This morning I got into work, turned on my computer and got slapped in the face with the news that Jack Layton had died. At first I was just shocked, and then I started reading facebook posts. I seem to be unable to stop crying. This has only happened to me twice before with public figures. The first was John Lennon but even then I think I was just joining mass hysteria as my elementary school brain could just conceptualize him as a Beatle, not as a voice of peace and dissent. The second, and perhaps more profound, was Jim Henson. In some small way I felt my childhood died with him. I still remember watching the memorial muppet show they made for him and Kermit came out in the end to say goodbye to his "friend Jim" and his voice was not right and I had to go upstairs to my room and bawl.
So why this reaction to Jack? I did not love him the way some did. Secretly I prefer the characters of Trudeau and Chretien with their crafty fuck you attiudes. Jack was too folksy, too sincere. Yet. Yet he spoke to something Canadian in me. He managed to be that reasonable Canadian that would point out that we should take care of people who have less and are in need. That corporate profits were not the holy grail. That we did not AGREE. And people responded. The NDP gave me hope that there were other people in the country who gave a fuck.. and enough of them to make those other assholes get worried. I poked my head out of the sand for a bit to catch the glimmer of hope that was passing by.
After the election, I buried my head right back down into its sandy hole of denial and put the news on blackout again. I stopped watching it a few years back, as its constant screaming was starting to turn my thoughts black. I returned to my blissful ignorance over the summer, popping only briefly on google news to catch glimpses of London riots and imminent world financial implosion. Bombarded this morning by facebook RIPS I started to cry.
Am I crying for his death or am I crying for that sinking feeling that Mordor is winning and the Ents are soon to be no more? Not that Jack and Gandalf are cut from the same cloth, but somehow the image of hope plummeting into a carveruous abyss comes to mind. So melodramatic, I know, but it is the knowledge that Jack will not rise from the pit in glimmering white robes to come save us all which weighs heavy on my heart. I guess it is still up to us hobbits and elves to rally together and do something, but for today I mostly feel like taking stock, feeling sad and trying to figure out how to re-ignite that feeling I had when I first heard news that the Orange Crush was giving the Dark Lord a run for his money.