Colleen Lois Sillito was a mother, an artist, a photographer, a videographer, a yogi, a climber, a fitness enthusiast, and an inspiration to many. She had an innate ability to make you feel like the only person on the planet. She had a knack for allowing you to see yourself through her eyes. Eyes of love, kindness and acceptance. She, was the love of my life and my best friend.
One month ago to the day, the unimaginable happened, Colleen was taken from us in a cowardly act of domestic violence. I refuse to dwell on how she died but I promise you, the story of how she lived will not end here.
Grief is a funny thing. I don’t mean funny ha-ha, I mean funny as in that little son of a bitch sneaks up on you and kicks you in the nuts when you least expect it. It’s like a ninja throat punch hitting you hard while blindfolded.
Grief comes in waves. Sometimes it is a 3 inch tide lapping at your feet. Most of the time you can feel it slowly building, moving to envelop you. Other times it is a 30 foot swell crashing into you so hard that it knocks you on your ass and leaves you gasping for air. There are occasions when it becomes difficult to breathe and all you can do is wait for it to pass.
I don’t share this with you looking for pity, sympathy, sadness or even comfort. I share because I want you to understand. I share because this is my journey and I hope you can learn from my experience.
There are so many lessons that Colleen taught me. There are many that I taught her. And many more that we learned together.
It is the learning together that I think I will miss most. Ha! Who am I kidding, I miss every ounce of her equally but I know that she would want those lessons to carry on. Ram Dass, an American spiritual teacher and author of the seminal 1971 book Be Here Now, writes to grieving parents in his Letter to Rachel:
“Is anyone strong enough to stay conscious through such teaching as you are receiving? Probably very few. And even they would only have a whisper of equanimity and peace amidst the screaming trumpets of their rage, grief, horror and desolation.”
I am determined to stay conscious through this experience.
Colleen and I discussed a lot of philosophical concepts. We would read books, and articles, listen to podcasts and audio books together and discuss them at length. One of the conversations that we had was around the subject of talent. When I asked her what she felt her talent was she replied simply “I make things beautiful. What is your talent?”
I hummed and hawed a little over this and ended up saying that I wasn’t sure I had one specific talent. There wasn’t any one thing I felt I had ever been especially gifted at. I asked her what she thought my talent was and she said “You have a much more useful talent.” “Oh? What’s that?” I said. “You have the ‘make shit happen’ talent”.
There you have it. She “Made Things Beautiful” and I “Made Shit Happen”. Together we were going to “Make Beautiful Shit Happen”.
So it goes.
Those three words are the ones used throughout Kurt Vonnegut’s most famous novel “Slaughterhouse Five”. A mantra used every time there is a death in the story. Colleen had a bias for beautiful prose. She loved all things beautiful. As such she was an admirer of Vonnegut’s work. She cited several of his quotes during our time together over our discussions on philosophy and literature. One of the most apt quotes of Vonnegut’s, which truly summed up the way she lived, was from Cat’s Cradle…
Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are ‘It might have been’.
Believe me when I say I have pondered these 15 words more in the last month than I would have ever thought possible in my lifetime. Colleen was never one to let ‘it might have been’ linger on her lips or in her mind. She lived life fully and loved with all of her heart.
Life is short. You never know what it has in store for you.
I for one, will not let ‘it might have been’ become a phrase in my vocabulary. I can assure you that I fully intend to “Make beautiful shit happen” for my Colleen. My hope is that you will help me do the same. Stop waiting for ‘the right time’, stop waiting to get ‘all your ducks in a row’. That thing that you wanted to make happen? Take this post as your sign, your omen, your call to action. Whatever you need it to be, this is it.
Help me make beautiful shit happen for my Colleen. Tell me what you will do so that you will never have to say or think “if only” or “it might have been”.
If you want to learn more about Colleen and how she lived I did a little photo montage here: mikecameron.ca/colleen and Global news did a nice piece on her here: http://globalnews.ca/news/2258078/mom-found-dead-outside-fort-saskatchewan-home-seized-every-moment-boyfriend/