Once More with Feeling

After a punishing massage, I indulged in a roam through Staples and a sit down at the Starbucks in the nearby grocery. I needed a notepad for rewrites of my current novel and a change of scenery. 

Since mid-winter I have been avoiding going into town unless I had no other choice. It gets tiring, the in and out of the truck, trudging through snow, shielding from the prairie wind, and tip-toeing over ice, but now that spring is stubbornly muscling her dainty self onto the scene like Tinkerbell on steroids, the cooped up feeling is pushing me out of the house.

As usual, I lost track of the time and had to hot-foot it home to get lunch for Rob. He comes home most days, but today as I was finishing the food prep, he called to say he wouldn’t be able to make it because a meeting was scheduled unexpectedly and he wouldn’t have time. Disappointing, but it happens. 

So there I was with lunch and no table-mate and no real urge to gobble in front of the computer screen. Surfing is provoking a “meh” feeling lately.

Mad  wrote a Buffy the V post recently that has run around in my mind ever since and it occurred to me that perhaps I could watch a bit of Buffy with my lunch and peruse the episode guide. Yeah, I am a geek like that.

And that is what I did. I pulled out my favorite season – six – and put in a disc then settled back with my soup for about a half hour of paranormal deliciousness.

Season six is my favorite. It’s dark, angsty and full of character evolution. It is everything that good story-telling is, including being experimental. The episode, Once More with Feeling, is actually a musical and I love me some bursting into song on a moment’s notice. I wouldn’t mind at all if real life was like that.

There was a time when I strongly identified with this collection of work. I still admire the craft that went into the creation and it was interesting to connect with it again.

One of my favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a musical with all the characters bursting into song and dance like Singing in the Rain or West Side Story. I got to thinking about this when I came across a group on Faceback called “Why yes, I do just burst into song”. It reminded me too of when I was young and I would string together popular songs to tell stories in much the same way they do in the movie Moulin Rogue. I would imagine my characters singing songs to tell their stories alone or in duets. I was a very odd child. When I was older, and even now, I used songs to cheer myself up or onward, narrating my own life through tunes. If my life were a musical today the musical narrative would be comprised mainly of love songs. I caught the end of Faith Hill’s Breathe on the way to deep water aerobics tonight and it captured perfectly the way I feel about Rob. Sometimes these days, I am so happy that I almost feel guilty. However, it’s not as though I have forgotten. You never forget, but I am done letting those moments that crop up on occasion dominate or interfere with my life. There will always be memories and anniversaries and times of the year that prick at the underside of consciousness in an attempt to awaken the past.

I awoke the other morning shortly before the alarm from a dream about Will. I have gone from never dreaming about him to dreams where he is part of the white noise to the current state of affairs with him turning up on occasion and interrupting dreams already in progress. He is never who he was though. Not the man I fell in love with or married. He is the sick and demented version of Will. What he became after the disease took hold and had eaten away significant portions of the white matter that covered his brain. In these dreams he is like a child or a little old man. I can’t communicate with him in any meaningful way and I spend a great deal of time comforting and caring for him. In the latest dream, he begged me to just hold him as though he were a small child and I woke up from the dream in tears. Though there is something to the theory that dreams are your unconscious mind trying to tell you something important or the way your mind problem solves while you sleep, there isn’t much to this dream that needs deep analysis on my part. I have always wished that we could have known what was wrong sooner so that he and I could have had a chance to talk about his wishes and say goodbye, and I wish I could have been able to care for him instead of putting him in the nursing home. I also wish I had been able to take time off work to be with him those last months he spent in hospice. But I couldn’t and I can’t fix that now. And I also know that it’s October. The month that Will went into hospice; where he died two years ago this coming January.

Last year around this time, I began living most of the “firsts” that lay grieving people so low during that first year. Nearly everything important was packed into those last few months of the first year and it was very hard to cope with these events when I was also dealing with personal illness, raising a small child and working a full-time job. I did it though. Not well, and I would never counsel people to do what I was told to do, which was to wallow in my misery. I was fortunate that my innate tendency to question “authority” and my inner musical buoyed me up enough that I didn’t get stuck in that mode. I know there will be moments in the coming months that will bring up memories, good and bad, but isn’t that just part of life?

The trip we took back to my folks recently provided me with a chance to visit places from my childhood. The farm where my uncle and grandmother lived for instance. By chance the call of nature (yeah, I pee outdoors now like a Canadian) put me behind the car-shed, and as I walked back to the homestead from around the barn I paused for a moment to look up at the door to the loft. It was closed and the ground beneath was covered with ankle deep grass. It was just a over and month and 35 years ago that my uncle fell to his death from that loft after having a seizure. Later that same afternoon, we stopped at the cemetery where he is buried. The first person I was close to and really loved who died and left me. And it’s been thirty-five years. I can still feel that pain. Remember with clarity the last time I saw him. Regret that I never got the chance to say goodbye. People might argue – widows would argue vehemently – that it’s not the same as losing a spouse, but they are full of shit. Loss is loss. And who is anyone to say that one type is worse or more painful? It took years to get to a point where Jimmy’s death wasn’t part of me every day. It will take as much time or more to incorporate Will’s passing into my psyche as well. And there will be more dreams. And they are just dreams. But the musical that is my life is what I hear when I am awake and living and loving and laughing, and that is what counts.