My darling Cliff died in March, 1992. I was in the depths of hell, grieving. My best friend, Carolyn, did everything she could to comfort me. One day she told me there was a healing service at St Barnabas Anglican Church in Pierrefonds, (a suburb of Montreal, my hometown).
I am Jewish, but I was desperate. My grief was so intense. So Carolyn and I went to the healing service and I started attending services and bible classes at St. Barnabas.
On New Year's Eve, 1992, I moved to Ontario, but I came back to St. Barnabas almost every weekend, even after I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery and while I was receiving chemo treatments. Baldness added to my burden, but not much. It was the least of my trials.
Early 1994. I was given a key to the church. I prepared the holy elements for the altar and I spent most of my time in the nave, grieving and praying, hoping for some sign that Cliff was not gone forever. His loss was unbearable. It helped to be there, alone.
I remember that day. The orange rays of sunset beamed through the stained glass windows onto the pews where I lay stretched out. I was exhausted. I think, over the months, my tears washed away a patch in the grey paint on the floor in front of my pew where I always sat alone, weeping. I prayed and prayed for a sign.
When I got home that day, the phone rang. It was my friend, Linda, calling from Ottawa. She had never telephoned before.
Linda told me she had been in a shopping centre in Ottawa that day to enrol her young daughter at a ballet class. While there, she dropped in at a beauty salon owned by a friend. And there, on the wall of the hairdresser's shop, she was surprised to see a framed professional 8X10 black and white photograph of Cliff.
How did a photograph of Cliff come to appear on the wall of a hair salon in Ottawa?
We finally learned that the owner of the salon had a friend who was a professional photographer in Montreal, Lois Segal, and Lois had taken the picture of Cliff in the early 1980's, at a showbiz event at the Casablanca on St. Denis Street in Montreal, where Cliff was the resident pianist with his brass star in the walk in front of the club. This was shortly after RCA had recorded Cliff's album, Mr. Nostalgia, Cliff Carter, in 1982.
A way-out "coincidence"? The sign I had prayed for. I believe in miracles. And I keep on hoping.