Sunday, 3 October 2010

Day One

I'm going to try and join the thirty posts in thirty days that Angie has put together at Still Life With Circles.

I don't know how many I will be able to find something to write about (and I think I'm already running a little behind schedule) but I'd like to have a go.

Firstly to get away from my oft-discussed 'same three damn posts' problem. Secondly because I'm a sucker for the first question. Anything for a song. I'll link any old post to a song, however tenuous, as you may have noticed if you've been kind enough to hang around here for a while.

So . . here goes.

Day 1 - a song that reminds you of your child, or one that you can't listen to anymore and why.

The song that reminds me most strongly of Georgina is Nick Cave's 'Into My Arms' because it was all I could hear after she died. Although I think that I have only played it perhaps five times since then, as I now find it unbearable, it was on a mental loop. Over and over. Into my arms.
The very first time I ever held a child of my own was to take her in my arms as she died. A tremendous privilege.

"I don't believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Not to touch a hair on your head
To leave you as you are
And if He felt He had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms"

Because that was how I felt about her. Despite the fact that she was so tiny and so ill, I didn't want to change anything about her. I loved her precisely as she was, every tiny hair on her tiny little head. I wish that I could hold her in my arms again. I miss her so much.

A song that reminds very strongly of that time in my life, August to December 2008, leading up to Jessica's final release from hospital is a song called 'This Year' by The Mountain Goats. The refrain is 'I am going to make it through this year, if it kills me.' Now I've seen the video it seems even more apt. The band get bundled up, kidnapped and forced to perform under what seems to be some threat of violence. That did feel a little bit like the end of August 2008 for me.

There is a feel of physical menace to this song, of being about to battle something knowing that you might come off the worse. Until that time in my life, I'd never really had to be brave. I'd never been in a fight or even in very much physical pain. I have always been a weak person,  in body and otherwise, quick to expect others to save me or leap to my defence.

But during those months, it was fight or go under.

I had to go back into that same room where Georgina died.
And keep on going back in there.
Day after day after day.
I sat beside that box and I felt angry, useless, hopeless, hopeful, stupid, superfluous to requirements, overjoyed, overwhelmed, sick to my stomach, desperate, devastated.
But I. had. to. sit. by. that. box.
Opposite an empty space.
Sometimes I just wanted to run away, at others I just wanted to die.
My heart, my life, my every desire were in that body weighing less than two pounds, in a plastic box.
So frail.

It was time to man up, ante up, shape up or ship out, grow a pair, walk like a man, talk like a man.
Except the female version.
Make it through this day and the next day and the day after that.
Take the news of brain bleeds, kidney failure, retinopathy, laser surgery, cyst removal, sepsis, infection, death.
Take it and don't you dare start to fall down.
Even if it does start to feel like it's killing you.
Four months can feel like a very long time.

Towards the end of December it was snowing, Jessica had moved to a hospital within walking distance and I remember wading in through the snow, listening to this on my iPod. It felt as though my whole life would consist of this, snow, freezing wind in my face, going to visit Jessica in hospital, wondering where Georgina was and more bad news.

I'm glad this song was there. It got me through those freezing walks to the hospital.

That combined with X Gon' Give It To Ya.
Thank you Mountain Goats and DMX. Although I doubt you wrote your songs with a situation like mine in mind. I could feel you straightening my spine and squaring my shoulders. Bulking them up so I could carry this. Helping me kick the snow out of the way. Helping me feel that I could kick anyone and anything else out of my way that cared to stand in it.
I think my feet would have failed me on that walk to the hospital more than once without you.


  1. "The very first time I ever held a child of my own was to take her in my arms as she died. A tremendous privilege."

    Oh my, Catherine. I have no words that could possibly do justice to the beauty and pain of that statement. I just wish you had never needed to write it.

  2. Well, I thank you for introducing me to this band. and, in a way, your beautiful daughters.

    A girl named Cathy wants a little of my time....

    (though you don't seem like a Cathy)

  3. First, I admire your goal of 30 posts in 30 days. Impressive.

    I think all of your posts ought to be required reading for those seeking to understand 'what it's like' but this post...This is exactly what it's like to walk into the hospital each day (or to wake up at the hospital) dreading what you're going to hear.

  4. Nick Cave is haunting, I just feel like my heart is going to break when i watch the video.


  5. Like a mad sadistic nutter I just clicked on the link to see if i can manage. Not a hope in hell. :-P

  6. oh Catherine, that song was on constant repeat in my brain for months. Now, I can barely bear to look at the CD, because I can't feel that raw, not right now. Not anymore.

    Damn, I'm a sucker for a list. I was thinking of the 30 days project for a bit now, because of the "same 3 posts" dilemma you mentioned. I'm going to have to go over and see the twist Angie's put on this. A great idea.

    Thank you for sharing the words and the melodies that get you through.

  7. As always your music selection is as beautiful as what you write. I am glad you are taking on this challenge. I always look forward to your posts, even if you think you only have 3 in a loop.

  8. Oh my, I can't listen to that Nick Cave song without crying my eyes out. It's beautiful. It was played at the end of a friends funeral, it was a truly superb send off for a great guy and I totally lost it when they played that song.
    I'd never heard of the Mountain Goats before and that song is actually pretty cool!