Sunday, 23 April 2017

On not needing

The other day I had the thought that I need to stop needing. It's a oxymoron I know, if you need to stop needing that's needing something. In and of itself you're doomed to failure if you need it. Okay so I wish to stop needing. This of course is the fundamental teaching of the Buddha. He termed it Nirodha - or a cessation of suffering. How to get there is to eliminate all attachment and desire. Many years of practice in the Buddhist tradition may or may not bring one close to this, it's hardcore.  But hey even a whiff of not suffering is tempting enough to make a stab at it. Think on it, if I do not desire or want I may stop this suffering? I do in some part of my deepest soul know this truth, problem is I do not know how to stop wanting or desiring, I do not know how to not feel attachment, to let go, to not yearn, to not need. But like I said I want it.

Why? I asked myself do you feel this need to stop needing? It's had to pin down, I am not fully sure yet, lets say it's born out of a thought that what I am doing isn't working. All the needing and yearning I have felt these last many years have caused me much much suffering. I am looking for a new way. I only have a faint hint that this may help, so I am at a point where I am desperate enough to want try it. I know I know,  ironic- desperately needing to stop needing.

I want to stop wanting all things in my life. I have started to practice letting it slip when need comes to me. It is the only way I can do this. I am too much of a neophyte to know how to let it go, I am not there yet, enough if I can just let it slip a bit - or more specifically to just let it get loose from it's moorings in my consciousness. I feel a need, a desire, an attachment to someone or something, a yearning, a craving, a inner feeling that needs fixing or holding and I practice it. I let it slip.  Slide out of my grip -go now, off with it-it causes only suffering to me. I must say it's easier to do this while on antidepressants that in me tend to squash all feelings to some degree. But that is okay, I don't have to change that because for now I just accept that is how it is, I am feeling less because my neurotransmitters are busy doing other things like reuptaking. I go with the flow. Maybe the more I practice this dis-attachment, this not needing or dwelling and reveling in the thoughts emotions and feelings that surround my needs and desires, the easier not needing will get. Maybe the less needing I feel, the less I will suffer, the less disappointment, sadness and tragedy I will have in my life. I do not know.

I worry though, that I will become non-feeling, a hermit sheltered from life and all it's happiness when desire is not allowed to flourish-I let that slip.  What if I can't feel anything anymore about  Terry? I let that slip- What if I stop needing and become a island- I let that slip. What if I become dead inside? I let that slip.  What if I never feel joy, suffering, grief, love, excitement, anticipation and all the offshoots of these mysterious and wonderful feelings that fuck yes I need and want???- I let that slip. That it won't work and I will remain needing and suffering. I let that slip too.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Music saved my life tonight

       It's hard to put in words what music has done for me over my lifetime. I know it has saved me on many occasions. From boredom, from inertia, from hating my life, from grief stricken lostness, from not wanting to live here anymore. Many songs over the years have played a huge part in my life during a specific time period or event. As I am sure it has for many people. Music is such a great equalizer. It connects us on a grand level to emotions otherwise not spoken, makes real what we are all hiding inside. We are all part of this world, this human condition, we share many of the same experiences and music is a profound way to connect to each other, not only musically when we hear it played on the radio or at a concert, but on a deeper soulful level. It tells me you feel what I feel, you get it.

My first memories of music are as a young girl at home listening to my parent's radio channel of choice - CFDR- "So long Marianne" by Leonard Cohen being a notable first song to impact me in a big way. I remember as a young girl of about 10 swinging on the swings in the local playground singing this song. I remember getting a white portable record player (the kind in vogue today) and listening to a gold Grand Funk Railroad  LP on it while dancing around the concrete floor in the basement. As a teenager when my father got an awesome record player sound system, and wasn't listening to the likes of Acker Bilk and Nana Mouskouri, I would play Elton John's greatest hits, this and the Eagles and Neil Diamond's Hot August Night  being the only solace in the sea of oldies music I had. And it was oh so enough. The hours and hours spent listening to these albums turned way up loud, listening to every lyric, every note of the instruments, reading the liner notes and staring at the album covers and sleeves. Hearing Jackson Brown's Pretender album smoking cigarettes and singing "Bright baby blues" to my imaginary lover (a few short years later to become my real one) in all my teenaged angst. I was so in love. I had found my island, with music everything was going to be okay.

When I was busy raising my children in the 1980's I took a hiatus from music, and it was the one and only time music was absent from my life. I only could afford maybe three cd's and they quickly wore out their welcome in my ears, and besides I was way too busy for music, I was barely keeping my head above water with 5 kids and going back to school. In the 1990's when things calmed a bit and I studied my nursing textbooks I started to listen to music again. To this day I have a hard time at work unless I am listening to music, it's when the creative juices can flow - when I can think.  I read with music in my ears, I walk, drive and cook with music in my ears, I post process my photography with music often naming them a line from the song that is on. I don't get people who don't get music, I feel sorry for people who don't have it in their life- who don't recognize its relevance.

I sometimes wonder do you (like me) have flashbulb moments in your life married to a song? Those magic moments in your life you will never forget as long as you live that are paired with a song or an album? When you hear it you are brought right back there to that time. I have more than a few of these and it is always a pleasant daydream to reminisce about them and see if new ones float to the surface. Memories like lying on citadel hill July 1st, 1980 listening to Matt Minglewood sing "can't you see",  just out of grade 12 and on the cusp of adulthood and freedom from all that was keeping me trapped and stifled in my tedious hum drum life. This album tucked into my suitcase as I escaped across the country a few short days later. In the days and weeks after my son died I listened to Bob Dylan's "precious angel" from Slow Train Coming relentlessly, over and over I rocked to the music to relieve the anguish. It did a little, just enough to stop from falling over the cliff. When my youngest daughter was a toddler and I was sliding into a severe post postpartum depression I listened to Paul Simon's Graceland- the upbeat riffs and rhythms of "diamonds on the soles of her shoes" keeping me and the baby happy enough swaying to it's beautiful sound. When my love was dying from fuck ca, I hastily made a playlist of our favorites for us to listen to on those final days.  My Mary sweetly singing to him "me and Bobby McGee" sounding exactly like Janice, him smiling at her. His final act of love towards me, standing from his death bed to dance with me to a verse from "Thank you" by Led Zeppelin.  Hearing Lucinda Williams sing "learning to live" as I biked -alone in my grief- with a group of friends, tears streaming down my face.  Musical flash bulb moments indeed.

I continue to make these memories for myself. I listen to a lot of new music, I still get elated when something grabs me and I will play it over and over connecting it to my life, my grief, my new way forward in this journey. There are rich new memories to make as I dance around my living room to a new song by The Felice Brothers:
"Throw your arms around me
Let's keep this quiet
Hear our hearts in the distance like cannon fire
See our breath in the window
in the siren light
Oh It's a wonderful Life"

How can you not believe it when you hear such magic?

I don't believe that memories such as these can ever be erased, they say the old folks with Alzheimer's can still remember the words and sing along to a song even though they can't recognize their spouses or children. I know if I am unlucky enough to get that affliction I will still have these memories, you only need to put the song on and it will all flood back in. Please do that for me, I will sing happily along to the words.  I will put a playlist with my will, play it for me when I am dying and when I am dead and gone I will be there with you remembering.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Time keepers

As a griever for a lost love I am by default a keeper of time.  I mark Thursday afternoons with a whole new lens; I notice the seasons change more so than in the past. I notice the winter coming on, the dark afternoons and early evenings that will cocoon me easier, the joy of summer that I am afraid to fully feel. And the bittersweet crisp air of Autumn - his favorite time of year. I notice what it means when spring comes around. The season of love when all things are new and fresh, full of hope and love is in the air. It does not go by without a pang, never mind that it is also the time of year my husband died. I keep in my heart the seasons that have lapsed since his death (it's the fourth spring he missed, he'd be out in the yard raking, cleaning). Wow, four really?? Time to me feels like it zips by at an extraordinarily fast pace now. I have this sense of it running out. I can't figure out if that is because I am intimately acquainted with death or because I am getting older, or if it is just me and how I am. I remember before Terry died, the month and weeks leading up to his death I was obsessed with dying, thinking it was me that I was on the way out. I see that death anxiety now for what it was, a unknowing of knowing.

But this death anxiety persists sometimes, and I have this sense that I have to make right and fix and change my life before it is too late. I end each day with regret that it didn't happen yet, whatever "it" happens to be on this specific day. I sigh I lament  oh shit  this or that has not taken place and there goes one more day when I missed the opportunity to do ___________.  It's a shitty way to live, the exact opposite of the all profound and smugly right "live in the moment" bullshit mantra, the "all we have is now" hijacked Buddhist philosophy.

For me right now it is impossible to live in the moment. What I have in my life now might be what inmates on death row feel? Or maybe a person diagnosed with a terminal illness? But I am not terminally ill (although in some sense we all are aren't we?)  yet I have this oh shit here it comes and I am not ready mentality. This -I have not lived and time's a wasting-philosophy. This urge to quickly fix, remedy, mend, repair, rejuvenate, reconcile, ameliorate, correct "it" before times runs the hell out. Don't you get it, why can't you do it, you know it but can't seem to move forward Sussey-what the fuck? It's pathetic in a way. So I keep time instead. I count the days since his death, not the accomplishments or the changes or the growth or the backsliding instead I count the days months and years. Like something magical will happen if a certain period of time passes.  And all that happens is time passes, and I am that much closer to it being over.  Yeah not good, not good.

Is there a stage of grief called stagnation? If not, there should be. I am in it. I am in a certain limbo or life in waiting. I recently went back on the antidepressants for the  oh 100th time. I surrendered to the constant negative thoughts, agitation and irritability and teary mornings and nights, to the dysthymia  and disinterest in life. Once again giving over to the fact that ok maybe the brain chemistry is off, those circuits of neurotransmitters of serotonin and norepinephrine aren't kicking in like they should be. But I have this other side that says, wait a minute depression is a stage of grief. It's normal to feel this. It is but I don't have to be depression do I? Frankly, I am tired of talking to my head about the difference so I surrendered. I will submit, I will watch the time go by and see if I still keep counting off the days like the gallows await. I will note the season of love go by, anticipate the summer in the hopes of fully feeling it without fear. I will keep track of the days you have been gone from me. For right now I do not know what else to do.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The art of the kiss

I have squandered many kisses, many "what could have's" for a quick peck, a brief touch of the lips. I wish I could have all of them back. I want back all those times I didn't go that extra step into the fine art of kissing with my love.

I am talking about the sensuous kiss here. The one that builds like arousal to orgasm. No not one that ends in orgasm, but a kiss that follows the pattern of arousal to peaking to climax to recovery. Kissing just for the sake of kissing and passing time and being in the moment of enjoying kissing. All this is possible in a touching of another person's lips upon yours. A good kiss starts off tentative and shy, a mere touching of lips, then a slow burn to the discovery of what they feel like on yours "fully and completely" to quote a Canadian icon. There is no sloppy spit only enough moisture to prevent friction, no wide open cavern, no smashing of teeth, fast movements or aggressive tongues in this phase of the slow burn; there is no hurry. There is just the anticipation of more, the stalled moment when the kiss can set off a flood of hormones and horny feelings all with the feel, the sound and the taste of it. Just this and the art of how your lips move and follow the other set of lips.  The kiss then becomes more and more heated, building. Maybe a little tug on the lower lip with teeth, just a light tug, a tease. Then the discovery of the tongue as it is introduced carefully, partially, not all at once not rammed - rather- willingly given, surrendered periodically, interspersed with moments of being full on passionately offered and received. All the while the tender flesh of the lips yield and surround yield and surround in rhythm to waves of physical stirrings in the body. This all taking place simultaneously and naturally with a turn of the head this way then that way to try out the positions, the gentle reach of yours or your partners hand cupped softly around the head or ear to pull closer because enough can't be given or received. Maybe a small cry or laugh or moan is added for effect or involuntarily just happening in the moment - in the art of it.

Terry was an excellent kisser, he had it all going on, I was lucky (when I chose not to squander his kiss). I remember fondly kissing like this, the addictive quality of it, the wanting it to never end. The hours spent just partaking, like a drug - it's rush of oxytocin leaving you a little high, mellowed, heavy eye-lidded and even giddy. Fuck I miss that, I regret all the lost opportunity, the not bothering with the art of kissing in my life. When you are married for awhile you lose the newness and the joy that comes with the art of kissing.  I regret that happened in my marriage.  Today I notice these things now. I see them all the time, couples greeting and leaving one another with the quick peck on the lips or the cheek. Stop right there you two, instead really kiss, really feel it, make it last. Who cares who is looking, who cares about the time taken to do this, it doesn't matter that the feelings will want to but will not end in orgasm, do it anyway. Partake in the art of kissing while you can. I don't want you to regret it later. I have been lucky since Terry's death to be reminded of this joy. But I want more I am not content to go quietly into the night. I wish to continue perfecting this art.

On that note, I also wonder if this is something we learn? Or something we are born to do well or not? I like to believe the former, that this can be learned, just like making love we don't start off as experts. We learn it with good teachers.  I also wonder who invented kissing?  Who discovered that flesh of the lips on another  feels good and creates this rush? I looked it up once  see here  I love this and am left wondering what is a scientifically valid kiss? What kisses were worthy enough to make the 124 counted over the three year period? I'll wager it wasn't a peck, I'd like to believe it is the type of kiss I am discussing here. 

Monday, 3 April 2017

Three years

It is the third, not the first not the second, the third year without you. Like a middle child, a limbo of sorts. Not the magical "five years" that everyone talks about as the real "it takes that long to finally heal" milestone. Around five years  "I got my life back in order" - "I fell in love and moved on"- "I cried over everything until about the five year mark". Fuck off to that is what I say A) because I don't believe it B) because grief doesn't follow a timeline. So today it's just three. And it's shitty. As shitty and unimportant as a middle child feels sometimes. I don't want to count down the days and mark another anniversary. But I will because you are worth it. I don't want to be reminded that I am only three years into this grief journey; that I am not "there" yet  whatever the fuck "there" is. And I don't want to be reminded of the day you died. I am sick to death of death and your death and remembering it and feeling it and living with it and dealing with it day in and day out for three years now. I am hostage to these thoughts. I can't buy into the whole psychological bullshit of "just think happy thoughts and you will be happy"  "focus on the life he lived not his death"  I CAN'T  -  no matter how hard I try. I am just not there and I feel society's pressure that I am not there, that I have somehow failed grieving.

Sit with me where I am today.

And today where I am at is - I want to run away. I want to forgot that it happened on April 3rd, forget that you breathed your last breath in my arms and that a huge part of who I am went away with you that day and is not coming back.

I want to have this over with, I am angry -  angry that you're gone, that I am left with marking your passing with a date that only means the day you left his earth. It's every other day in between that means something, my reality is when the torture visits 5pm on a Tuesday in mid Feb. This day is just another years passage of it all. This day marks your death, my death, our death, my torture, another of these godless death anniversaries and a reminder of the hold this month day and year has on me. I want you back. I hate it here without you, I really do. Who knew it'd be so desolate, so lonely and empty? Not me. I thought I would heal within a few months. Oh the naivete the stupidity the irony. Sussey you have only just begun, you are only three years in. You have a whole life ahead of missing him, if you live long enough. Maybe at the rate you're going that will be shortened, your poor liver. I know how sad and disappointed in me you would be, how I am not doing well in your absence, how I am not living the life you would have wished for me after you left, how I am not living up to your legacy, how I have failed once again. FUCK. How is that for some self pity?

I mark this three years with wailing and teeth gnashing, with heels dragging, with tantrums in waiting. I heard some kids yelling and crying and screaming in the grocery store yesterday. I wanted to do the same. At the checkout with the cashier - just start screaming at her and at everybody in line, I would answer her offhand "hi, how are you today"? with "my husband is dead, (no it would be screamed) MY HUSBAND IS DEAD!!!!! I hate being left here, I WANT TO GO TOO,  fucking life IS SO UNFAIR AND I HATE IT  and this is how miserable death of a loved one is". When she was still trying to recover from my onslaught I would dramatically fall to the floor and kick my feet and pound my fists and scream and scream and scream. That is how I really want to mark this three years, that is the real honesty of how I feel three years in. But I am a adult not a kid, it's not acceptable. I said "I'm fine" and I took my groceries quietly and walked out to my car and kept my grief on the inside where it hides and went on with my day, married to my third year without you.

Today I went to work, I will not do that again, it was a horrible place to be when you are reliving a bad day. I could barely walk home, so drained, so tired, so depleted I had to lay down on our bed with Pax and nap in order to go on. I did go on though, I ate a lovely supper made by Melanie, I received a gift of flowers from my friend. I visited your grave, I took a picture. I survived it.  I remain in a state of limbo, of flux, of hibernation  and part of me in waiting for the perfect  five year mark they all talk about. But I know that is as much a lie as healing within a few months is. Three years today and the only thing that is true and meaningful is I am still without you, that I am still alive.