The Grammar of my Fears

Note: the lyrics in this post are a collection of lines from three sources.  I have combined them in my own order.  The original writers of all the songs are Emily Saliers (of the Indigo Girls), Rob Hyman, Eric Bazilian (of the Hooters) and John Denver.

I drove across some of the most beautiful countryside in the North Island today. Listening to the music of my young years.  The Hooters and The Indigo Girls might be odd CD-stack neighbours, but they harmonized with John Denver to give me a soundtrack that melted the miles into memories of my past.  I love them all fiercely and sang loud, alone in the closeted interior of the car. Green fields and cows whizzed by my windows as I lost myself in lyrics I had forgotten that I remember.  Holding the notes for just that bit longer than the song called for; holding on to the ephemeral essence of earlier times.

Where do the children go?  Between the bright night and darkest days?
If I had a song that I could sing for you,
I’d sing a song to make you feel this way

And if you break down, I will remind you, Ooh of what you were yesterday
Oh mercy, what I won’t give.  To have the things that mean the most,
not mean the things I miss…

All you zombies, show your faces… I know you’re out there
All you people in the streets… I see you

as the bombshells of my daily fears explode,
I try to trace them to my youth

I squeeze the sky out but there’s not a star appears;
begin my studies with this paper and this pencil

and I’m working through the grammar of my fears…

My road trip today was to visit the hubster’s dad.  He and his wife are over eighty, and in the cruel nature of old age, have been weathering one health crisis after another. This time, it was John’s turn to be rushed to hospital.  The nature of his emergency sent him south, so he and my mother-in-law are in different hospitals, hours away from one another, and hours away from us. I make mental notes to myself to move nearer to my children if I make it to my eighties. We’re so far from them. It makes it hard to be the moral support they need, let alone the physical help. So today, I was visiting John.  He’s the sole carer of Mary, who has Parkinson’s Disease. Between them, they have been in hospital more than out of hospital over the last year, and it has been a very hard road. My heart goes out to them, so far from one another. Like teenagers, they get told off for hogging the hospital phones. He wants to know how her dinner was last night. She wants to know if his feet are warm. She wakes up alone and panics, wondering where she is and why.  He wakes up alone and knows there is a long rehabilitation road ahead if he is to bring her home again. Mid conversation with me, he sucks in a quick intake of air, trying to hold back the tears. His eyes lock onto mine while he tries to wrestle control over his emotions. The tears come anyway. It’s not kind, old age. Life is always too short, even when you’ve been alive a long time.

It makes me thoughtful. The whole way home I am ruminating over that line from an old song.  About the things that mean the most, not being the things I miss. I think about how much I have learned in all these years of being alive. And how so many of those things are unproductive, unhelpful, unkind to me. I am unlearning all the things that have kept me from happiness. All the insecurities and fear of failure, all the horrors that because things have happened before they will again. I think about all these fears that have shackled me. And about how I am breaking free of them.  I’m examining the context and syntax of every one. And scratching my pencil through ingrained thoughts that I have taken for truths. Thoughts that don’t stand up to scrutiny.  Every thought that stops me from enjoying my health and freedom. How ridiculous they seem, laid out in front of me. Relics of my childhood, ready for an edit.  I don’t know a better way to live my best life than to do this.  Working through the grammar of my fears.

Maybe you have fears like this too?

When I was really sick, I promised myself that I would not take health for granted if I ever got better. I promised myself I would live a life not bound by my fears. I would seek opportunities and take them.  I would find the areas that filled me with insecurity, and tackle them. Look for experiences that fill me with joy and collect them. So that is what I have been doing. Last Sunday, I did a lingerie shoot.   Out on a windy grassy, knoll, in full view of the public utilising the walking track that skirted the location; I took off my clothes and posed for photos in my smalls. It was liberating! I think if I can do that, I can do almost anything!

PIcture from my lingerie shoot of my legs and the statement "I am unlearning all the thoughts that have kept me from happiness. One faulty line at a time" Rachel F Cox

I’m going to leave you with a verse from a beautiful song. Think about those young years… who you were… who you want to be. Maybe there’s some editing to your interior monologue that you want to do, too.

…when we last talked we were lying on our backs,
looking up at the sky through the ceiling
I used to lie like that alone out on the driveway
trying to read the Greek upon the stars, the alphabet of feeling
Oh I knew back then, it was a calling that said: if joy then pain.
The sound of the voice these years later
is
still the same.
-Emily Saliers

Grief Music

Talking is good.  I can talk! But writing gives better shape to my words.  Let’s them step out in ordered lines, marching to the beat of the same drum. Rhythm, cadence, innuendo, pace.  Often, my writing comes when my music is playing.

When it comes to music itself, I prefer to listen to others, rather than make my own. The music I make sounds better in written words.  You can trust me on that one.
Or ask my hubster about my ukulele concerts.

———————————–

Music is solace, medicine and healing for the troubles in my heart.  I listen to escape, reminisce, to motivate myself or to find a way to let out some tears.  For me, both music and movies are effective cry-button-pushers.  Sometimes, you just need to have a good cry.

I heard a song, once, directly about grief for a lost mother.  I think it was called ‘Goodbye’s The Hardest Word’. It was playing on the car radio and it lasered right in on my softest spot.  I was overwhelmed. I pulled over and let the crying overcome me…
It was a few years after my Mum had died,  and it was Celine DionBut even the number of years that had passed and my personal music taste barriers didn’t stop the grief.  When it comes, it comes on strong.  We call them SUGs around here.  Sudden Upsurges of Grief.  Sometimes they don’t even require a song.  I’ll be busy getting about the business of my day and WHOOMPH.  SUG.  Sock it straight to the heart.

Mumma!  Where are you?!

I am all at once, a child again, lost in the crowd. Seized with terror.
Where’s my Mum?

She’s gone.


Her name was Faith.  She passed that name to me, and I to my girl.  I love that link between the three of us.  It’s forever.  It’s longer than life.  One day, someone will be researching a family history and there we’ll be.   Three steps down, faith on the family tree.

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 9.54.23 am

She was beautiful.  Hard case.  Shy. Loving and controlling and supportive and wise.  And mine.  She got ovarian cancer and fought for seven years.  I became her friend in those seven years.  And a grown up.  And a mother myself.  We spent hours together, working on her memory books.  She read endless stories to my wee girl, far beyond the patience of a parent. She was a special Granny.  They were mates.

“We’s mates, ay?” she’d say to Bee in a funny voice, eyes twinkly over her glasses.  Bee loved her with ferocity.  She was two when Mum died.  Even now she still wakes sometimes, crying in the night, deep in the clasp of her own SUG.  She misses her Granny.
Zed never got to meet her.

I find myself sounding like my Mum, sometimes.  A turn of phrase, a sharp repast when I’m stretched thin. A quirky saying or a loving squeezy ‘mmmmph’.  I mother like her; on my good days. And somehow, I always know what she would say about any given thing.  Usually the opposite to what I would want to hear but almost always, truth.  I know if she was here, she’d be over, fluffing about and helping me.  I know she’d be bringing me articles about how I can get fixed and staging sneaky prayer fests. She’d be loving me the way only a mother can.

 

mumandme

So, today, I want to post a little song on here.  It’s quite possibly my favourite ‘farewell’ song.  I love it very much.  The Indigo Girls have caught, by some musical magic and lyrical gift, the pain and beauty that co-exist in real human relationships.  The imperfect, perfect love between two people.

When someone you love dies, you don’t say farewell once.  You say it every day.
It takes a lifetime to comes to term with the idea that life ends.  Maybe we never ever do.  So here’s to Mum.  Faith.  Beautiful soul and beloved mumma.

And here’s to you; to your grief, for your love.
For all those lost to us that we love.
I hope this song brings you solace, medicine, and healing for the troubles in your heart.


Okay, so the hair might be a tad distracting.  Stop looking.  Close your eyes and listen to that voice.  Wow, just wow.