Something about that T-shirt really clicked when Gord disrobed his jacket to reveal the iconic Jaws design of a deadly shark coming up for a kill. Without a doubt it was symbolic. Tragic as it may be, Gord kept it hip and wore it to show a sardonic, dire reminder that cancer is lurking inside and is ready to attack his brain.
I was in awe of the courage and vulnerability he displayed on stage where, if only during an interlude of the twilight of his life he had conquered the cancer in moments of exuberant revery. The lyrics “New Orleans is sinking, man and I don’t wanna swim” come to mind. When the means to end your life are at work to take you down, it takes some serious bravery to keep swimming in spite of it.
Life is the ultimate gift. Conversely, it’s a sign of enlightenment to accept the truth that it will end. I’d like to think that on August 20th, 2016 we didn’t just see Gord Downie give the performance of a lifetime. We saw him dance with, and mock the face of death itself.