It's 11:47 and it's been bucketing down for a good hour, that lovely blankety feeling mixed with the slightly buzzy awakeness of the 19th hour of being awake. The peak after the dip.
It's delicious, this quiet house feeling. This is the time when things get done that can't possibly happen when there's washing to be done, dishes to put away, mail to sort, chickens to feed, fire to stoke, kitty litter to change (finally). This time - slightly mad, a bit itchy and everything feeling so sneaky - is when the best things happen.
I quietly fire up iTunes and at last I can hear this tune that's been swinging around in my head for days. Gently as she goes, my favourite parts are 'shiny shiny sky' and the oohoohoohs after ..'there's a window there'. I listen to music all the live long day, but moments to pass time enjoying something just for fun and to satisfy a want often fall short of getting everything done. This banjo! It seems to match my calmed heartbeat. Gorgeous. I've been waiting for yonks to have some time with those oohoohoohs.
So I've been meaning to write an update to this post. Yesterday it was two months (not exactly to the day) since Rel passed away, and I wanted to check in. How are you doing? Leave a comment, I'd really like to know.
I say two months because it was a Tuesday when I found out. I had just got my hair cut, I'd had acupuncture earlier that day, and I'd stayed in town on Monday night on a friends couch so I could do my city slicker appointments. I had talked with Sam my hairdresser about Rel because we both knew her. I told her she wasn't very well, worse than she had been before. We were worried. Then I got the call about twenty minutes later.
I will always be grateful to Dans for calling to tell me. There's some pretty hardcore bonding that goes on when that kind of information passes on from one person to another. It takes moments but you remember it for the rest of your life. A piece of your world smashes to smithereens and you know it. It was a difficult drive home down the Monash, I didn't know what to do (but I was driving so what was there to do but arrive at my destination?) It felt like such a lonesome journey knowing that Rel wasn't going to be around anymore.
Yesterday I had slept on the floor of my friend Adam Quayle's loungeroom, took myself out for breakfast and went to acupuncture, did a quick pop in at Heide to get something from the gift shop there and then went for my haircut. We talked about Rel, and babies, and life out of town, and trashy tv shows. I'm doing ok, I realised. I'm past the worst hideous parts.
I had hit the deck with a pretty bad flu about a month ago with nothing to do but lie there and feel miserable. Fever and an extremely runny nose and a lot of whining to my partner. Such discomfort for about a week. Lots of tv and sweaty sleep, soup and delirium and salty potato chips. I craved plastic tasteless frozen pizza, so Tracey went out and fetched some for me. It was such a crucial part of the grieving process for me, (the flu, not the pizza). I had to grind to a halt and sweat it out. I bounced back to functioning after the usual time and rest, changed ever so slightly from before the flu.
Now I'm at a point where I think of Rel constantly, but it's different. Every day I miss her, but there's no longer a confusion about when I'll be seeing her. No more tiny nanoseconds of crushing realisation. These days it stops me in my tracks more to try and imagine how her closest people are traveling along, my heart breaks for them and my eyes well and I wonder how on this everloving earth they are. No, that's not it. I wonder and I can send a message or make a phone call and find out. It's not that, it's more hoping they're ok. Hoping and wishing that this day will be kind to them. With such great love comes a ripping void at the end of a life, when we are apart. I wish with all that I am that this moment and this day and this week will be ok for Rel's people. I wish for bursts of happiness and light and laughter (but is that too much to ask?) if not now, then some day.
Yesterday after my haircut, instead of driving home and remembering feeling so horribly lost and alone I popped in on Dans, Rel's bestie. She kindly offered me Rel's mug to sip tea from and we had a lovely chat and walked her dog Bundy. Our visit had all the best elements - chats and dogs and records and tea and a walk and some autumnal foliage and honesty and connection. It did me good. Both of us, really.
I read a quote from David Steindl-Rast that Pip put on Facebook the other day "The root of joy is gratefulness" and it rang out like a bell. I am so grateful for cups of tea with my new friend, met through our old friend. It means so much.
Now as I sit here in the stillness listening to Sweet Jean on a low volume appropriate for 12.38 am, I remember that two weeks before she passed away Rel sms'ed me while I was on air and had played one of their tracks, asking about who they were. She looked them up but found nothing to buy yet on iTunes. Their album comes out over the next month or two, and I bet she would have loved it.