Posts Tagged ‘Ingrid’

last night i saw paul mccartney in concert…for the first time ever.   best concert i’ve EVER seen by far.

as i have said before, seeing paul mccarntey in concert has been a life long dream for me…a dream that i really didn’t think would ever happen.  like many things in my life that  i wanted so badly, it always seemed out of my reach.  that kind of happiness seemed meant for others for most of my life.   but i don’t believe that anymore and haven’t for a while…and that has made all the difference.

i have been thinking for a while how i could possibly put into words what his music and seeing him in concert means to me.  how do i put into words how he makes us feel?  what he has meant to so many of us our whole lives?  how, as many have said before, his music and the beatles music has been the soundtrack of our lives?

well, last night when he was singing, it came to me.  over and over again i just kept hearing the same phrase in my head…”he is the best of us”.  i don’t mean i think he is better then us…i surely don’t.  but he is the best of us.  he shows us what we are capable of.  for whatever reason, he was a conduit for the magic and truth that were the beatles.  i don’t mean to take away from his indescribable personal talents.  those are his…but the magic…that is ours…that is for all of us.  they just were willing to be a conduit for it and share it with us.

i have heard him talk about that magic.  i have heard him talk about what the music means to “us”…and i have never heard him down play it.  i think this has led some people to think he is full of himself over the years.  he certainly doesn’t seem full of himself to me.  he seems to know and honor what happened…what came through him, who he is to us…and for that, i’m very grateful.  how dismissive it would feel to hear him not honor the music of our lives or say “oh, it’s not that big of a deal” because whether you’re a beatle fan or not, it is certainly a big deal.

as i watched him last night, i felt like he was my elder…and well, he is technically…but i’m talking about more like family.  he has been there with us through so much.  sometimes leading the way with his words…giving us the words we couldn’t give ourselves…to name what is in all of us…what we strive for…hope, love, peace.

the whole concert last night felt like my life flashing before my eyes…and seeing it all in perspective.  and paul, well he was the guide…and i was thankful to have had him along the way.  not telling me which way to go necessarily, but putting words to it all.  he seems happy, light, peaceful.  he seemed joyful being able to still be a conduit for it all for us.  i felt like we had all gone through a long, sometimes painful ride together and had come out ok.  i felt like he was there saying “well that was really tough at times huh?  but we all made it here…now let’s celebrate what is still important together.”

he played so many unbelievable songs (almost 3 hours worth) and so many of them were so very important to me (pretty much all of them)…symbolizing different parts of my life, different experiences i’ve had.

when he played “the long and winding road” i sobbed, thinking about loss…remembering hearing that song on the radio years ago.  i had woken up at 2:00 am for some reason, turned on the radio and it was playing.  i listened to it and when it was over they said, as they had been all night, that john lennon died.  it was the first time i heard the news.  it was only a few months after my best friend ingrid died.  i remembered, at that age, feeling like the world was such a horrible place…so hopeless.  when he played “all my loving” i remembered being a young child listening to my beatles albums over and over again crying, yearning for something i needed but didn’t have in my life.  when he sang “maybe i’m amazed” someone near us proposed to their girlfriend and she accepted…the crowd around us cheered for them…it reminded me of when my husband proposed to me and new love…how wonderful it is…and how wonderful old love is too.   when he played “eleanor rigby” i remembered listening to that song in college and sharing my love of the beatles and music with other people who felt the same…how music can connect us so strongly.   when he sang “give peace a chance” i remembered what it feels like to believe in something even though some others might say it will never happen…and how i still believe.    when he sang “let it be” i remembered all the times in my life i’ve needed that message and how grateful i was to have gotten it.   when he sang “yesterday” i remembered singing it with my friend ingrid, days before she died, on her front lawn…two silly 12 year old girls singing at the top of our lungs laying in the grass and how after she died the words to that song would forever have a whole new meaning to me.    when he sang “hey jude” i thought about the impact that one person’s words can make when you really need them…i remembered the times in my life that a few words from someone who cared had made all the difference.   when he sang “live and let die” i remembered thinking…and probably yelling…”fuck yeah!”..how fun life can be…all the times i danced no matter who else was, laughed my very loud laugh no matter how many people always turn to look and experienced all the joy and fun there was to be had…no matter what.  when he sang “golden slumbers” i remembered being more alone then i can imagine a person feeling when i was a teen..walking in the street alone in the middle of the night having no where to go and no one to go to…completely alone in the world, not knowing how to care for myself, but having no other options.  i remembered singing that song to myself at that time in my life…i remembered the pain.   and when he sang “the end” i saw it all…all of it…the whole of my life up until this point.  i remembered thinking when i was younger that it had to be true, those words…that the love you take is equal to the love you make.  that things had to get better…that if i just kept trying and kept going…everything would be ok.  and as he sang that last night…i felt overwhelming joy and peace knowing that it really really is true.  and so grateful to him for reminding us…for being here all these years to tell us that…for his words which will live on forever…never letting any of us forget.

he is the best of us…

if you ever get the chance to see him…do it.

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not long ago i went to some garage sales with my mother.  i picked up a book i was interested in and went to ask the woman running the garage sale a question about it.  after i looked at her for a moment i remembered…i remembered that i knew her.  that odd feeling of recognition mixed with confusion swept over me…followed soon after by panic.

the panic came from the realization that i had gone to high school with her.  high school was a living hell for me.  a war i went through…walking away with many deep wounds and scars that have haunted me my whole life.

i have run into people from high school before…and usually i run…quite literally run.  if i can’t run, i hide and run as soon as i can.  i have post traumatic stress disorder.  i acquired this condition from the traumas i lived through in high school.  and while i am quite sure i’m not delusional, it can feel like life or death to me…like i’m in vietnam and i’m not sure which one is charlie.  it could be any of them.  so i’m sorry if you’re not, but i’m not interested in finding out who you are, what i meant to you, what we did together in high school…you all are the enemy…you all are going to stay far away from me or you’re all going down.  that’s what ptsd feels like to me.

i spent my high school days hiding from those who had traumatized me. but they found me…every day they found me for a year and half and re traumatized me…and it was hell.  i wish i would have had the self worth to fight back…but i did not.  i didn’t have the self worth or support of others protecting me.  so i went inward and hid.  it was very damaging to me.  i still struggle with the the beliefs about myself i created because of that abuse.

so when i realized the woman at the garage sale was from high school, i started to fill with shame…and for a split second i thought of running…but then something happened that has never happened before.  i felt a little space open up in me…another option…a choice i had never seen before.  instead of running, i looked at her and began talking to her.   and as i talked to her,  something very surprising started to happen… i started to feel connected to her.

we talked about what a hard time junior high and high school was.  she shared with me that she doesn’t like talking about or thinking about that time period either.  we talked about ingrid, my best friend who died in junior high.  she remembered ingrid.   she remembered how close ingrid and i were…and how horrible it was when she died.  she told me that she had just been talking about ingrid with some other friends, remembering that time and how tragic it all was.  this was very healing for me to hear.  as odd as it might sound, it never occurred to me that anyone else from high school was affected by ingrid’s death…or affected by anything at all really.  i never really thought about it in these terms, but i guess i felt i was alone in all that…the only one was was wounded by that time period, as illogical as that idea might be.

we talked about that time bit…how devastating it all was.  and then i did something previously unimaginable to me…i asked her for her email address…i asked her if she wanted to get together and talk.  before that moment, i never would have thought a time would come that i would want to talk to someone from high school.  a while back my therapist suggested that i might want to talk to someone from high school at some point.   my reply to her was “why the fuck would i ever want to do that?!?”  she said because i will get to a point that i won’t be triggered anymore.  really?  i had never even considered that idea before she said this…that this might ever happen in my life…but it has.

soon after the garage sale  i started emailing back and forth with my new/old friend from high school…getting to know each other a bit.  i don’t find it ironic that she and i seem to be the same kind of people…have similar beliefs and outlooks on life.  have gone to the same church, same groups, experienced similar things in life.  i don’t find this ironic, but i do find it comforting.  connecting with her feels very comforting and familiar…like an old friend.   so much so, that i have kind of forgotten i went to high school with her.  we have plans to go to a concert together…for both of our families to hang out.  how wonderful it is to have friends.  we made plans for me to come over her house last night and hang out…talk.  i was looking forward to this.

while i was driving to her house last night i was not feeling particularly excited or anxious.  i just had that good content feeling of looking forward to an evening with an old friend…and then it hit me.  i was about to spend time with someone i went to high school with.  and for a fleeting second i panicked and thought i should turn my car around and go back home.   luckily i have healed enough to be able to observe that feeling…to look at it rationally, know where it comes from and usually make a decision about what i want to do based in reality…the here and now…not the past.

so on i drove to her house.  and when i got there she said she had been wondering if i was feeling nervous about coming over.  we talked about that…and about high school.  we spent the night talking mostly about the past.  we talked about the things we experienced,  and although we experienced different things during high school…we do have similar feelings about that time period, which was very eye opening to hear.  i am not the only one who went through that time period.  and while i did have a uniquely horrifying experience, we all were just trying to get through it with as few scars and wounds as possible.  some of us did better then others, but we all were scarred to some extent i think.

then we did the unthinkable…we broke out the year book.  i joked with her that this was kind of like immersion therapy for us.  in immersion therapy when someone has a fear…say of spiders…the therapist will try to desensitize the patient to spiders.  first maybe talking about spiders, then maybe showing the person a picture of one…until finally…a real live spider.  the point is to realize that you are safe…to become desensitized to the spider and not be so triggered by it.  so we immersed ourselves in our yearbooks with an odd mix of humor and horror.

and the thing that stuck out to me the most looking at the yearbooks was this…i was looking at children…pages and pages of pictures of wounded children.  insecure children who wanted to feel safe…who wanted to feel important…who wanted to feel loved.  and the ones who didn’t feel those things in their lives…well they hurt others or themselves in their confusion.  for most of my life i have blamed myself for what happened to me during that time period…but i was a child.  i am just starting to wrap my mind around the idea that it wasn’t my fault…that i wasn’t responsible…that people should have been protecting me in all areas of my life, and they weren’t.  the fact that i made it through that time period at all amazes me.  the fact that i came out of it a person who at age 16 put myself in therapy and alone came up with the goal that i would go on to college, and did just that, makes me proud of myself.  the fact that i didn’t die of alcohol poisoning or in a car accident leaves me grateful.  i’m grateful to be here.

i’m grateful to finally feel i am not running from my past anymore. i’m grateful to have a new friend.  my friend is still friends with a few people from high school.  she told them about her and i meeting…talking…connecting.  one of her friends said hearing about us connecting was healing for her…that she had a lot of pain and wounds related to that time period and hearing about us connecting was the first time she felt good when thinking about anything related to high school.  that was very healing to hear and it kind of blew my mind.  i have been running from this for so long, and when i stopped running, i inadvertently helped others from that time period.   in making peace with my past, it seems i have helped others make peace with their past…and that’s a beautiful thing.

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my daughter maggie loves birds, among many things.  we have a few bird feeders near our window in the living room and even though she sees birds all day, everyday, she still gets so excited when she sees one.  she looks at me and does that surprised gasp…like a child seeing the gifts under the christmas tree for the first time…wide eyes, face filled with joy, hands over her mouth.  then she’ll whisper “mommy look!” and point at the window.  i find it so endearing and sweet.  she’s my muffin.

another thing she loves is taking our dog gracie for a walk…so last night we did just that.  maggies always wants to hold the leash and walk her, and she’s getting very good at it.  at one point, while walking gracie, maggie saw a bird.  she got very excited and gasped, yelling, “mommy!  a robin!” and she took off running with gracie.  after about two steps, she tripped over her little four year old feet and feel down, skinning her shin pretty badly.  as i ran to her i could see the pain in her face…the look of terror…as she started to sob.  i’ve seen this look on my kids faces before.  it looks like they are shocked…shocked something could hurt so much…like they are realizing something about life they didn’t know before.  she was crying so hard that she wasn’t making much noise.  i scooped her up and held her, making my “shhhh, shhhhh, shhhh” sound and holding her close.  there was nothing else i could do.  all i could do was be there with her and love her.  i couldn’t make the pain go away for her.

this has been my least favorite part of being a parent…realizing my kids will feel pain that i can do nothing about…pain that i can’t prevent.  at times that idea fills me with desperation…desperate to protect them, to keep them safe, to keep them from ever being hurt.  my son quincy is 10 now and i have watched as he has learned the things about life i would rather he doesn’t…pain, death, war, cruelty.   i have not enjoyed this one bit.

i remember the first time it dawned on me that he would soon learn things i didn’t want him to know.  we had just exited the highway and were at the end of the exit ramp…the place some people mindlessly throw garbage…garbage we all get to look at.  he was so little…and as we stopped he said “look mommy.  a man must have lost his cup.”  he was noticing the cups on the side of the road.  he had no idea what liter was.  it never dawned on him that someone might throw their garbage there…so it must have been a mistake.  my heart ached in that moment for all the things he would learn…things i didn’t want him to know.  things i didn’t want to exist.  i wanted the world to always look to him as it did that day.  the man must have lost his cup.  my eyes filled with tears as i said to him “maybe he did sweetheart.”

i have learned a lot since that day.  i have accepted a lot.  i can’t keep things from them forever.  i can’t take their pain away.  they have their own lives to life…things to learn.  i can be a protective parent, let them have their childhood.  i keep the news off in our house.  we speak kindly to each other.  but over the years i have slowly shifted the way i think about all this, the way i handle it with my kids.  i think this shift has come from me being able to deal with the pain in my life better.  i have learned for myself to try not to put big judgements on these things…the pain of life.  it is just part of life.  and i have found in doing so, the pain is much more tolerable and temporary.

in his book “breathe, you are alive”, thich nhat hanh writes:

There is a crack in everything.  Life is broken, and it is its brokenness that makes it livable.  But we are somehow of the mind-set that cracks have to be patched.  patching the cracks is trying to control life, rather than engage it.  To engage life we have to find the cracks and enter them, rather than deny or patch them. 

 it’s the holding on to the pain that really hurts…that really creates suffering in our lives.  if we feel the pain without judging it, it will pass.  if we accept it as just another part of life, it seems less menacing.   life isn’t supposed to be painless.  holding this belief, trying desperately to avoid the pain, robs us of our life.

i want more than anything for my children to live their lives…i want them to live their lives out loud.   is that easy for me?  no.  i cringed when i bought maggie a bike, thinking of ingrid’s death, but i bought it anyways…i actually suggested it.  it’s still so hard for me to think of them riding bikes, being out in the world with so many uncontrollable variables…but that’s where life is.  so i can worry and feel anxious about it, and i do, but i don’t show them that.  i do my best to just love them and be here for them.  i have realized that is all i can ever do.  in doing that, hopefully they will feel they have a safe “nest” to launch from.  i want them to spend their time thinking about all the things they want to do in life, not how i will feel about it.  i want them to fly.

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i have had some significant losses in my life, as many of us do.  one of the most significant losses i experienced was when my best friend ingrid died.  we were both 12 years old.  she was hit by a car riding her bike to my house.  there is nothing that feels like that…when someone you love is here…with you, then gone…just gone.  completely disappears.  just writing about it here makes me feel like i was just punched in the gut…you can’t get enough air.  the shock, the panic, the searching.  some part of my brain kept looking for her…unable to get my mind around the fact that she was just gone.  period.  gone.

i read a short story a while ago written by an older man.  this man had been married to his wife for many years.  he loved her deeply.  they were, in so many ways, one.  then she died.  he writes of the grief…the indescribable pain.  he writes how one day, after her death, he found himself crawling around the living room floor, searching for strands of her hair that she might have left behind in the carpet…as if he found one of her hairs, he could have her back.  i’ll never forget that image.  this elderly man, desperately searching…crawling on the floor, trying to hold on to something that was gone…her physical presence.

i tell my kids that when someone dies, they are with us forever.  that what we shared with them, the love we shared, is real and always with us.  we are always connected to that and to them.  that they are in our hearts forever.  i think i started to tell my kids this because i wanted them to feel safe.  i can’t explain to them the bigger picture things i believe, so i simplified it to give them a sense of security.  but i think i have come to realize lately that this is really actually true.

i realized these last couple of years that i never really grieved over ingrid.  i feel i have done that..and in doing so have made room for the good memories.  i have been talking to people i went to high school about her…asking what they remember.  i have been emailing her mother and her brother.  it has been very healing for me, and i hope for them too.  there was always a space in my heart for her…it was just full of pain and hurt, so i didn’t look at it.  this past year i have looked at it and felt the pain,  and in doing so was able to let it go…and now that space is full of her…us…our connection.  memories of the times we shared…memories of what an amazing person she was, how she helped me so much.  she is with me always and i feel it now.  and that feels very good.

when we love someone, when we share something with someone that is real and meaningful, that creates something of it’s own…the energy of what you shared.  that energy will always be with us.  this is true in all cases of loss, whether the person died or they are alive but no longer part of your life.  feel the pain and it will create space to honor the “good” memories…the real and true things you shared.

i am not trying to negate the physical loss.  the person not being in your life anymore is real.  that is a real loss…the things you’ll never do with them again…the things you’ll never share with them again…the things you’ll never be able to tell them.  that is so very real, and so painful…but what is also real is what you shared…and that will be with you forever.

warren zevon wrote this song when he found out he was dying of lung cancer.  it’s the last song he ever recorded.  he was very ill at the time.  sing it for us warren you beautiful soul…

edit:here is a different video of warren zevon singing the same song.  this is from the documentary that was made while he recorded his last album, the wind.  he started writing and recording it after he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.  in the video you can see a number of the musicians who came to play on his album and say goodbye to him (jackson browne and bruce springsteen are two of them).  his daughter ariel and his son jordan are also in it.  he completed the album before he died.  after he died, his last album got him five grammy nominations.  he won two…the only grammies he ever won.   i have the dvd if anyone wants to watch it.  i think it’s brilliant. 

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often when i point out that something is ironic, i follow it with “and i’m not sure i believe in irony.”  are these things that stand out to me…things i notice that can be categorized as ironic…are those things perhaps meant to happen?  are they meant to be?   i don’t believe in complete predestination…but there have been several things in my life that i feel strongly were “meant to happen”…a person i met, a relationship or event that effected me in such a profound way…i believe these thing were meant to happen so i could learn from the experience or person.  that in fact it needed to happen so i could learn just what i needed to at that moment.

i have noticed that the more healthy i have become…the more in tune with myself and the flow of my life, the more i can pick up on things that end up being important.  i have noticed that when i am open to life and something comes along that is important for me to pay attention to, i often say “huh” and tilt my head.  i have learned to pay attention to my head tilt… to follow through on the event i learned about, or get to know a person better…follow the road i feel my soul is leading me on.   i am finding out that the more i trust that everything will be ok, no matter what happens, the wider and more welcoming my path is becoming.

today my path led me to a friend who needed a shoulder to cry on, literally.  i went to church today.  i LOVE going to church.  i love my church and the people in it.  they are my family.  i never feel i should go, i want to go.  and almost always i sit in the front row…i want to take it all in, the music, the message, everything.  and i did just that today.  i was sitting where i always do, smack dab in the front row, and i was feeling antsy, like i didn’t want to be sitting there.  i don’t recall ever feeling that way in church.  i didn’t want to leave church, i just wanted to move.  so i got up and went into the foyer where there is a couch.  we have a speaker set up out there so people with young children can still hear what’s going on when they are in the foyer playing with their kids.  i sat on the couch and listened, feeling very comfortable…very much like i was in the “right” place.  i have learned to just trust myself, not judge myself when it comes to those things.  i wasn’t very concerned why i wanted to sit there, just that i followed my gut and felt comfortable.  that’s what mattered to me.

a few minutes after i sat down, one of my friends came out of the sanctuary and into the foyer.  i said hello to her and wished her a happy mother’s day.  she walked right over to me, sat down, buried her face in my shoulder and started to sob.  i held her while she cried, i stroked her hair and rubbed her back.  after a few minutes the crying started to subside and we began to talk.  she told me how she was feeling, what was going on.  we had a great talk about life, parenting, responsibility, our perceptions.  we ended up sitting in the foyer talking for the rest of the service.  it was a wonderful experience.  it turns out i needed to talk about those things too…and what is more wonderful then being able to be there for someone you care about?  not much.

after i left church today, i began to think about that experience.  was it ironic that i happened to feel antsy and walk out, putting myself in just the right place at the right time for someone i care about?  i don’t think i believe in irony.  it felt very “meant to be”…and that felt good.  i thought about all the times recently things like that have happened…it seems like it has happened a lot recently.  then i began to wonder…if it’s not ironic when it happens in a “good way”, is it not ironic when it happens in a “bad way”?  and i didn’t like this thought at all.

but being one to never walk away from examining my beliefs, i called my friend, my partner on the highway, and talked about this with her.  i told her what happened and what i was thinking about.  i told her it made me think about my friend ingrid who died when i was 12.  many people over the years have told me “it was her time.  there was nothing you could have done about it.”  but i’m not sure i believe that.  do we have a time?  ingird called me that day to ask me to come to her house and i said i didn’t want to.  i suggested she ride her bike to my house, which she did.  but she got hit by a mail truck a block from my house and died.  i have struggled with this all my life.  was it my fault?  i have started to let myself  believe lately that it wasn’t my fault.  i always knew that believing it was my fault made no sense…i can’t see the future…i didn’t know that would happen.  but regardless of what made sense, i felt responsible.  what would have happened if i would have riden to her house that day?  would she be alive?  would i be dead?  i don’t know.

so i am coming to terms with the fact that it wasn’t my fault, but did i play a part in it?  was it fate?  irony?  or just a random event that happens in life?

my friend and i had a great discussion today, one of many we have had in the last 27 years that i have been lucky enough to know her.  we discussed the idea of placing a judgement on things like death…that perhaps we don’t have to see things as good or bad.  we talked about how it seems some things are predestined…or maybe we are meant to learn certain lessons, but only if we are open to them.  that the more open we are, the more we attract people and situations into our lives that help us learn.  i think this is true.  it has felt like at times in my life, i was going to learn a certain lesson no matter what i did.  the lesson, or opportunities to learn it, kept coming up in all sorts of ways in my life.  it reminds me of the flower growing through the crack in the cement.  if the seed is there, it will find a way to the surface.

we also talked about the idea of power.  how much power we think we have over life and other people, when in fact, we have very little…some would argue none.  but, we have tons of power over ourselves, how we see the world.  i read an analogy in a book not too long ago about this.  the writer pointed out that some balls are going to come at you in life, no matter what you do…that we have no control over.  but what we do have control over is how we react to them.  do we catch them?  do we move out of the way?  we do have control over how we react.  yet it seems to me that we forget that so often, myself included.

so what conclusion did i come to after all this thinking and talking?  i still think some things are meant to be, meant to teach me something.  i still feel good when i listen to my gut and something “good” happens.  the rest of the details, i’m not completely sure about…i might never be…and i’m fine with that.

what do you think?

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