I had just finished going through chemotherapy when the country found out that Gord Downie was sick. The summer of 2016, while the Tragically Hip were having their final tour, I was going for early morning walks in my parent’s village on the shores of Lake Ontario where the halfway point (2.5kms) was right outside a house the Hip owned and used as a recording studio. I had waking fantasies of meeting Gord outside of it (although I never lingered and he was obviously on tour), giving him a hug and saying, “hey, I have cancer too and it really sucks.”
Unlike myself, who still can’t seem to get off my ass and do anything (creatively) important in this life despite a cancer diagnosis, Gord managed to fit a lot of life into his last months. I’ve only been to one Tragically Hip concert (I hate crowds and stadium shows) and that was one of their Another Roadside Attraction gigs where I was more interested in seeing Matthew Sweet play and actually went to bed during the Tragically Hip portion of the show because I had a migraine and a boy who wouldn’t stop berating me because I wasn’t in love with him (I do not miss the teenage years). But in true Canadian fashion I learned to love The Hip and Downie and his quiet poetic presence that makes Canadians want to be better Canadians. Or at least makes Canadians want to turn on his music and just be.