The Storm Before the Calm / by Deborah Clague

The long drive home to Saskatchewan last July presented a sense of finality that other, more seemingly sombre, events had not. Moments of routine like this have become trivial rather than comforting because they, more than anything else, allow my mind the mental stagnation to drift into thoughts I'd rather repress. When an unexpected life event occurs, I wonder how many people decide to make their own grandiose changes just to spite the universe? At times I think I'd love to just walk away from everything and move to France. It would be stupid and impractical at the moment…but then again, so is losing your father and best friend at a time when life seems to be just getting started. The mental gymnastics I use to justify a boldly revised trajectory prophesize that things couldn't get worse, they can only become "different". Uncomfortable, awkward perhaps…but definitely not worse than they are right now. For what it's worth. 

And then, again, another curious instance of what I believe to be fate as I arrived in Regina: the vehicle in front of me – an older model well-suited for this kind of wanton defacement – with the words "Fuck Cancer" on the back window, the typography large enough to see 100 yards away. 

FUCK CANCER.

No asterisks or other less abrasive alternative characters to soften the vulgarity. The letters laid out in all-caps for the masses to experience and be jolted by in full. 

You have to wonder how angry at the universe someone would be to vandalize their own vehicle in this way. 


Before hitting the highway, I took my mother to run errands at one of the numerous big box retail hells in south Winnipeg. This was formerly my father's role but with the current vacancy, I would have to fill an Acting position. My parents were married for 34 years and had dated for nearly a decade on top of that. That's a long history with someone. Based on my calculations and estimated life expectancy (which, because of the poor genes I've inherited, may be abbreviated as well), I will never experience that type of romantic relationship. Not to say that it was always easy; it never is regardless of tenure. But it's a sad realization nonetheless. Even though I've contradicted this sentiment, I wouldn't mind growing old with someone. 

As we walked out of the Wal-Mart Supercentre, I glimpsed something out of the corner of my eye that made me believe I may not grow much older myself: a blue Ford Escape raced towards us, failing to stop or even remotely slow down at the pedestrian crossing in front of the store. My mother shrieked in fright and lept to the side of the road as hurriedly as she could. I stopped dead in my tracks bracing for impact while defiantly raising my hand up in the non-verbal universally understood plea to stop. The vehicle did. And thus the middle-aged male behind the wheel began to curse at me. At least that's what I assumed he was mouthing; he never did roll down his windows but I got the non-verbal universally understood salute of an aggressively pitched middle finger. 

I have no excuse other than the extreme stress that I'd faced for nearly eight months finally finding an appropriate setting for release but I went off on this motherfucker in a way that my actual mother was horrified by (but my father would have been secretly proud of). One need not be overtly sensitive to the fragility of existence to find this lack of regard for human life appalling. I remained in front of his vehicle and didn't move. I couldn't have cared less if he ran me over. At least then his identity would have been revealed to all and shamed in newspaper headlines and the subsequent court proceedings for vehicular manslaughter. I started yelling at him. Loudly. It was my attempt to draw an audience. I wanted everyone within earshot to know that this idiot valued human lives less than his right to race into the Home Depot next door. He continued to yell at me too, although he never did have the balls to roll his windows down. 

Unsure exactly how far this would escalate but feeling more powerful than Xena in the moment, all I could think of as I stood my ground was "I can take this fat, middle-aged ****". 

That word definitely needs to be censored. 


Carrying the weight of stress and depression can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Thankfully I have someone who is willing to help me treat them in as many attempts. In addition to replenishing my wine rack with new and flavourful vintages on a weekly basis, the same close friend has also introduced me to reiki, an alternative medicine practice that is based upon the transfer of positive energy. I had my first treatment last week. Whether placebo effect or actual science, it managed to reinstate a sense of calm that didn't lapse even when I returned to Wal-Mart.  

My dad and I

My dad and I

My mom and I

My mom and I