Elizabeth, Justin and I

Elizabeth was ten years old when I was born; nevertheless, I regarded her as my contemporary. We had a satisfying relationship. She got on with her duties and was seldom ill. She had been there all my life. She helped me through the war. She was a soldier, herself.

When she and I were young, we looked alike and as she grew older she looked like my mother. My mother had been very ill and checked out early, but I still had the Queen. She even showed up at Christmas. Sort of.

Then in my 86th year, when I was busy sorting out two potentially fatal conditions my big sister, Elizabeth, slipped away. Fatal conditions and I are not strangers. Fortunately, medical science keeps moving forward and by the time I get whatever, doctors speak of it offhandedly. Their latest slight procedure may involve heart surgery.

When I looked up Elizabeth was gone. That was very annoying. Just when I needed her there, anchoring me, she vanished.

Other people threw themselves into the Queen project. They watched the 24-hour news and planned their calendar around her funeral. I suppose I was working through the denial phase. If I didn’t pay attention. It wouldn’t be true.

Then our Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to my rescue. Some killjoy sneaked a video of him singing Bohemian Rhapsody while Gregory Charles played the piano in a public room in their hotel. A bun fight ensued. Righteous Canadians like Coyne objected. Unrighteous ones didn’t. It was Saturday night, personal time, not intended for eavesdropper’s consumption. And if you can’t sing someone on their way, what has the world come to?

Like everyone else I no longer have the Queen LP, nor even their CD, but in a few minutes I owned – or rented until my password gets lost -2- versions of Bohemian Rhapsody, the original and remixed version. Then I decided why not the whole albums?

So, after a blue day, including a long walk in wind and rain, I set about making a pot of soup, wearing earbuds and blasting Queen into my brain.

I was too old be a rock fan, but I taught high school, so I had to support the kids who saw themselves as Freddie or Mick. I bought the hard rock and my then-husband bought the Beatles. Our children were the right-aged audience, so they didn’t complain.

Elizabeth and I were young in those days, at the top of our game even. In my case, it was a period of time, just before the first fuel crisis, when we were all still living in ignorance,in a beautiful house under a wooded hill with quail. It was just before the night crawler crept in a back window, causing the door to slam and stealing a $12 watch. Elizabeth was still summering at Balmoral and we were swimming in the pool or sailing on Lake Ontario.

When then-husband passed away, we gave away the sailboat, more or less wrecked by wear and sitting at anchor. I had vowed to see to his estate, an act of love if ever there was one. He hadn’t filed/paid taxes for 5-years. If I see him across the veil, I am going to yell at him first.

Elizabeth will be delighted to see Phillip. Remember Elizabeth sitting in Covid isolation at Phillip’s funeral. I understand why she had to leave.

I am prescribing several repeats of Bohemian Rhapsody every night for two weeks and various other Queen songs. I’ll swallow the miracle drugs first, but more miraculous will be the music.

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