mdlbear: (river)

It's been twenty years to the day since my father died. (And twenty years plus two weeks since my mother-in-law died; that was a devastating couple of weeks.)

Since it's FAWM, I probably ought to try to write a song. But there are two already: "The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of" and "Rainbow's Edge". Both have pretty extensive notes; I'm not going to duplicate them here.

I'm okay; it's been long enough that most of the sharp edges have worn off. (Although, I almost posted this with 10 instead of 20 -- maybe it hasn't been that long.)

The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of: [ogg] [mp3]

I still find myself wanting to call and tell him something, from time to time.

mdlbear: (rose)

Jordin Kare died yesterday, from complications of aortic valve replacement surgery. I am still somewhat in shock. He was younger than Colleen.

There is not much to be grateful for on this Thursday, but I am profoundly grateful for Jordin's music, which has been part of my life's soundtrack since at least the early 1980s. He was one of the founders of Off Centaur Publications, publishers of the Westerfilk songbooks and many fine filk tapes. (Jordin did the typesetting for Westerfilk I using troff, which led to a number of typos involving single quotes, which troff treats specially if they're the first character in a line.)

Last night Naomi and I sang a few of his songs -- "Fire In the Sky", "The Designer" and "The Engineer", "Waverider", and all I could remember of "Kantrowitz 1972". It wasn't until this morning that I found the lyrics for that and "Sail for Amber", Colleen's favorite.

I just ...

(Jordin Kare: Fire In The Sky (1991) | LyricWikia)

mdlbear: A brown tabby cat looking dubiously at a wireless mouse (curio)

A bear walks into a bar, and puts a dollar in the jar.

"KahlĂșa and cream, Mike." It's not his usual genever, but he's not the first bear to order that drink this week. He takes it to the chalk line and stands for a while, sipping the drink and fingering something in his pocket. Finally, he raises the glass.

"To Curio!", he says, and flings the glass into the fireplace.

He was always my cat, ever since he walked up to me in the shelter two years ago and said so. My sister had to translate for him -- I wasn't very fluent in feline at the time.

He was the most outgoing and easygoing of our cats, always willing to accept attention from anybody, but I'm the one he followed around, and asked to be picked up and carried by. He spent a lot of time on Colleen's lap, too, and when he started getting picky about food, she would empty a can of catfood into a small bowl and make sure he ate it.

At night I would pat the laundry hamper in the hallway and say "Up", and he would jump up for me to carry upstairs to bed, though he often leapt out of my arms and ran up the stairs ahead of me. Most nights he slept on our bed.

I made a pad of folded leopard-print, fuzzy fabric and set it on my desk so that he could lie or sit there and be petted while I worked on the computer. He made an excellent villain's cat. He liked high places; I once found him on the highest shelf in our bathroom, afraid to come down. Perhaps he knew I'd come rescue him.

Maybe a month ago he started eating less, and became more solitary. His breathing became labored. His last two weeks I would often come home to find that he'd spent all day in our closet, or on the cool tiles of the shower stall. I would carry him to Colleen, but he would only pick at his food. His last week, he was completely miserable; we made the earliest appointment we could. It was barely soon enough.

you may want to skip this part. Wish I could have. )

Somewhere in there, Naomi reminded me that cats live in the moment, and we had done the best we could to make his last moments good ones, surrounded by the people he loved.

And he had one last gift for me: he taught me to cry again. Long ago, I forgot how. Thank you, Curio, for giving me back my tears.

The bear sits back down, and puts a tattered red collar on the table in front of him.

In the end, he walked across the Rainbow Bridge calmly, eyes open and tail held high. In Valhalla, he's finally able to go outside, get wasted on catnip, and sleep on the grass in the sunlight. In the evening he walks across the tables -- he was never a lap cat except for Colleen -- and begs for scraps from the feasting warriors. He's especially fond of beef.

Sometimes, late at night, he'll go visiting. There's a petrified forest where it's always twilight, and a glade where stands an Amethyst Rose with obsidian thorns as sharp as Curio's claws. Sometimes Bast goes with him. Bast willing, I'll see them again some day.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The weather was cool and overcast when I first went out, and everything was wet after a night and morning of rain. But everything was bright and sunny when I went to work. I ended up taking only a short walk, though, both because it was running late and I didn't really feel like going out. A nice little percolation pond, with birds. Geese, ducks, a pair of swans, a couple of black birds I couldn't identify, a kingfisher and a seagull.

In keeping with the household network's naming scheme, the router will probably be called when we finally move. No idea what the apartment will be called; we'll figure that out after we get there.

The grieving finally hit me late in the afternoon as I was starting to go through my email archives. It wasn't until I was going home that I actually identified it; that's doing pretty well, for me. Alexithymia has its uses, I guess: I don't seem to feel emotions as intensely as most people. It's going to be worse packing up the house and leaving the Bay Area, but I suppose I'll manage.

Earl Scruggs died. Other links in the notes.

raw notes )
mdlbear: (rose)

It says something, I suppose, that for the second year in a row I've let August 4th slip by almost unnoticed. If Moira hadn't mentioned something last night, I probably would have.

Our stillborn middle daughter, Amethyst Rose, would have turned 20 yesterday. You'll find the full collection of annual posts here.

To answer your questions: Yes, I'm really OK. No, I don't mind talking about her. I don't think a child I loved should ever be forgotten, even if I never got to touch her. My next CD will be called Amethyst Rose, and I hope to get back to putting down scratch tracks this weekend.

Thanks for listening.

mdlbear: (rose)

More on grieving, from someone else who's been there.

mdlbear: (rose)

[ profile] dsmoen has made a good post on grieving -- some people reading this may find it helpful.

mdlbear: (rose)

I don't really like having to post about grieving, but it has a way of coming up. It's a couple of weeks short of what would have been my Dad's 90th birthday, and a lot of my friends are still shell-shocked from the death of John Caspell, so I guess it's appropriate.

I said a lot of what I wanted to say about grieving in this post almost a year ago. It's still worth a read -- the gist of it is my standard advice: everyone does their grieving differently, at their own pace, and the goal is not forgetting but acceptance: coming to terms with your loss. I'll wait while you go back and read it.

But there's always more, isn't there?

My choice of the phrase "shell-shocked" up there was deliberate. It originally came out of WWI to refer to a range of syndromes, including what we now call posttraumatic stress disorder.

... a severe and ongoing emotional reaction to an extreme psychological trauma. This stressor may involve someone's actual death, a threat to the patient's or someone else's life, serious physical injury, an unwanted sexual act, or a threat to physical or psychological integrity, overwhelming psychological defenses.

One of the common reactions to a sudden loss is survivor guilt. It doesn't have to be based on having survived an actual disaster. Especially if you have a low opinion of yourself to begin with, you can start with a friend's death and a passing thought of "why him and not me?" and spiral downward from there.

The universe isn't fair. The universe doesn't give a damn whether your friend was more worthy, or more deserving of life and happiness, than you are. Your friend and the drunk in the SUV, the pebble in the roadway, the patch of black ice, the random blood clot, the cosmic ray particle, were just there in the wrong place at the wrong time, and you weren't.

It's not your fault.

As the Mikado said, "I'm really very sorry for you all, but it's an unjust world, and virtue is triumphant only in theatrical performances."

I know that isn't a very cheering thought when you've just lost a dear friend. And it may well be the hardest thing you'll have to come to terms with, but there it is. I never said grieving would be easy.


2009-02-07 11:39 am
mdlbear: (rose)

Doing the dishes is usually rather calming for me, and gives me a sense of mild accomplishment.

Flashing vividly back to the day I wrote Rainbow's Edge is not helping much.

I'm standing here doing the morning chores
And trying hard not to cry
Remembering all of the things we did
In all of the days gone by.
And there isn't a rainbow this time,
But maybe before tonight
I'll remember enough of the words I need
For the song that I want to write. 

... or maybe not. I wrote that song already.

(11:52) Oddly enough, writing this did help a little. But only a little.


2009-02-05 10:13 pm
mdlbear: (rose)

My father died 10 years ago today. I still miss him a lot.

I don't think I have much more to say.

mdlbear: (rose)

This seems like a good time to post a link to this upstream post on grieving.

What I'm going through right now is somewhat different, though parts of it are still relevant. But there are friends out there who need it. You know who you are -- be well.

mdlbear: (rose)

Got word via this post by [ profile] kshandra that my long-time friend [ profile] meglimir lost her fight against cancer this evening at about 8:30EST, three years to the day after she was given two months to live. Damn, but she fought a good fight.

Robin Hilp; known online as [ profile] meglimir, RubyMeg, Ruby Tuesday, rolybear... we met on alt.callahans years ago, probably the first friend I made online and later met in Real Life. Our older kids are the same age.

She is survived by her husband [ profile] sammyd, sons [ profile] grendies and [ profile] ratlan, godson [ profile] dajonjon, and an unguessable number of friends both online and off line.

[ profile] sammyd's last set of posts are heartrendingly sweet and sad; you should go read them.

[ profile] sammyd's announcement of her passing is here.

(Updated 2008-12-24 07:15)

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

(I'm posting this one because it looks as though several people on my flist could use it. I'm doing fine right now, thanks.)

There are two links here, and they're related only because they both touch on the way a relationship can change after it's over.

The first is this review of a book called Death Benefits: How Losing a Parent Can Change an Adults Life--For the Better.

Death Benefits demonstrates through powerful stories (including the author's own revelatory experience) how parent loss is the most potent catalyst for change in middle age and can actually offer us our last, best chance to become our truest, deepest selves. Safer challenges the conventional wisdom that fundamental change is only for the young; and that loss must simply be endured or overcome.

I probably ought to get this one, but I don't really need to: I can easily believe it. Sometimes you need a whack on the side of the head with a very big cluestick, and that's about the biggest one you can get. That cancer screening you've been putting off? Do it now.


The second is a little more problematic: The Emotions of Grief During A Breakup (via Wikipedia). In particular,

When the person is alive and there was a breakup, this is often when people will try to open up communications with the ex. Recognize that the urge to search is part of the grieving process and you should not act on it. When you are pining and searching, you are in a temporary state and anything you say now can and will be held against you at a later date.

(Emphasis mine) This is probably good advice, sometimes. If you want or need to make a clean break of it, if there's pain or anger or hatred on one side or the other, if you've broken up before and can't seem to stay away from one another, yeah: I can see it.

But if the objective is to stay friends, to cool a too-intense relationship down to a level that you're both comfortable with, it's probably best to keep talking. In many cases, you'll both be grieving, though perhaps to different degrees. Help one another work through it. As friends.

(I'll note as an aside that you'll need to give one another space and time. Call or IM when you have news, or to congratulate your friend when they post happy news in their LJ. Not every day. Maybe not even every week. Drop back to email, perhaps, and the occasional LJ comment. Don't go for dinner and a movie -- that's really courting disaster. Meet for lunch on a weekday when you both have things to get back to at 1:00 sharp.)

As a friend, realize that you want your friend to be happy. Not with you as their lover, apparently, but happy. Stay interested in their life. Help one another through it, as best you can. Be glad you're still friends.


(Added 17:00) Let me just restate something from the last post on grieving: "getting over" your loss does not mean "forgetting about it". Your goal is to come to terms with it, whatever those terms happen to be; to "get over it" in the sense of getting over a challenging obstacle, so that it's safely behind you and doesn't keep getting in the way of your life.

mdlbear: (rose)

Every grief is different, and everyone processes it differently, but the broad outlines of the grieving process are fairly consistent. It doesn't matter whether you're mourning a parent, a dear relative, a child, a friend, a pet, a home, a relationship, a project at work, or something even more abstract: a possibility, a missed opportunity, or your youthful sense of invulnerability. After a certain age, losses become inevitable. It takes not only time but work to get past a loss.

Remember that the objective is acceptance. Not forgetting your loss. Acceptance. In some ways, it's even harder than forgetting.

Acceptance means coming to terms with your loss: making it part of your experience, and putting it in its proper place in your memories. This may involve analyzing what happened so that you can learn from it, in hopes of not making the same mistake a second time. It may involve writing a poem or song, or a letter you will never send. It may involve a very selective kind of forgetting.

It means putting your loss among your treasured memories, carefully, so that you're not thinking of it day by day or letting it get between you and your life, or between you and other people. You'll always remember. There will always be reminders: a chance bit of overheard conversation, a long-out-of-touch friend, a scrap of memory, a color, a flower, a name. You have to make it safe to remember. You must learn to remember the person, not the pain; the lesson, not the loneliness, the good times, not the grieving. You have to get past your loss: make a part of your past, a landmark on your journey.

When most people tell you to "get over it", they mean for you to step over it the way you would step over a mud puddle or a fallen branch: forget it, and move on. (If your friends see you wallowing in the mud, or weeping for months beside a fallen tree-trunk, they can be forgiven for telling you this.) No. Build a bridge of smooth stones across that little stream, and put a pebble in your pocket to remember it by. Take a chainsaw to that tree-trunk, and carve your name on the fresh-cut surface.

It's a healing process; wounds take time to heal. Don't rush the process, or let well-meaning friends rush you, but don't hold back, either. Do the work.

Make an entry in your journal, and tag it so you can find it again. Mark its anniversary, if it's sufficiently important. Write a song, and practice it to the point where you can sing it in public without choking up. Not a miserable song that says how sorry you are for yourself. (OK, write one of those, too; it's part of the process. Burn the manuscript as soon as you can see how awful it is.) Perhaps wistful, perhaps angry, perhaps ironic and funny. Preferably hopeful and maybe even happy. Tell the world you're OK now.

Get to the point where you mean it, when you say that. You will.

mdlbear: (rose)

I've been feeling vague all day; detached, fuzzy; the world seems subdued, and looks as if much of the color had been washed out of it. Grief? Depression? The fact that I didn't have breakfast this morning? Quite possibly the latter, as I'm feeling much better now.

Hadn't realized that my wife's grieving (mainly over the friend she lost just before Consonance, though there's more) could trigger as much of a reaction in me as it seems to have done. My Dad and Amy are coming in out of my past to haunt me again. Well, they're familiar ghosts, at least.

Zyrtec seems to have a substantial bounce-back, even after a single dose. I'll skip it, thanks; then I can have my glass of gin in the evening. Cyclobenzaprine, on the other hand, is wonderful stuff: stopped the back cramps dead, and got me a good night's sleep. Note to self: don't take it in the morning unless you intend to stay in bed all day.

For some reason I find the long, last phase of the grieving process -- acceptance, or reorganization depending on your source -- to be creatively very productive. There will be ghosts in the song, I think.


2007-11-04 08:42 pm
mdlbear: (rose)

I was talking on the phone with Mom this evening; she mentioned that yesterday would have been her 65th anniversary, if Dad were still alive.

I told her that I mention her whenever the subject of breast cancer comes up -- she had her surgery in 1953 and 1966. Hang in there!

I don't suppose it's entirely a coincidence that I've been listening to a sermon on grief that I got from this post by [ profile] gmcdavid, is it?

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