pegkerr: (candle)
Today is the anniversary of the awful day that Rob and I learned that the suspicious PET scan he had recently received was not lymphoma coming out of remission, it was leukemia (caused by the first chemotherapy he'd received) that would go on to kill him a little less than three months later.

It is Samhain, the day when the souls of the dead are said to approach as close as they ever do to the living, Halloween, the day before All Soul's Day.

It seemed to be an auspicious day to do a Tarot reading, and given the day, the anniversary, and the fact that I most usually use my Harry Potter tarot deck, it seemed right to find a Deathly Hallows Spread. I found one quickly:

1 2 3

1: The Elder Wand - something that is both winning and losing
2: The Resurrection Stone - what has been lost and will not, cannot, come back
3: The Invisibility Cloak - what you've come to accept

Here is the Tale of the Three Brothers and the Deathly Hallows:

I drew three cards. All three were reversed. I thought about the reversals, but the reading seemed clearer if I just ignored them.

1: The King of Cups

The King of Cups. The book about the Harry Potter tarot says this can be the archetype of the injured King, the man who fell into guilt and learned wisdom through pain and suffering.

Well, I don't know about guilt, but this card to me is plainly Rob. Cups are water. Rob was born in November, and that is under Scorpio, which is a water sign. Wounded, pain and suffering: check. He won because he defeated lymphoma, but he lost, defeated by leukemia. And I lost him. Cups seems right, as he is right at the center of my grief (emotion, love).

Edited to add: I've thought more about why Rob's card would be in this position, the Elder Wand position. The fact is, when it came to fighting cancer, Rob thought he was undefeatable. And for a while, it looked as though he was right. He went through four or five chemos, radiation, four surgeries, immunotherapy. He beat the odds to an extent that it astonished his doctors and his--arrogance, I guess, that he would always beat them almost irritated me. At one point, I asked him how long he thought he would live with lymphoma. "Oh, fifteen to twenty years, I guess." Eyebrows raised, I asked the doctor. "I met you a year ago," the doctor said, "and in that year, eighty percent of my patients with your diagnosis have died."

Like the eldest brother in the tale, Rob was undefeated. He beat lymphoma; he was lymphoma-free when he died. But he was taken out by a stealth opponent, who betrayed him, arising directly as a result of his chemotherapy.

He fought cancer for four and a half years, but I think he only really understood he was going to die when the doctor told him so the day before. Like the eldest brother in the tale, Rob died in his sleep, rousing only the last few seconds before his breath stopped to see me and Fiona, keeping watch over him.

2: 6 of Cups - Happiness

What has been lost and will not, cannot, come back? Well, the thought that happiness is lost and never coming back — isn't that a kick in the teeth. Yet, yes, the happiness I had being married to him is over. That is what grief is about. Note that this card specifically references Felix Felices. We always said that Rob was lucky in his fight with cancer...until he ran out of luck.

Another tarot book talked a bit about how this card (if you ignore the reversal) is about the past, previously, formerly. Memories. Thoughts of past loves. Faded, vanished. Longing, yearning. Traumas, mistakes.

As I enter this season of the anniversaries leading up to Rob's death, this also feels right. This feels like I'm looking back at those painful points (Halloween when we learned of the leukemia, Thanksgiving, when he entered the hospital for the last time, Christmas, when we were so sad to be apart, and the end of January, when he died).

Edited to add: After thinking about it, I realized: Harry used up the Felix Felices (gone, never to come back) to appeal to Slughorn on behalf of his mother (gone, never to come back) in order to get a truth he needed. An interesting play off the concept of memory/nostalgia incorporated in the card.

Thinking some more about why this card is in the Resurrection Stone position. The second brother in the story could not stop looking backward toward his lost love (nostalgia), feeling that all his hopes of happiness were tied to her. But she was gone, and the knowledge destroyed him. This card is a warning, like the warning that Dumbledore gave Harry when he was spending too much time gazing into the Mirror of Erised at his lost family: "It does not do to dwell in dreams, Harry, and forget to live."

3: Princess of Disks

This card, I'm pretty sure, is me. Luna is a character we meet in the aftermath of grief. The book says,
"Love, warmth, protection, being in tune with nature, being at rest with oneself, caring, growth.

The Princess of Earth (Disks)
[I was born in April, under the sign of Taurus, which is an Earth sign] is a somewhat shy but very creative and warm-hearted young woman. She is trusting and open to new ideas and willing to follow through on her plans, no matter what. She is reliable, kind, and in tune with the cycles of nature within herself and within the world around her. Her insights are powerful, not necessarily at a superficial intellectual level, but because they express a deeper sense of truth....while her unshakeable belief of nargles and blibbering humdingers exposes her to the ridicule of her fellow students, it expresses a deeper truth: that this world is full of magic and surprises, if only we open our eyes and believe. She also acknowledges that sometimes knowledge is only achieved through pain. She can see and befriend thestrals because of the death of her mother."
Yes. I can see thestrals now. And yes, I think my pain and my grief has led to a lot of growth in the last year. I would hope I am reliable and kind. I would be honored to be like Luna in these ways.

I've created a Widow's music playlist. Many of the songs explore the myriad aspects of grief. I like playlists that follow a narrative arc: the beginnings songs focus on widows who want nothing more than to follow the beloved into death (the first song on the list is "I Am Stretched on Your Grave") and the last one that closes it out is a song that is suggestive of the sort of wisdom that Luna has mastered, understanding death as she does. (One my Harry Potter fanfiction stories puts it this way: "Because you know death...Because you've faced it and fought it and feared it and denied it and accepted it and you understand it, as much as anyone still living still can.")

Danny Gokey
"Tell Your Heart To Beat Again"

You're shattered
Like you've never been before
The life you knew
In a thousand pieces on the floor
And words fall short in times like these
When this world drives you to your knees
You think you're never gonna get back
To the you that used to be

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again

Just let that word wash over you
It's alright now
Love's healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up, take step one
Leave the darkness, feel the sun
Cause your story's far from over
And your journey's just begun

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again

Let every heartbreak
And every scar
Be a picture that reminds you
Who has carried you this far
'Cause love sees farther than you ever could
In this moment heaven's working
Everything for your good

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again
Your heart to beat again
Beat again

Oh, so tell your heart to beat again
pegkerr: (Rob's last) she stood before the canvas on which he was represented, and fixed his eyes upon herself,
she thought of his regard with a deeper sentiment of gratitude than it had ever raised before;
she remembered its warmth, and softened its impropriety of expression.

--Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

I realize that I never posted the last pictures we took for our family portrait. They were taken by a friend of the family and professional photographer, John Walsh, the night before Thanksgiving, November 2017. We had no way of knowing, but that was the very last night that Rob slept in his own bed. I took him to the Emergency Room the next day, Thanksgiving Day, for fever, and he was admitted that day. He never saw his home again. Many of you saw these pictures on our Christmas card.

The shoot was wonderful, and you can see what a happy, laughing time we had...but I knew in my heart what was coming. When Rob's individual portrait appeared on the photographer's monitor, I immediately burst into tears. I managed to choke out that it was because I so moved by it. Indeed, I loved it--but that wasn't it.

I was crying because I instantly knew it was going to be his obituary picture. And I was right.

Today, I thought of this treasured picture of Rob as I was listening to this song, from Austen's Pride, A New Musical of Pride and Prejudice. (Listen to this song here. The lyrics here are from the first minute and forty seconds. Listen to the whole thing: it's gorgeous.)

Who are you?
I thought I knew
The man in the portrait
You appear and seem to be
All the things that I refused to see
And you said you loved me.

Who are you?
Is it true
The man in the portrait
Is thoughtful and good?
If I knew then
What I know now
I might have understood
But that was then
Now I’m face to face
With you, the man in the portrait
In your gaze, I can see
The way you used to smile at me
And it says, you loved me.

I was open with the fact, I think, that Rob and I had our struggles, as happens of course in any marriage. It was very difficult particularly through the years of unemployment. But my respect for him grew so much as I watched him battle cancer, and somehow, this photograph captured something about him and made it visible for all: his nobility, and his suffering, and the love that shone out of him. The lines I've bolded above say it well. I told the photographer that I will treasure this photo for the rest of my life.

I cried a lot today.

photo credit John Walsh
pegkerr: (Light in dark places soulcollage)
I often post a song for the Winter Solstice on my blog. I went to YouTube looking for one and found an entire mix. If you'd like to hear some lovely Solstice songs, here is the link.

Enjoy the music, and happy Solstice! Lighter days are coming, and I, for one, am glad.
pegkerr: (Default)
Harry Potter versus Twilight. Thanks to Delia for the link!

Rather good looking dancing. And one hilariously gratuitous ab shot.

pegkerr: (Default)
It is really an advent carol, but almost entirely unknown, I think. About its origins says:
John Taylor, Postbridge aged 85, Tune not recorded in Killerton Ms but can be found in the Rough Ms. Baring-Gould gives a second version which he says is closer to the broadside ballad.
K3 p297
from Sabine Baring-Gould and the folk songs of South-West England

The gorgeous version I have is by Jennifer Cutting's Ocean Orchestra (here you can hear small sample).

I found another artist who put the whole song online, giving it a different title.

Here are the lyrics of the version I know )
pegkerr: (Deal with it and keep walking)
Fiona and I went to see Next to Normal tonight. This song was the one that made me bawl. In it, the husband, Dan, is trying to convince the wife to sign a form giving consent to undergo a scary medical procedure. She is at the hospital and he has been living at home.

I am in exactly this position. We signed the papers a couple of weeks ago. Now I sit at home alone, waiting and hoping while Rob is in the hospital.

I listened to the soundtrack after I dropped off Fiona and drove home. A single light was shining on the porch when I reached it, just as this song was playing.
pegkerr: (Default)
I discovered this song when my family sent me on a spa weekend getaway for my fiftieth birthday.

I have been playing it a lot lately, when the wish for a Time Turner starts itching at me again, as it has a lot lately.

But hey, I'm not wishing for a Resurrection Stone.

Tell me about ways you are living in the moment.
pegkerr: (Default)
We need to give winter a swift kick in the pants. Some serious conjuring might be needed.

This song should do nicely.


Feb. 14th, 2014 01:29 pm
pegkerr: (Default)
A long time ago, someone gave me Zoe Mulford's song Elegy (Crystal Glass), which you can hear in its entirety on her website here. The lyrics are also posted there.

Do listen to it, and leave me a comment if you do. I think it's a lovely message. I draw it to your attention in honor of the ten beautiful crystal iced tea glasses my mom has given me, as part of her move to a smaller home.



pegkerr: (Default)
On my way to Espresso Royale for the French conversation group today, I heard this song come up on [ profile] marcgunn's Irish and Celtic Music Podcast (Episode 150) and I was so taken with it that I took note of the singer (Jesse Ferguson) and when I got home, I bought it. Found a video of Jesse singing it:

Why do I like it so much? Not sure, but I've had it on repeat all afternoon.

pegkerr: (Default)
I'm a singer (amateur) but don't play any instruments (alas). I found this utterly fascinating: legendary Queen guitarist Brian May explains, step by step, how Bohemian Rhapsody was mixed/put together.

Here's the song Bohemian Rhapsody )

Here's the explanation:

(Did you know, by the way, that Brian May has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics? I didn't!)
pegkerr: (Default)
This is a really good version of 'Space Oddity.' And bonus: it was shot on the International Space Station by Commander Chris Hadfield.


May. 15th, 2013 09:00 pm
pegkerr: (Default)
I'd never heard of this singer Sara Bareilles before, but this video caught my eye on Facebook (thanks, Nina Kiriki Hoffman!), as well as her comment, 'Love the all-size dancers.' I listened to it and immediately went to download it. I think it'll be a new favorite.

This is a song for my House Gryffindor.

It's also a song for my daughters, and I'll be giving it to both of them. I'll also be adding it to my playlist 'The Well-Lived Life.'
pegkerr: (Default)
Marc Gunn (of the Irish and Celtic Music Podcast) is once again offering his free annual download of 17 Irish music mp3s. Check it out here.
pegkerr: (A light in dark places LOTR)
I've just picked up the new album by one of my favorite musicians, Sora. I loved her last album, Heartwood, and her new album, Scorpion Moon is also beautiful. She has a gorgeous voice, and she loves to sing about subjects that deeply interest me. She writes a lot of songs about fairy tales. The new album has songs about Scheherazade, a mermaid, heroes, Rapunzel, and ghosts.

I particularly recommend one perfectly exquisite song, called Hold. Here's her blog video from her website about it, in which she talks about writing it as a response to a question about loving a person suffering from depression:
Approximately 8% of adults will experience clinical depression in their lifetime, a debilitating and isolating reality. Those statistics tell me that everyone has known someone with clinical depression, someone reading this right now has been mired in the depths of that dark spiral. Once I was asked "do you understand?" when confronted with the terrible reality of another's misery. I wasn't sure how to answer, not wanting to discount or take away from the pain I was being presented with. This song was my answer.

Lyrics )
pegkerr: (Default)
This one came up on my Midwinter playlist today. It occurs to me that this song, which was distributed in an English broadsheet in the 19th century, would be a great anthem for the Occupy movement. The version I'm listening to is on this album, and it's just a stunning arrangement. You can hear a snippet/sample at that link to give you an idea, or a slightly longer sample on iTunes. Let me know if you listen and like.

Time to Remember the Poor

Cold winter is come, with its cold chilling breath
And the leaves are all gone from the trees.
All nature seems touched by the finger of death
And the streams are beginning to freeze.
When the young wanton lads o'er the river slide,
When flowers attend us no more,
In plenty you are sitting by a warm fireside:
That's the time to remember the poor.

When the cold feathery snow from the North does descend
It blankets the prospects around.
The keen cutting wind from the North will attend
And cover it over the ground.
When the bright twinkling stars they proclaim the cold night
And the rivers are froze on the shore,
When the hills and the dales are all mantled with white
That's the time to remember the poor.

When the poor harmless hare escapes from the wood
His footprints indented in the snow,
When the lips and the fingers are tinted with blood
And the sportsman a-hunting do go.
When the poor Robin Redbreast approaches your cot
When the icicles hang from the door,
When the smoke it does billow, reviving and hot:
That's the time to remember the poor.

Soon the time will here when our Saviour on Earth
The ends of the Earth will rejoice.
And angels and men Hallelujah shall sing
Then the rich shall lie down with the poor.
Then the rich must remember the poor.
pegkerr: (Default)
for Peter Mayer concert. So happy!
pegkerr: (Default)
I just bought Peter Mayer's newest album and am already obsessed with two or three songs on the album. But this one particularly stands out.

I have someone who I particularly love who struggles with depression. When she's having a tough time, she talks about feeling 'broken,' and hence, worthless.

The Japanese idea of kintsugi might be particularly helpful, the idea that the pot that is broken and mended is even more valuable, and the cracks are part of the beauty.

It's also an especially lovely song.

(Here's another link to a different performance of the song by Peter, and he talks about the concept a bit in the song introduction.)


pegkerr: (Default)

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