We’re leavin’ together
But still it’s farewell
Tomorrow, it will be six months since I took G to the hospital for strange stroke-like symptoms. We didn’t know, that night, that it would be months before he’d leave a hospital again. We didn’t know that we’d have to relocate our lives, in the middle of a pandemic, to the covid capital of Australia for his cancer treatment. We didn’t know it would be more than half the year–in fact, into a whole new year–before we’d be back to our home.
And maybe we’ll come back
To Earth, who can tell?
I guess there is no one to blame
And, while we are on the final countdown to going back later this week or next week, we are are still another six months from the end of rehab. Tomorrow, he has a total hip replacement; osteonecrosis, cartilage destruction, and collapse of the femoral head the result of a joint infection after his second round of chemo. And then, the real work begins.
We’re leaving ground (leaving ground)
Will things ever be the same again?
It’s the final countdown
The final countdown
“There is a fundamental reason why we look at the sky with wonder and longing—for the same reason that we stand, hour after hour, gazing at the distant swell of the open ocean. There is something like an ancient wisdom, encoded and tucked away in our DNA, that knows its point of origin as surely as a salmon knows its creek. Intellectually, we may not want to return there, but the genes know, and long for their origins—their home in the salty depths. But if the seas are our immediate source, the penultimate source is certainly the heavens. The spectacular truth is—and this is something that your DNA has known all along—the very atoms of your body—the iron, calcium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and on and on—were initially forged in long-dead stars. This is why, when you stand outside under a moonless, country sky, you feel some ineffable tugging at your innards. We are star stuff. Keep looking up.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
I am six in my first memory of that sense of longing for the stars, the pull of belonging to the stars. Dad is driving us to Queensland to visit my grandparents and I am lying on a mattress in the back of the station wagon as the car winds its way northwards along the single lane highway. It is one, maybe two in the morning, and instead of sleeping, I am staring out the back window, the sensation that my home is somewhere out there rushing through my veins. And of course it’s in my blood; the very iron in my body was created in those stars.
The first birthday present G gave me was a night at the Sydney Observatory. It was September 2014 and he’d booked the place just for us with our own private astronomer to give us a tour of the Universe. One of the things we saw that night was Saturn, in all her ringed beauty.
So it’s only fitting, that it is Sleeping at Last’s “Saturn”, that reminds us…
How rare and beautiful it truly is that we exist
On repeat, to sleep
Because I cannot write
Instead I scroll and scroll and scroll
To avoid thinking
To avoid feeling
Words want to write themselves
But if I let them
I will break
And I cannot collapse yet
I still have to disappear
I have been writing to Love. Not my beloved, although I do write to him as well, but to the Great Love. The Love of the Universe. Collective Consciousness Love.
I have been talking to Love and praying to Love. Because there’s not much worth being here on Earth for, except Love.
And then I found this song. But before I’d even listened to it, the title punched me in the throat. I had been writing to Love in an effort to dispel Fear. But what if I wrote to Fear? What if I spoke to it softly? Soothed it with a song? What if I couldn’t dispel all my Fear by writing to Love, what if I needed to write to Fear as well?
And so I did.
I wrote a love letter – a lullaby – to Fear.
When the miles are much too hard
And roads are too long
If my face in your mind
Is an unfinished song
And you’re sure that the right
is all heading for wrong…
Won’t you write the fear a lullaby
Remind her it’s okay to cry
And find me in the folds of your desire
Tell the worries in your way
To try again another day
Shut up and love me til they all expire
Coz I’m not done with you yet
And this weight around my neck
Is nothing but a make-believe goodbye
So write the fear a lullaby
I sleep with lights on
Always afraid of the dark
But I’ll follow you
Someone I love(d) sent me a photo with a message the other day that said “remember this place? xx”
And I do. It’s my old apartment building. Nine years ago, I lived in the far middle apartment with a view of the beach. I miss this place. It was small but cozy. And it took me less than fifty paces to put my feet in the sand.
Back then, I’d sit on my balcony and smoke. And listen to Jefferson Airplane.
A friend I haven’t heard from in a while got in touch today. Our contact is sporadic but consistent. I have loved him in all the ways it’s possible to love someone over the last 21 years. I love him still. He’s had a rough month; a sliver of the hard news, his cat passed away in his arms a few weeks ago.
I once wrote a poem about her. Or about him. Or about us. Whatever it was about, it was called:
His cat is whoring herself
out to anyone
with a warm lap.
She chews on a belt loop
and looks up
when prodded to stop.
She sighs, stands, turns around and
returns to sleep.
It is surreal
or perhaps just
to think that life could be
She wakes again
murmurs and bathes
without leaving my lap.
Circa September 2010
Sleep, baby Piper. You were loved. You will be missed.
It’s the 23rd December 2019.
I tell you this, not because you asked me what the date is – I’m sure you’re capable of reading a calendar – but because today marks five years since I packed up my VW Golf, drove from Sydney to Gippsland one last time, and moved in with G.
It’s forever and five minutes, all at once. And it always will be.
And time fell away
With the sound of each step
If the stars align then
For us they were meant in the lunar sky
It’s Monday night and I’m at work again. On overtime. Again. I’m not sure if it’s a hard day’s night or a hard night’s day. Either way, we are short on people at the moment and it’s hard on everyone.
By the time this song was put onto a mix tape for me, Jeff Buckley had already been dead for two years. He was only 30 when, late one night in May 1997, he waded into the Mississippi River and drowned while going for a spontaneous swim. His body was found a few days later, upstream in Memphis.
As 2019 draws to a close, I’ve been watching the rounds of photos comparing people’s current self to their self from the beginning of the decade. In late 2009, I had just turned 31 but was severely entrenched in anorexia and yet to choose recovery. I didn’t believe I’d see the end of year, much less the end of a new decade. By the end of 2010, I was attempting recovery. Cautiously, with only a little hope.
Life has shifted many times over the past 10 years. Many things have changed but unfortunately, some have not. I’m in treatment again and have been for a year. It’s 25 years since Jeff Buckley released this song, a year after I first developed anorexia. But this time, I’m hoping that with the right treatment, I can say the Last Goodbye.