Friday, 15 April 2011


Friday, 15 April 2011
In the weeks following what happened to my brother, I was ruined with sorrow. I remember little about the detail of that time, but am left with an overwhelming awareness of detachment – I was me… yet somehow… not. That is to say – my body was there, but I always feel like my spirit was elsewhere – wrenched away from the rest of me by the weight of my anguish and helplessness. In desperate attempts to get it back, I used to spend all night scavenging the internet for scraps of comfort. I felt a razor-sharp sense of isolation; I was looking for solace in someone – anyone – who would really understand how I felt but my searches bore no fruit. I whirled in an agonising loop -- I could not be comforted or of comfort to anyone. It was a very dark time. I’d lost my baby brother, and I didn’t know how to stop myself from falling out through the hole that he had left.

Even though it has been 15 years and the title of this post is exactly what happened to our family, I can’t bring myself to actually say that word. I’ve jailed those three syllables at the bottom of one of my lungs and never let them even whisper themselves out. I say, “…since we lost Jonathan,” or sometimes, “My brother died when I was 20.” I’ve talked here before about how talking about what happened usually makes other people uncomfortable on my behalf, so I don’t solicit conversation about it for their sake, really. 

Jonathan is always in my thoughts.  Sometimes I think about his life, sometimes I cry about his death.  Sometimes I delight in his presence.  Lots of times I am reminded of him because I hear sad news of similar tragedies in other people’s families. 

A few years ago, what happened to me happened to someone I used to go to school with.  We weren’t close; I couldn’t claim any particular acquaintance with him other than that we’d been in the same class in elementary school and high school but when I heard the news that his younger brother, too, had taken his own life I felt the shadow on my own heart make its presence known.

I feel an odd sense of … I don’t know – duty and obligation are both too strong a word; but I still wonder if I could be for others what I so desperately searched for all those years ago.  But how do you make such an approach?  You couldn’t, without appearing intrusive or creepy.  But that sense, whatever it is, doesn’t ever seem to abate, and I think about my former classmate occasionally and wish we lived in the same town, such that the likelihood of our paths crossing might be increased.  There is a lingering unresolvedness (and I know that’s not a real word) which burned a little warmer this week, fuelled by some sad news that another brother - a friend of a friend - had ended his own life as well.  Last night I dreamed about it all.  I woke up and wrote it all down (er… well, typed it into my iPhone). Click on the picture to read the dream properly.

I hope they're all okay.

Some reference:

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - Part Four

Wednesday, 13 April 2011
day 14 - a song that makes you fall asleep

I first heard this song in 1995. I was living at Kings College in London and attending the University of Western Ontario. Through an administrative cock-up I found myself living not on the main campus with my classmates but instead down the road in an all-female residence at a Catholic college. I hated just about everything about the place – I had a couple of good friends, but I felt ferociously out of place there. I used to sleep through far too many lectures by staying up all night in the torturous company of someone who I thought was the bees-freakin’-knees, who barely noticed I was there, irrespective of the frequency and intensity of all the twirl-hairing and joke-laughing, gloss-lipping and reveal-cleavaging I could muster. One morning, my clock radio alarm woke me up and the University radio station had just started playing this song.

I lay there – paralysed by that swooping and swirling slide guitar. Frightened to even bloody breathe lest I miss any part of it. Fell back into a peaceful sleep once it had finished, but not before I managed to scribble down “swoopy swirly guitarey song at 7.53am” or something. Later, I rang the radio station to find out what it was – and lo, my love of Afghan Whigs was born.

day 15 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry 

I would have liked this song to have been around a decade earlier than it was actually released. I call to mind one or two occasions that the listening of this track at full volume on repeat would have been particularly appropriate. Jason won’t let me listen to this in the car if the kids are with us, on account of the sweariness. Ha ha.

day 16 - a song that you wish you heard on the radio
English radio leaves a lot to be desired compared to the great selection of genre-specific stations I grew up with in Canada.  I’ve been in the UK now since September 1999 (12 years is a long time to be away from such a great home-grown music scene) so this is a song I wished I could here on the radio here, instead of having to listen to Canadian radio online!  UK readers – listen up, this is one of my favourite tracks from a cracking Canadian band out of London, Ontario (town of my alma mater).

day 17 - a song that makes you laugh
When I was little, we had a taped copy of a record we’d borrowed from some friends of ours called BBC Children’s Favourites.  It was a mad compilation of wacky songs (mostly released in the 60’s and 70’s in England) and whenever we went on a road trip or holiday, it was the first tape we looked for to make up our in-car entertainment.  These three were our favourites on that tape, and coupled with our ridiculous attempts at singing along (accents and all) they always had the four of us in stitches.  Which, incidentally, was a useful diversionary tactic to prevent us from going bonkers while my Dad scrambled about the countryside looking for motels which still had vacancy in the wee hours of the morning.  

Stay tuned -- Part 5 is coming soon!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Matfen Hall - Mammy P is 35

Saturday, 2 April 2011
My brilliant parents bought me a night at Matfen Hall for my birthday... which was yesterday.  35?  How did that even happen?

We had a lovely time -- the food was disappointing; fellow vegetarians beware -- but I took some really lovely pictures and thought I'd share them here.

The Dutch Garden.  I love taking pictures of the outside through windows.

The ceiling of the Drawing Room where we had (a not very nice) Afternoon Tea. Happy birthday to me!
The view from our room.

The Great Hall. This is where our wedding took place in August 2002.
Part of the front elevation on a night time stroll.
More outside from the inside.
I love this shot of the trees that surround the hall.
We were married right in front of that massive fireplace.

Walking down those stairs with knocking knees in a wedding dress... tricky!
We had a lovely time -- our room was upgraded to a premium when we got there which was a fantastic surprise!  We had a blast reminiscing about our wedding all those years ago.  We ate, we swam, we went in the steam rooms and saunas, and had drinks, and laughed and laughed.  The only thing that took the shine off things was that the food was rubbish (we had Afternoon Tea in the Drawing Room, some snacks in the Keepers Lodge and breakfast in the Library Restaurant... as vegetarians we were not impressed at all) which was quite disappointing, but it didn't spoil the fact that Matfen is a special place for us and hopefully it won't be another 9 years before we get to go back again. 

Check out this old gal:

Don't feel a day over 23.  24 tops.  :-)