jmgoyder

wings and things

Having a laugh in the midst of grief: Imagined conversation 62

Anthony: I really liked what you wrote yesterday.

Me: Why, thank you, kind sir!

Anthony: The Boney M clip was wonderful.

Me: I knew you would appreciate that. I wish now that I had thought to play it to you in the nursing home. Oh well – the benefit of hindsight and all that.

Anthony: Yes, I did get a little tired of The Office, especially the American version.

Me: I know. Sorry about that but I loved it and it was a brilliant way of passing the hours in the nursing home. I would give anything now to be sitting next to you, holding your hand while you dozed, or stared, mystified, at a millionth episode of The Office, eating olives and sipping wine on a sunny Sunday like today. Or else, chatting with my mother as she did her hairpin lace, both of us on either side of you, our chatter inevitably putting you to sleep.

Anthony: She really did love me, that mother of yours, even though I broke your heart when you were still just a kid of 18. And then broke it again.

Me: Again?

Anthony: By dying.

Me: Oh, I see what you mean. Yes, she really did love you. To begin with, no. I am quite sure both of my parents were appalled that their innocent, teenage daughter had fallen for a middle-aged man who was at the opposite end of the spectrum of their belief system, Christianity. If I recall correctly, you were a self-declared atheist and, as a rather evangelical adolescent, I convinced you that an agnostic stance might be safer. We did have some rather heated theological discussions.

Anthony: Yes, I slipped into Heaven via the back door.

Me: What?

Anthony: Just kidding, Jules!

Me: One of things that most fascinates me about grief is the fact that it is, actually, really fascinating. I can watch that Boney M clip and cry and laugh in the same moment; I can remember the first moment I saw you and the last moment I saw you as if 40 years of knowing each other is a single, resonating clash of unexpected harmony. Now that you have been dead for nearly a year, I love you just as much as I did when you were still alive.

Anthony: I have never quite understood how your mind works, Jules, but if it is of any comfort, I miss you too.

Me: In just a few days it will be the first anniversary of your death which is so weird because it feels like it was just the other day. I am not quite sure what I am supposed to do on this day. Do I go somewhere – away? Ming has asked me the same question – should we go out for breakfast? What do you do on a deathday? August itself has paralysed me somewhat, Ants, which I did NOT anticipate. I feel like I am at some sort of event where you have to choose between various PTSD showbags!

Anthony: I will be having a similar day, Jules. I think it would be a good idea to simply have a nap.

Me: Okay. I just want to get to September and out of August.

Anthony: Perfectly understandable, Jules; after all, I was your knight in shining armour.

Me: You were also a horribly cruel, heart-breaking bastard! Remember our first argument, underneath the clothesline just after my dad died, and I called you a selfish pig?

Anthony: Shhhh! I am in Heaven now and I do not want to jeopardise that.

Me: I am so glad that we figured out it was a family farm, financial situation and not personal. 57-year-old bachelors do not usually get married. I think the expectation was for you to leave your inheritance to either your siblings or nieces and nephews.

Anthony: Why are you bringing this up now?

Me: Because I am not afraid any more of the backlash after we announced our engagement. I was so naïve then! You were so wonderfully brave (although I did wonder why we were taking a case of champagne to accompany our engagement announcement). This is hilarious in retrospect!

Anthony: Bravo, Jules!

Me: When I look back at that scene, champagne flowing, beaming expressions on every single face, I am amazed at what happened next.

Anthony: And…?

Me: Well, the funny/paradoxical thing is I actually do not care anymore about the person who hurt you most and I wish I had developed this ability to be indifferent earlier in my life.

Anthony: Make peace, not war.

Me: I thought the saying was more like, make love, not war, via John Lennon? Your roomie?

Anthony: There is no need to stoke old coals, Jules.

Me: Why do you not want me to tell the truth, Ants?

Anthony: Because I am already dead anyway. It does not matter!

Me: Okay….

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Anthony: Have a laugh, Jules!

Me: Good idea!

 

 

 

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Daddy Cool

I received an email this week, from the funeral directors, reminding me that it was nearly a year since Anthony died and offering links to grief counselling etc. I thought this was rather lovely as it affirmed that my August anxiety issues are perfectly normal – phew! There is nothing quite like being reassured that your abnormal behaviour is actually normal….

Anyway, in remembering the blur of my funeral arrangements, I recall being somewhat disappointed that my choice of exit music/song wasn’t played louder as the funeral ended. It was the Boney M 1979 version of the song Daddy Cool; and, at the time, I was 20 and he was 43. We were just best friends (all the romantic stuff happened much later) but we both loved Boney M.

I probably posted the link to this song last year but here it is again. Risqué, full of innuendo, hilarious, and wonderfully mischievous, this song catches a glimpse of the Anthony I fell in love with, and the daddy cool who Ming never met.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Daddy+Daddy+Who+Cool&&view=detail&mid=EBB60415B4807E19572CEBB60415B4807E19572C&&FORM=VRDGAR

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Imagined conversation 61

Me: Thank you.

Anthony: That sounds a bit foreboding.

Me: I am so grateful, Ants.

Anthony: That sounds a bit final, Jules.

Me: You have listened, and even responded, to my grief-stricken ramblings with your back-to-the-futuristic voice with such patience.

Anthony: Your voice, actually…. and I have all the time in the world.

Me: But….

Anthony: A minor detail.

Me: You don’t even sound like you anymore. You sound fake.

Anthony: I am doing the best I can under the circumstances….

Me: Since you died, five of my friends have also lost loved ones, so I am learning about the multi-faceted nature of grief. Two sisters have lost their mother, two wives have lost their husbands and one husband has lost his wife

Anthony: Not lost, Jules. I have located all of them and they are lovely group of people.

Me: Oh I suppose you are now going to tell me they’ve joined your fictitious volleyball team or something else trite.

Anthony: Angels make very good umpires; trust me.

Me: Grief is not self-pity, trust me. It is a bit like an adventure into the unknown.

Anthony: So that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Me: I guess so but it is such hard work; it can be absolutely debilitating. I had such a handle on the anticipatory grief but no way of knowing how it would be once you had actually died.

Anthony: I know you hate clichés but why not just go with the flow?

Me: If I did that, I would just stay in bed forever. I have to fight this rotten grief; it is just as exhausting as trying to go with the flow – so frustrating!

Anthony: What does Ming say?

Me: He emits pearls of wisdom the way you always did,; he lets me cry into his shoulder if I am in crying mode, like last night – argh; and he admires what you and I had/have in terms of love.

Anthony: I couldn’t have dreamt of a better son.

Me: I am so proud.

Anthony: So am I.

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Imagined conversation 60

Anthony: I thought we weren’t going to have these talks any more.

Me: You sound hurt.

Anthony: Not hurt exactly, more nonplussed.

Me: It is all the details of death that prevent any finality and, yeah, that dreadful word, closure.

Anthony: Like what?

Me: Like the stupid Probate thing – registering – via our lawyer, your Will to the Supreme Court – to prove that I am your beneficiary, executor, wife etc.

Anthony: So how are your inherited paddocks?

Me: Oh, swimmingly, Ants – the rain has been relentless! Anyway, I need some photo ID of you for this probate process and all I can find is a very scary portrait of you on an out-dated passport.

Anthony: Why is it scary?

Me: You look like a thug!

Anthony: So what happens next?

Me: Apparently, once we get past this probate thing, I will become officially entitled to everything – the house, land, your shares, your holiday house in Bermuda – everything!

Anthony: I thought you thought sarcasm was the lowest form of wit, Jules.

Me: And I thought death was simple, Ants. How could I have possibly anticipated the amount of red tape that would surround your death, or the length of time if would take for this probate thing?

Anthony: I am so sorry, Jules!

Me: Why? Not your fault but I tell you what, Ants, I am getting things clearly written and legal-easy for Ming in case I die sooner rather than later. You never know.

Anthony: You never know what is around the corner.

Me: You used to say that to me all the time in a funny way!

Anthony: Jules?

Me: Yes, oh wise one?

Anthony: Tell Ming that it is all going to be splendid.

Me: Okay. I will. And if it is all right with you, I would like to continue these conversations every now and then, for awhile.

Anthony: Good idea and I am relieved..

Me: Me too, Ants. I love you so much!

Anthony: And the whole of Heaven heaves for you too, Jules.

Me: Bleah!

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Photo taken before Ants got really sick – maybe 2007?

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Thank you, Mother, for this wonderful poem

THE GIFT OF GRIEF.
She scoops it up
Cupped in her hands
And lifted high
Like incense.
It spirals gently up and up.
Her nostrils flare
The smell of driftwood.
Held heavy in her palms
But light as air.
His face appears
And disappears
Like fire flame images
To warm her heart.
He’s here
And There
Forever.
This is Gift.

With love from Mother in August 2018.

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Imagined conversation 59

Me: Sorry I called you an old man the other day, Ants.

Anthony: Perfectly understandable, Jules.

Me: Bev is back!

Anthony: You have it the wrong way around, Jules. Bev never disappeared; you did.

Me: Did I?

Anthony: It is my fault. You abandoned friendships, and even Ming, in lieu of caring for me.

Me: Did I?

Anthony: You are still doing it Jules. Ask Ming.

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Imagined conversation 58

Me: I had no idea, until now, as the anniversary of your death approaches, that my grief would turn into anxiety.

Anthony: It happened on New Years day, remember?

Me: Yes, but I got over that quite quickly with the help of some anti-anxiety medication prescribed by the doctor. So I saw him again today and he understood.

Anthony: How is he?

Me: He is fine, Ants, but I am talking about me here. Me!

Anthony: Sorry, Jules. How are you?

Me: Anxious, Ants! Waking up in the early hours with a racing heart, sweaty forehead and an irrational terror of the sun rising just in case I cannot face the ordinariness of the day, the emails I have to answer, my volunteering commitments, social arrangements, family get-togethers. I enjoy all of these things immensely but then the anxiety hits, and it hits hard, and renders me sort of helpless.

Anthony: What can I do?

Me: You are already doing it, just like you did when you were still alive. If I had a problem, at work, with Ming, with a family/friend dispute, and even with the nursing home, you would listen and enfold my shaking hands into your big warm/cold hands and there was always a semblance of peace. That’s not possible now.

Anthony: Why not?

Me: Because you are dead, Ants, and I am having a lot of trouble accepting that it is nearly a year since you died and my missing you is probably ridiculous as you were an old man anyway. I should be more accepting of what was inevitable but I still struggle.

Anthony: I don’t appreciate you calling me an old man, Jules.

Me: Well I don’t appreciate you dying so fast, Ants. I have nightmares about that.

Anthony: I am never cold anymore.

Me: So?

Anthony: You were always so worried about me being cold in the nursing home. I am never cold now and never too warm either. I am in perfect conditions.

Me: I miss everything about you – your mad humour, your adoration of Ming, your sense of irony but I guess I mostly miss how much you absolutely adored me.

Anthony: But I do still adore you, Jules! Will that stop the anxiety?

Me: Yes, I think so, Ants, but these are imagined conversations; they are not real.

Anthony: This is real, Jules.21100168_1096504780485218_1332072107_n

 

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Imagined conversation 57

Anthony: I know.

Me: I really hoped that August might not affect me, but it has.

Anthony: Nearly a year since I last saw you.

Me: Those last 24 hours of your life haunt me now because I worry, all over again, about whether you were suffering. Eight hours in the hospital on a trolley, waiting for I am not sure what now! You were barely conscious and I was probably nearly fracturing your hand by holding it for so long.

Anthony: I remember.

Me: My worst memory is, having asked you if you were okay over and over again, you shook your head, no. That is when I began to realise things were bad because for so many years of me asking if you were okay, you would always say. Fit as a fiddle. And it wasn’t my decision to ambulance you to hospital, Ants; it was taken out of my hands. I am so sorry!

Anthony: Jules, the hospital hours are forgotten to me. All I remember is you getting the ambulance to take me back to the nursing home so that I could die in my own bed. That was a blessing.

Me: Did you know you were going to die then, Ants?

Anthony: No, and I am so sorry it was so fast, Jules.

Me: Ming understands my troubled state and even predicted August might be hard for me.

Anthony: Ming understands a whole lot more than that, Jules!

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Photo: Courtesy of Mandy Goyder

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Imagined conversation 56

DSCN0928Me: Today, I had some rather wonderful visits with people who have dementia.

Anthony: What is the point, Jules? They have all lost their marbles.

Me: So did you!

Anthony: Rubbish!

Me: Okay, whatever you say.

Anthony: Why are you crying?

Me: Because I miss your sarcasm so much, Ants.

Anthony: Do you have to hug and kiss them so much, Jules?

Me: Please say you are not jealous, Ants, because that would be ridiculous. Anyway, I only do the hugging/kissing thing casually and tend to just put my arm around a shoulder here and there.

Anthony: That sounds reasonable.

Me: I wish you were still here to advise me like you always did before, about my toomuchness.

Anthony: You have the Ming for that, Jules.

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Imagined conversation 55

Me: This is my fifth attempt to write the same thing. I just cannot seem to capture the flavour of your voice properly, Ants.

Anthony: Does it matter? Which voice?

Me: Well that is probably what the problem is. There is your long ago booming, laughing voice, then there is your more recent quiet, stumbling voice, and now there is your imagined heavenly voice.

Anthony: Does it matter? I rather like the heavenly voice.

Me: It matters to me that I get it right, Ants! I want these conversations to mean something.

Anthony: You worry too much, Jules.

Me: I know, but the other thing is that I have run out of photos of you so I have to use the same ones again and again and sometimes I forget that I have already posted that photo or this photo….

Anthony: None of this matters, Jules (although I do prefer the more flattering photos of me).

Me: I love you so much, Ants.

Anthony: Good, Jules.

Me: You are supposed to say it back!

Anthony: I LOVE YOU, JULES!

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