jmgoyder

wings and things

Imagined conversation 33

Me: I have another little surprise for you.

Anthony: Kill me softly.

Me: You really need to see the sarcasm therapist again. Anyway, one of my blog friends is an artist and she’s agreed to work with me on a book of our dialogues.

Anthony: She must be mad!

Me: No, she is really sane and she ‘gets’ you. She has already sent me examples of how she might draw you. And me. Our interactions. Before and after. And it’s perfect.

Anthony: Before and after what?

Me: Your death. Oh and by the way can you please let Marion know that he would be great for the role but I need actors who are actually still living.

Anthony: Noted.

Me: I think I have entered a new phase.

Anthony: Surprise me.

Me: You are dead and I am just conjuring you with these imagined conversations.

Anthony: I’m still with you, Jules.

Me: In my memory, in my consciousness, yeah, but you’re also gone and I am so sick of feeling so sad.

Anthony: So don’t feel sad.

Me: How?

Anthony: Write.

 

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Imagined conversation 32

Me: Ants, guess what? I found out about this film writing competition yesterday that had a deadline of midnight last night so I worked all day on my submission – it only had to be a few pages of script, with a synopsis and….

Anthony: Steady on, Jules….

Me: I only had five pages to write the script of your life and death, our love story, and to convey what dementia is like.

Anthony: Let me guess. Am I your dementia figurine?

Me: Stop it! This is important. If I am successful I’ll get to work with professional scriptwriters and get flown to Sydney. It could be such a great opportunity to get my message out there.

Anthony: Your message?

Me: About how dementia doesn’t have to be this terrifying, tragic thing – that it is possible to have fun with dementia. Oh, I don’t know, Ants – I’m still figuring it out.

Anthony: Are you going to admit that you lied to me about me having it – dementia?

Me: I did NOT lie to you, Ants – I just didn’t tell you.

Anthony: Well I think that’s pertinent.

Me: Oh, okay, thanks!

Anthony [talking to someone else]: Yes, she gets like this sometimes.

Me: I heard that!

Anthony: Sorry, Jules, just having a chat with Saint Somebody about your script. She thinks it’s a very good start.

Me: You do realise that if I write a movie about you, I will actually be the main star as the patient, long-suffering, dedicated wife?

Anthony: As you wish.

Me: What? Don’t you mind not being the main star?

Anthony: Marion said he’d play my part.

Me: Marion? Who’s Marion?

Anthony: John Wayne. We’ve become friends. His mother wanted a girl; it’s complicated.

Me: And I thought it was me going crazy – it’s you!

Anthony: Jules?

Me: Ants?

Anthony: Write the script – write the movie. You are on the right track.

 

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Imagined conversation 31

Me: I haven’t wanted to talk to you lately.

Anthony: I noticed.

Me: Ever since talking to the headstone people I just kind of wanted to run away from the situation.

Anthony: What situation?

Me: Your death.

Anthony: Oh, that – yes.

Me: I’ve gone past the nursing home a few times now, on my motorbike lessons, and it always gives me a bit of a jolt. I saw a photo of you and C. at the nursing home and it shocked me to know that was only months before you died. I keep wanting to see you; it’s horrible, like a yawn of yearning. I’m not trying to be poetic either – it feels like the middle of me is doing this yawwwwwwn thing all the time.

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Anthony: Am I boring you?

Me: Very funny, not. Not that kind of yawn – the kind where you need more oxygen. Isn’t that what a yawn is?

Anthony: [Silence]

Me: And then a gaspy thing happens and I can breathe again and then, finally, I can cry.

Anthony: Why do you want to cry?

Me: I don’t want to cry really but sometimes when I nearly cry and the tears don’t come I feel like forcing it.

Anthony: I’m listening.

Me: Other times one of your favourite songs comes on the car radio and crying just happens. It happened earlier today.

Anthony: I’m sorry I left you in the lurch, Jules.

Me: Sometimes I wish I hadn’t loved you so much. I let you mean too much, Ants – you had become my whole world. Maybe that wasn’t healthy, maybe that’s why I feel so lost now without you.

Anthony: Jules, do you realise what rubbish you are talking? Look at all of the things you are accomplishing now – the motorbike licence, the kayak lessons, the film script idea, helping Ming with his psychology diploma, the volunteering. You are not lost without me.

Me: I feel physically sick, like I am going to vomit, a lot of the time.

Anthony: But you’re free now, Jules. You should make the most of it.

Me: How? Anyway, I never wanted to be free of you!

Anthony: Never?

Me: Not once and I’m pretty sure I’m being honest here.

Anthony: I ended up needing you too much didn’t I.

Me: Sort of. Yeah, okay, I didn’t like that feeling of being so needed I guess.

Anthony: You just need to get your strength back, Jules. Do some aerobic exercise. It does wonders for the body and soul.

Me: WHAAT?

Anthony: Swimming, cycling – keep it up, Jules. Don’t give up – oh and the meditation is also useful.

Me: [Silence]

Anthony: I’ve shocked you, haven’t I.

Me: Yes! Are you being tongue-in-cheek or genuine? Meditation? I can’t believe that word actually came out of your cynical mouth.

Anthony: OM

Me: OM?

Anthony: Feeling better yet?

Me: Actually, yes.

Anthony: All right, so, whenever you don’t feel like talking to me, just OM me and I’ll OM you back.

Me: OM?

Anthony: OMMMMMMMMMM

Me: [Laughing]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Imagined conversation 28

Me: You know that guy I was telling you about – the one in the nursing home who reminds me of you?

Anthony: You mean my nursing home?

Me: No, I can’t bring myself to go back there – yet. I’m talking about the nursing home where I volunteer.

Anthony: So who’s the guy?

Me: His name is K. and I thought he was around your age but one of the nurses told me he was 97!

Anthony: And he reminds you of me?

Me: Yes. It’s uncanny!

Anthony: Thanks a lot. Such a wonderful compliment – not.

Me: Well he doesn’t look a day over 81, Ants. Sorry. He’s got the same starey eyes and the same slow smile; he even seems to have a wittiness like yours. When I asked him how he was the other day, he said he was 150 years old. It was just like the kind of thing you used to say – so funny.

Anthony: Is he sexy like me?

Me: No, for God’s sake, Anthony. Don’t be so ridiculous!

Anthony: Well, I was just wondering.

Me: He’s crazy about Pip.

Anthony: That’s all right – as long as he isn’t crazy about you.

Me: I told him about you dying and he said his wife had died too and we had a bit of a sad moment.

Anthony: You do realise that I’m not 81 anymore, don’t you.

Me: How does that work?

Anthony: Not sure but I feel extraordinary well.

Me: That makes my heart get all warm and toasty. Remember how you used to say that?

Anthony: Plagiarism!

Me: The other day, P. said I should find another beau.

Anthony: What?

Me: Don’t worry, I told him that I’d had the best and there was no topping that.

Anthony: You can tell P. from me to bugger off.

Me: I’ll be more polite.

Anthony: You can quote me on that, Jules, with my blessing.

Me: Oh, so I say, “By the way, P., Anthony told me to tell you to bugger off with his blessing.”

Anthony: That sounds about right.

Me: He won’t believe that I was talking with you.

Anthony: That’s his problem. Anyway back to the old chap, K., if he’s 97 he must be pretty close to the end.

Me: Yeah, he doesn’t look so wonderful.

Anthony: Shake his hand for me.

Me: Why?

Anthony: It seems like a reasonable thing to do.

Me: Okay, I’ll do that. I think he’ll understand.

Anthony: He will. Tell him I’ll keep an eye out for him when the time comes.

Me: Wow, that’s nice of you.

Anthony: You seem to have forgotten what a splendidly marvellous person I am.

Me: I haven’t forgotten.

Anthony: That’s good then.

Me: G’night, Ants.

Anthony: G’night, Jules.

Me: I adore you.

Anthony: Perfectly understandable.

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Imagined conversation 26

Anthony: What’s with all the new clothes?

Me: Retail therapy.

Anthony: What’s that supposed to be?

Me: Forget it. You wouldn’t understand.

Anthony: I like it. You’re looking particularly well groomed these days.

Me: Why thank you, kind sir.

Anthony: Stylish even. You’d be a knockout if you wore higher heels.

Me: Oh for God’s sake, you can forget that.

Anthony: The red boots are, well, they’re very red aren’t they.

Me: So? I bought them before you died but I never got to show you so every time I wear them I feel a bit of a pang of disappointment.

Anthony: They look good, Jules, I’m only teasing.

Me: I kind of bought them for you actually, indirectly.

Anthony: A likely story.

Me: No, really. I used to like the way you liked the way I love my boots.

Anthony: You definitely have a fetish for them.

Me: Not so much now.

Anthony: Isn’t it about time you bought some new ones?

Me: What? I can’t believe you’re encouraging me to spend money.

Anthony: You can use my money. I don’t need it any more.

Me: Wow, you’ve changed. What happened to the tightwad I married?

Anthony: He turned into a butterfly.

Me (laughing): You crack me up, Ants. Okay, well I don’t need much encouragement so what colour do you suggest?

Anthony: Purple and white polka-dots?

Me: You are insane!

Anthony: Why not?

Me: I’ll google it. Ah here we go. What do you think?

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Anthony: Not bad. What do they cost?

Me: Let me see … $5,200.

Anthony: [Pause]

Me: Are you there?

Anthony: I’m in shock.

Me: Yes, so am I so don’t panic. I’m not that self-indulgent and I can’t imagine who is. Okay, how about these?

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Anthony: How much?

Me: Around $40. But they’re gumboots.

Anthony: They really are ‘you’ though, aren’t they.

Me: You think?

Anthony: Different.

Me: Are you sure?

Anthony: Why not?

Me: Thanks but I’m really very tempted by the first pair – the more I look at them….

Anthony: Jules, come on.

Me: You are so gullible.

Anthony: I’ve broken into a sweat.

Me: I bet!  I wish I could buy you something – anything, even a slice of black forest cake or a dozen oysters.

Anthony: Plenty of that here.

Me: Really? Oh, of course. I know, but I used to love buying you presents and treats and stuff.

Anthony: You’re too generous.

Me: It was fun.

Anthony: Tell you what, buy the gumboots for me. Indirectly.

Me: Sold!

Anthony: You’re a burster, Jules.

Me: I can’t believe purple and white polka-dot boots even exist. How could you have possibly known?

Anthony: I’ve become a fan of google too.

Me: Now I really am shocked! But you don’t even know how to turn a computer on.

Anthony: I do now. I’m one step ahead of you. Now buy the boots. Right now.

Me: Your wish is my command. Thanks, Ants – this is so enjoyable!

Anthony: It is, isn’t it.

 

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Making friends with grief

I have learned so much about grief through my imagined conversations with “Anthony deceased” (as he is described in some legal documents I had to sign the other day) that I thought I’d share them here.

One of the things I’ve discovered is that if I wake up to what I know is going to be a day of acute grief, there is no point trying to evade it (one of the things I was trying to do). Now what I do is sort of greet it kindly, not exactly in a “Hi Grief” kind of way, more in an accepting way, almost as if it is a friend. After all, my grief about Anthony’s death, personified, has more empathy for me than anybody else possibly can.

In a way, the imagined conversations are a way of addressing Grief directly if that makes sense (if you are not sure what I mean then rest assured that I’m not really sure either!) Every time I write one of these conversations, even the ones that were a bit contrived and didn’t really flow) it helped somehow. I fought against doing it for awhile because I didn’t want people to think I was going nuts. I also didn’t want to become dependent on these conversations on a daily basis, to the preclusion of other more ‘normal’ daily activities. But I don’t care about either of those things now. Writing these conversations has often been fun and is sometimes quite enlightening.

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During a grief workshop I attended recently, Pat Kelly, a grief counsellor https://www.facebook.com/pat.kelly.18488169, pointed out that there is no one way of grieving. I found that very comforting in light of the imagined conversations I was/am writing because these have helped me more with my grief than any amount of kayaking, motor-scootering, cycling, swimming, socialising and volunteering (yes, I have been busy) have. All of these activities have helped enormously of course, but writing down conversations I imagine having with a now-well Anthony has been magical.

In re-conjuring Anthony’s voice as a younger, fitter man I have remembered all sorts of wonderful things that I’d forgotten – our holidays down south when Ming was young, our debates about whether animals went to heaven, our private jokes, our delight in the moonflowers blooming, his passion for motorbikes and classic cars, the parties, and so on. I’ve remembered poignant moments and sad times as well but mostly ‘talking’ with him has been a joy. I used to tell him everything even when he became less able to converse so, during the nursing home years, I sort of forgot about the way we used to talk and talk and talk. Remembering these conversations has been like a gift.

Making friends with Grief in this manner reminds me of how I ended up making friends with Dementia. In doing so, a lot of the associated fear diminished and a feeling of wellbeing returned.

I suppose since it’s my grief, after all, I am kind of making friends with myself again too. I’ve been working on that anyway with my wonderful psychologist, Daniella Princi https://www.facebook.com/yourintrinsiclife/ whose program has provided me with all sorts of interesting tools for living my life the way I want to live it.

One thing I know for sure is that Anthony would be proud of the way I am coping with his death and he would be chuffed to think I am pretending to converse him still. He was always very accepting of my idiosyncrasies, as I was of his.

Me: I’ve sort of made friends with the grief now, Ants.

Anthony: Good on you, Jules.

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Imagined conversation 23

Me: I woke up this morning from the most terrible nightmare about you, Ants.

Anthony: Not very flattering, Jules, but good morning to you too.

Me: No, I don’t mean you were a monster or anything; on the other hand….

Anthony: Go on, I’m interested.

Me: Well, there are a few scenarios where I am asking you if you are seeing an ex-girlfriend – not a real one, that you really went out with – a new one who I’ve never heard of before. Anyway you say no the first time I ask you. Then, the second time I ask, you say yes, but just for dinner and you assure me that nothing untoward is going on. But, the third time, you admit that you’ve fallen in love with her.

Anthony: Ah the plot thickens….

Me: It’s not funny, Ants; I’m still trying to shake the nightmare off!

Anthony: Okay, sorry. So what happens next?

Me: During the rest of the nightmare, we are at a party. All of our friends and family are there and so is SHE. You are avoiding me and I’m upset but trying not to show it. I’m worried that you are overdoing it and amazed at how well you look considering how ill you are.

Anthony: So it’s another one of those dreams where I suddenly jump out of my wheelchair and start dancing?

Me: No. I like that dream; in this one there is no wheelchair in the first place. I keep wanting to ask you if the nursing home staff know you’re out and about and do you have your pills but it’s impossible to even get close to you.

Anthony: Am I the life of the party?

Me: Stop fishing! Yes.

Anthony: Good….

Me: Then a rumour starts circulating that you are going to announce your engagement to this other woman. Apart from the shock of hearing this, I am bewildered because you and I are already engaged. Anyway, as you are too gutless to tell me yourself, you send a friend over to tell me that you were never in love with me and that you are sorry.  I am devastated but try to act cool because people are starting to look at me sympathetically already.

Anthony: Well it’s not true, Jules.

Me: So I say to this friend that I’ve been with you for over twenty years but still waiting for you to choose a wedding date. Feeling desperate, I do a bit of a whispered rant to the friend about all of the years I’ve cared for you with your kidney cancer, prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease, and the friend quietly commiserates,

Anthony: Who’s the friend?

Me: B.

Anthony: Oh, B. Great bloke.

Me: So then the most horrible scenario unfolds. You and this other woman announce your engagement to a shocked but delighted crowd.

Anthony: What do you do?

Me: I leave with as much dignity as I can muster. I find my car and drive away, sobbing.

Anthony: Maybe that other woman is your alter-ego?

Me: No, she has long, thick curly hair and a horsey face, and she’s ten years older than me!

Anthony: Oh.

Me: Is that all you can say – ‘Oh’?

Anthony: I’m sorry, Jules.

Me: What for? The nightmare, or what happened in the nightmare?

Anthony: Both.

Me: Well I guess it’s no more real than these conversations.

Anthony: Ouch.

Me: I felt so absolutely abandoned and alone and angry but I didn’t want everyone at the party to know how I felt.

Anthony: Maybe that’s what the nightmare was all about.

Me: When did you get your degree in rocket science?

Anthony: Superlative sarcasm, Jules – bravo!

Me: Anyway, I just wanted to tell you about it. It’s so good talking to you.

Anthony: Remember how we used to debate the difference between loving someone and being in love with someone?

Me: And how you used to say you loved me but you weren’t in love with me? Yes, difficult to forget that.

Anthony: But remember the day it all changed?

Me: Oh yes! I’d forgotten about that!

Anthony: Let’s save that for our next conversation, Jules. I’m exhausted!

Me: But I’m the one who had the nightmare! I hope I don’t have it again. Are there any nightmare tweakers where you are?

Anthony: I’ll see what I can do. And Jules?

Me: Yes?

Anthony: I’ve only ever been in love with one person.

Me: Who?

Anthony: Now you’re fishing.

Me: Well, who?

Anthony: YOU.

 

 

 

 

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Imagined conversation 22

These imagined conversations are my way of ploughing through the grief of losing my wonderful husband to pneumonia last year. I am not going mad and I am not delusional; I just miss talking to Anthony, so I decided to imagine the conversations we might have….

Me: It was our 25th wedding anniversary last month.

Anthony: I know, Jules, I know.

Me: I went to a grief workshop that night and told the others that it was our 25th wedding anniversary and J (remember J?) congratulated me/us.

Anthony: J? The fair-haired woman?

Me: Oh, sorry, Ants, I forgot that she only met you after you were dead. J is/was so kind and I am amazed that your funeral parlour hosts such wonderful workshops for people like me, who are struggling with their grief.

Anthony: Nothing like this was in my mind, Jules, when we got married. My only hesitation was due to the age gap; I didn’t know I was going to get sick and old at the same time.

Me: I didn’t know either, Ants. I was prepared for you getting old before me but I wasn’t prepared for all of your illnesses.

Anthony: Sorry, Jules.

Me: Not your fault, Ants. Somebody said to me the other day that it must be a relief that you died and I felt as if I had been punched. It was a well-meaning comment but it made me think about how much the fact that you had Dementia precluded people from visiting because they were scared.

Anthony: You think too much, Jules. Don’t worry about any of that because I’m fine now.

Me: I’m not.

Anthony: I miss you too, Jules.

Me: I want you back, Ants. I miss you so much that my brain is all foggy and unfocussed and I have never, ever felt so alone. I just want to talk to you!

Anthony: You are talking to me.

Me: So is that okay, if I keep talking to you?

Anthony: Of course!

Me: Yeah, but this is just me pretending to talk to you, Ants. I have to eventually get used to the reality that you are dead. I’m just as crazy about you now as I was when I was 18, but you’re gone!

Anthony: I’m not gone or we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Me: So where are you?

Anthony: I don’t honestly know….

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Imagined conversation 21

Anthony: Didn’t you already write this … twice?

Me: Yeah, I know, but Ming doesn’t want to be part of these conversations, Ants, so that was a bit unwise on my part.

Anthony: Why?

Me: Well, it’s difficult enough recapturing your pre-dementia voice without also trying to invent Ming’s might-be voice when he isn’t the slightest bit interested.

Anthony: That’s my boy.

Me: Exactly. You see what I mean, then. These imagined conversations become really contrived if I include him and he….

Anthony: So, Ming has moved on?

Me: Well, I think you know the answer to that, Ants; Ming moved on a few years ago, before you even went into the nursing home. He did try.

Anthony: Why would you think that I would want my teenage son to hug me when I couldn’t hug him back?

Me: I just wanted you to know how much he loved you, Ants.

Anthony: By forcing him?

Me: Okay, I get it and I’m sorry. I get it now.

Anthony: Jules, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Ming knows me and I know Ming.

Me: So should I just leave you guys alone? Is that what you mean?

Anthony: Just leave him alone, Jules, and let these conversations be just between you and me. It’s easier that way.

Me: I feel a bit stupid now to have contrived those last two dialogues, with a pretend-Ming. Plus he gets so angry when I try to do that.

Anthony: So why do you do it?

Me: Because I want it all back, Ants! Can’t you understand that? I want the three of us back together ten years ago before you got so bloody sick!

Anthony: Jules?

Me: What now?

Anthony: You can’t have it back – it’s gone. Ming understands this and it’s time you did too.

Me: And now you sound like all of those people I want to smash who say “isn’t it about time you moved on?”

Anthony: But isn’t it?

Me: Sometimes I really HATE you for dying. I absolutely HATE you!

Anthony: I know, but….

Me: Yes, of course you know, don’t you, you smug, supercilious, heavenly bastard – I am so angry I can hardly function, Ants; I want to kill the world.

Anthony: You don’t mean that.

Me: That has been your pat answer for anything remotely dramatic I have ever said. Stop always trying to shut me up!

Anthony: Jules?

Me: Now what?

Anthony: These conversations are coming to an end.

Me: Why? What did I say wrong? I’m so sorry, Ants – I didn’t mean any of it and of course I don’t hate you….

Anthony: Ming has already done it.

Me: Done what? What, Ants?

Anthony: Ended it.

Me: But….

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Imagined conversation 20

Anthony: Who are all of these men you keep thinking about?

Me: Will you please STOP reading my mind like that; it’s so disconcerting!

Anthony: Well, who are they?

Me: If you can read my mind, surely you know who they are.

Anthony: But I want to hear it from you, Jules.

Me: Okay, they are just a bunch of CEOs, film executives, producers and….

Anthony: I don’t like it.

Me: What? I thought you’d be proud of me!

Anthony: [potent silence]

Me: Oh. My. God. Are you actually jealous? I can’t believe it. Yes, you are jealous, aren’t you!

Anthony: Well I am a bit, actually. I don’t want you to want them to like you; it doesn’t feel right.

Me: Ants, there is absolutely nothing romantic going on, I can assure you. It’s you I want them to like, not me!

Anthony: That’s good then.

Me: So are we clear now?

Anthony: Sorry, Jules. I just don’t want to lose you.

Me: You couldn’t lose me even if you wanted to, Ants.

Anthony: So what do all of those guys think of me?

Me: They think you are wonderful, Ants – absolutely wonderful! Star material!

Anthony: You are so full of BS Jules.

Me: I’m meeting one of them tonight for cocktails because….

Anthony: For God’s sake, Jules – don’t do anything stupid.

Me: Gotcha!

 

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