A gift from the muse

Hi, friends.

I hope this finds you well. It’s an odd time for me to be posting, but the Muse just gave me this. I am presently uncertain as to the future of this blog. I think I will continue to post intermittently, but more so than before.

Untitled

Reconciliation
Is an act of faith
It need not be face to face
My heart to yours – ‘I forgive you’

Now the red mist has dissolved
I know in my very soul
There was nothing to forgive

The word that became a wall
Between you and I
Dissolved by pure love
Really, that was all you ever gave

I searched for harsh brick words
To build a wall, to shield my heart
You were gone – I was sorry and angry

In the pure light of healing
Sorrow and anger gave way to release

Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,

ncblogsig

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Release…

Hi, friends.

I hope this post finds you well. In moments such as these, I am struck by the apparent inadequacy of the English language to describe the feeling with which I am presently imbued. I have felt this softening, when the world itself seems almost new, before. Up to this point, it has never been accompanied by a sense of my own soul returning. That is the only way in which I can attempt to describe this feeling.

Whilst all my other attempts at healing from the loss of Kim have underscored the transience of that which we call ‘healing’, this truly feels like a new beginning. The events themselves are not undone, but nor am I by them. That with which I had been burdened has fallen away. It is the greatest gift to be able to live again, and feel that my life is my own, and it is a gift I wish for each and every person who may read this.

When I think about how far I have come in these last few days, I am amazed. Of course, there’s a hint of fear that this may not last. (Rationally, though, I can remind myself that’s self-criticism talking.) The incredible thing about this experience is that not only has the weight of that loss dissipated completely, so too has the self-criticism I had dished out needlessly over the last few years.

Following the news of Robin Williams’ death, I found myself in much the same place that I had been before with the loss of Kim. I felt somewhat bitter, and disproportionately angry. The worst of it was, the more I reassured myself that it would pass, the less likely it seemed to become that it would. Remembering the benefit I’d gained from working with Alana Sheeren last year, I took the plunge and asked for help again.

We talked a little over Skype about what was bothering me, and a few days later, she did some work which helped me overcome the feelings I was having. There were even some feelings I didn’t realise I was harbouring. I am amazed, but not surprised, at how different I feel. If you’d like more information, please feel free to contact me, using the Contact link above. 

Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,

ncblogsig

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Sharing a grief narrative – how much is too much?

Hi, friends.

I hope this post finds you well. I know it’s been a while since I last posted, but I haven’t felt I had much to say. However, with a recording session in the pipeline, I have been thinking about how we share our stories, and where we draw the line.

One of the songs I intend to record at this future session is ‘The View From The Mountain’. Regular readers will need no introduction to the story behind the song, written two years after the death of my friend Kim from an eating disorder. The potential problem with this song lies in the fact that there is far more of a story attached to it than would ever be appropriate to share in the setting of a live performance.

As a musician and a writer, I see the story behind a song as paramount to the audience’s enjoyment. With this in mind, I have worked out a way of sharing the story behind ‘The View From The Mountain’ with the bare minimum of words, and the most minimal detail. I have to admit that this is primarily for my benefit, given that if I were to tell the story from start to finish, and then attempt to play the song, I would likely dissolve.

However, even with the very best of intentions, I feel that it will be impossible for me to go into that session without having given my friend an idea of the story behind the song. I need to lay the foundations at least, so that I can relax fully whilst performing, knowing that there is the possibility of emotions spilling forth.

In order for this to happen, I have written three versions of a letter which I will give him well in advance of the session. Yes, we could have a conversation about it, but on the other hand, I’m not sure I would want to subject him to over-information.

I play the song fairly regularly when playing live, as each performance is part of the act of forgiveness. I did not have the chance to say goodbye to Kim in the same way as I did with Chris. Coupled with the manner and timing of Kim’s death (I heard of her passing on the day I was due to go into the studio to record my tribute to Chris) this led to an irrational anger.It is my intention this time to lay all that to rest, and allow myself to form a new relationship with the song, and with Kim or the memory of her. Fondness feels a step too far, but the least I can do is think of the good.

Do you share stories of your online friends who have passed away with others? How do you decide what to share, and what to leave out? I’m curious, so if you’re inclined, feel free to leave a comment. 

Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,

ncblogsig

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Today I remember…

Hi, friends.

I hope this post finds you well. I have been writing, but it has taken other forms. Between the fourth of July and the first of October, the 50 Songs in 90 Days (50/90) takes place.

I have attempted it for five years, and completed it once, in 2010. I have no illusions of being able to complete it this year, but I enjoy the community, so I stick around.

However, that is not the reason why I am posting, as you may have guessed. Today would be my dear friend Chris’ birthday. I’m not sure what I’ll play when I play live tonight, but ‘Wherever You Are (You’re Still An Angel)’ may be somewhere in there. I suppose as long as I play with heart, and put everything I can into each song, she’ll be with me all the way.

It is a privilege to have loved, and been loved, quite so much. Of course, that love continues. Now, it’s present in that creative spark that drives me to write and share my soul with the world. I could write another song, but most of what is left to say is between Chris and I.

Chris, at the age of 15, in England. She is standing next to John Lennon's piano.

Chris, at the age of 15, in England. She is standing next to John Lennon’s piano.

May the love she gave in life be reflected back abundantly in Paradise.

Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,

ncblogsig

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Moving FORWARD!

Casey Bottono:

I’m resharing this, with a tip of the hat to Joan Hitchens of Navigating Grief, who shared it on Facebook. Personally, I disagree with the imperative, ‘you have to…’. I would argue that this is the simple fact of moving on.

If I am utterly honest, I am still in the process of moving on from the loss of Kim, but that is the level on which this post speaks to me.

Originally posted on Camp Erin Parents:

Image

I had planned to write about something completely different this month, until I saw this posted on a friend’s Facebook page. I saw the picture and thought, Yes!! Oh how I wish that everyone could understand and appreciate this!

I know I’m not the only one who reacted the way I did when I saw that picture. I know that so many of you despise that “moving on” phrase. And I know that far too many of you have been the victim of some who feel that your “moving on” means you’re “forgetting” your past.

I cannot tell you how much I want the phrase “moving on” removed from our vocabulary. I’d like to make it illegal for anyone to ever say it again in a negative way. I’d much rather hear, “moving forward” – it has a much more positive sound to it, don’t you think?

Moving on has…

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Sometimes you slip…

Hi, friends.

I hope this post finds you well. I came back here today, and I’ve just realised it’s been nearly two months since my last post. During that time, I have finished my degree (pending results on Wednesday) and in so doing, found a new way to share the story of the friendship I had with Chris with a new audience.

My final dissertation ended up being two chapters, and an epilogue, of Following Her Lead: A Memoir of Online Friendship and Online Loss. As more time passes, it becomes easier to share the story of the friendship I had with Chris with others. Despite the pain of that loss, there was incredible joy in the fact that I knew her.

Though sharing that story has become easier, there is another story which jostles for position that I can’t share yet. Though knowing Kim provided support that I would not otherwise have had, the other side of that particular coin was that her health was so unpredictable. Our friendship was, to be honest, nothing short of an emotional rollercoaster.

However, I have found a way of dealing with that, it seems. I find myself playing ‘The View From The Mountain’ on a weekly basis at jam sessions, and it seems to help. From the early performances where I thought I might end up giving in to the emotion which threatened to overwhelm me, I now view the song as a celebration of the person that Kim was, in spite of what happened to her. Though I would not say it was easy to write, or that it is now easy to play, it is a pleasure to have a way of remembering which does not involve my first thought being in anger.

I have written before that I believe strongly in the power of sharing to heal. It is a gift to find somebody who understands what you find yourself going through to share in the journey with you.

Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,

ncblogsig

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Surprised by peace at Easter

Hi, friends.

I hope this finds you well. I am pleased to be able to say that I am feeling better than I have done at Easter for some time. I recognise that part of this is the fact that so much time has passed since the early painful days, but on the other hand, I have worked for this in a way that I would not wish on anybody.

Much of the work of this grief experience has been in understanding that ‘Death ends a life, not a relationship’ (a quote from my favourite memoir Tuesdays with Morrie) and that there can be joy in a world without, just as there is joy in a world with those we love. It is a different kind of joy, and the pain of ‘s/he would have loved that’ persists, but all it means is that we enjoy for both parties now.

In February, I wrote a new song entitled Flowers from the Cross’, which I hope to be able to share soon. With that song, I finally honour the experience I had last Easter.

Whether you celebrate Christ’s resurrection today, or you are simply celebrating another day on the planet, I wish you all the joy and peace that you need.

Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,

ncblogsig

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