23 June, 2011

Ten Years

I don't know if I've written about this on this blog at all, but even if I have, this is still an appropriate time to do so again.

Keith Provost 1960-2001
It was ten years ago this weekend that I was sitting on the couch in my tiny apartment in the West End watching a documentary on SPACE (the Canadian equivalent of SyFy).  It was a truly ridiculous documentary about sasquatch hunters.  These guys were so clearly beyond reason that the documentary was pretty much an unintentional comedy.  I knew that it was prime inspirational material for the film that Craig and Keith and I were working on.  I picked up the phone and called Keith.  There was no answer.  I left a message on the answering machine encouraging him to watch the show when it re-aired in six or eight hours, whatever the rotation was.

At that point we had developed the script to a fairly high-functioning treatment (basically a detailed outline with substantial sections of dialogue).  We had the interest of a local producer and things were looking really promising.

Several hours later the phone rang.  It was Janet, Keith's wife.  Janet and I were friendly, but my relationship was clearly with Keith back then.  It was instantly odd that she was calling - the last time she had called me was months earlier, to prepare for Keith's birthday.

Janet told me about the accident.  He was already gone.

I don't know what exactly I said.  "Oh my god, Janet."  Or something equally as shocked and empty.  She asked me if I would make phone calls to get the word out.  Naturally I couldn't turn her down.  That was one of the most difficult tasks I ever had to do.  I did a terrible job of the first call.  I approached it like any other phone call with small talk off the top.  The news totally blindsided the person I called.  I'm still sorry about that, T.  Sure the news was going to blindside anyone, but it was immediately clear that the only remotely "good" way of imparting the news was as immediately as possible.  I did tell one friend to call me when he was home, or at least not in public on his cellphone.  I'd recently been party to a pair of sisters getting bad news about their father on the bus on a cellphone.  The worst part of that experience was the sister who wasn't on the phone was getting the news the same way all us strangers who had unwillingly been pulled into the conversation as eavesdroppers were getting the news.

I called everyone in my phone book who knew Keith, then went into my bedroom and screamed into my pillow for god knows how long.  Somehow I managed to go to work and put in a full shift - though I booked off the next few days.

A friend of mine picked me up from after my shift and took me home to her place and held me all night.  We had been lovers, but that was not on the agenda at this time - we were beyond it.  This was strictly me needing someone to hold me until I was ready to face the first full day without Keith.  I didn't sleep that night.  I just lay in bed. methodically re-playing every moment of my friendship with Keith over in my head.

I still can't believe he is gone some days.  I definitely can't believe it has been ten years - more than twice as long as we were friends.  I am now almost two years older than he ever was.  I cannot look at a photo of him and see an older man.  That seems amazing and even a little impossible to me, but despite that kneejerk reaction, it is true.

I'm alone tonight, no one to hold me.  Jodie and December are visiting grandma.  But I think I'm going to try re-imagining those years when Keith was one of my best friends as best I can.  It has been ten years, it's time to honour him once again.

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