I am listening to my dear friend Cathie Malach’s album. (https://cathiemalach.bandcamp.com/releases)
It is a wonder of heartful spirited original piano creations titled Heartland. One of the tunes entitled February, is dedicated to me and Richard. Cathie’s father died shortly after Richard, and we shared the intimacy of mutually mourning our losses. After I moved to Ohio, she also moved from Woodstock to the mid-west, to Indiana, sharing yet another major displacement to be near dear family/friends. We have resettled into our respective new homes, where we are busy rediscovering ourselves.
Unofficially, Cathie was a death doula for me and Richard. She simply stepped deeper into our lives the minute she knew Richard had begun his journey in Cancerland. Being as skilled a massage therapist as she is a talented musician, she knew precisely how compromised I was in the body she had tended so well. Less and less able to manage my daily life, I had to climb up and out into a level of worldly interaction I never expected. Cathie helped with every decision on the journey of dismantling our home and moving to a more accessible rental closer to town where we had to set up temporary residence. That rental house became Richard’s temple for dying. His ashes joined with the same nearby stream where I grew up, where he and I played together as young lovers, and where our children also joyfully splashed when they were small. It flows on without us during this deep freeze. I picture it frozen white with only a hint of movement within the dark flowing depths below.
(More detailed stories of the past are in the Caring Bridge section of the blog. I have entries from there still left to transfer, but at least half the material is available. At a certain point I needed a break from rereading what was so recently raw. I think I am almost ready to complete the task.)
Cathie’s music soothes and awakens me, stirring my own creative juices. Now that I am well enough to breathe a healthy lungful of air, it calls me to open my inner ears to unborn songs that need my help to be heard. I have had a quirky reaction to listening to music by myself. I don’t even litsen to the radio, or watch a DVD since Richard is gone. I just- pull away from it. It isn’t as if he and I always shared these things together. His taste in movies was not always mine, and if I didn’t get involved right away in the plot, characters, or documentary subject he chose, I left to go read a book on my own. I still mosly read a lot. We loved the same music and I used to enjoy riding in the car with him, listening to his vast array on Pandora. Preferring our news in other media forms, we hadn’t had a TV hooked up for years. I can easily listen to or watch just about anything with others present. I have heard other widows and widowers say they also had a hard time with former beloved entertainment. Grief is not meant to be rational.
Now I have a regular date to listen to NPR’s program, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me every Saturday morning with my friend Lynn down the hall. As she says, “Laughing together with someone is the best way to kick off a weekend.” I agree. The “listening to music alone” ice is now broken with Cathie’s gifts pouring through me. My older daughter Emilia was just here, hanging up a few more pictures for me. Her husband, Zoran, comes with her tomorrow and his royal tallness will be our handy ally in finishing the decorating job. We will have dinner, and enjoy my sparkling new home. Though I am not talented with technology, I will endeavor to get some pictures up when it is completed.
There are memories and stories to attend each piece of art. There is a curious delight to see them now, some of which have traveled with me, literally, since my chlldhood. Somehow, they all arrived here safely in my own temple of living and dying, housed inside my sunshine yellow room.