with a focus on illuminating all that is wonderful about our life – there is a lot of wonderful – but these times are also very HARD. Made much harder by the division we feel in the world.
I also told you that, when Darcy first died, my soul whispered to me “You already lost him. Don’t lose yourself too.” and I assure you that I don’t intend to lose myself at all. As I move onward and away from the deep sadness of the last year, I am becoming MORE myself every day. I intend to keep loving my neighbours and I intend to use my gifts and our story to help guide others to their own healing in a variety of creative ways because that is what I can do to bring the light. That is what I am called to do.
The first of these creative projects is already here in the form of a new, two-part documentary film which I lent my story and my voice to. My belief in ‘informed choice’ and our right to a more complete set of facts to support healthy choice-making, has called me to participate in the film with the intention of offering a new perspective around this very bleak time in history.
“Love In The Time Of Covid” weaves my family’s story into the facts, data and science of a narrative that has not been widely shared through media across the globe. It is our hope that hearts and minds may open, that the critical thinkers may watch and appreciate that there ARE many sides to every story, and that maybe some of this fear is not actually necessary. We hope that this film will be a tool for many people to share with loved ones who aren’t able to understand or respect their choices yet because they simply didn’t have all the information. We hope that there is a way to restore hearts that have been broken because of extreme confusion and core values getting lost in translation amid the chaos and conditions of our current world.
My heart – always looking for the light – prays that this could be a peaceful way to move away from fighting in the streets, schools AND around our own dinner tables and move toward a more respectful, inclusive and complete conversation, bridging the gap in humanity that is widening daily. Please feel free to watch our film for free. Donate if you can. Share if you feel called.
www.matadorfilms.ca . (Message me with questions or if you need me to re-send the link...)
Watch the teaser....
So when it comes to winning…sometimes it doesn’t feel like much of a win. Winning at my court hearing only resulted in my husband officially being dead. Not awesome. For people who are fighting for their belief that everyone needs to be vaccinated against the deadly killer virus, all they win is a deadly killer virus. Not awesome. And for those people who feel there is an agenda behind the whole pandemic, all they win is a government they cannot trust and paid-off puppets for public health officials. Not an awesome outcome either! NONE of these things are “wins” so maybe we should all stop fighting about the details and start trying to understand each other better.
All we have is this moment in time and it is getting kind of trashed by a global crisis that we seemingly have no control over. But...wait for it...here comes the light...maybe we DO actually have some control here. Maybe we COULD have a win of sorts. If we were willing to listen to all sides of all things, to hear one another’s stories with empathy and share the experiences that lead us to make the choices we do - as I have shared here in my blog and also in this film - then maybe we could get to a better place RIGHT NOW. THAT would be a win! NOW is all we have, friends. We don’t have to wait for herd immunity or the collapse of a corrupt government to determine when we start living and loving again. We can do that NOW. We can have better days, right now. We can feel better together right now. And when we take the time to hear each other and ask to be heard, we all win.
Til Next Time,
Heal & Be Healed.