We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. – Aristotle

698 days ago
by Marnie Richard
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We’ve experienced our share of loss in the last few months. Shortly before Christmas, my maternal grandmother passed away. In July, my paternal grandfather was admitted to hospital and subsequently passed away. And now my husband’s family is facing loss.

When I am faced with loss of a loved one, I go through what I expect are typical phases of responses. Through the illness and demise of the loved one, I experience strength. Holding others as they cry, sitting patiently besides the loved one’s hospital bed. I almost feel… Not numb, per se, but just like my personal feelings are shelved in the interest of being there for others. The funeral is when my tears typically flow, if only for a short moment of emotional release. After that, back to business as usual. But my thoughts, and my feelings, they stay under the surface, arising sporadically.

Two months after my Grandpa’s death, I find myself replaying his illness and death. Wondering if I failed him. I had my suspicions about his medical state. Would he still be with us if I had fought harder? Been more assertive? But at the same time, what quality of life did he have before he went into hospital? What quality of life would he have had if/when he got out of hospital?

699 days ago
by Marnie Richard
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Finally grabbed a few minutes to give this ‘ol site a little facelift. No reconstructive surgery, just a fresh coat of paint.

1003 days ago
by Marnie Richard
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The absolute worst part about mental illness? The dangerous thoughts and vivid nightmares that play on everything from mild everyday fears to the most gut-wrenching torment imaginable.

I don’t know if these thoughts are coming from the mental illness or the meds or some combination thereof, but it’s getting bad. Really, really bad.

I find myself shaking most of the time. I wake several times in the night in a cold sweat, heart pounding and confused, overwhelmed, scared, hurting. The nightmares have been ongoing for years with varying intensity usually corresponding to what is happening in my waking life. Right now is one of those periods of high intensity, although I can’t seem to find what is triggering it.

And now those fears and tormented thoughts are invading my waking life. I’ll be in the middle of something and the next thing I know, I’ll be experiencing the emotions that go along with life’s worst events and I won’t know for sure if those events actually happened. Things like losing a child in unimaginable ways. Marital betrayal. Being burned alive in an inescapable house. Drowning.

I’m scared.

1003 days ago
by Marnie Richard
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In Danger of Drowning

Drowning seems to be a recurring theme in my life lately. I feel like I’m treading water. Most of the time I am successful at staying stable, keeping my head above water, solely on the determination that I don’t want to go back on the meds. I don’t want to be numb like that again. So I put a smile on my face for my family and I trudge along.

The danger to that is when I really need help, when I’m truly sinking, those around me see me wave, but they don’t see me wave for help.

I’m sinking. And I’m losing the fight to keep my head above water.

1029 days ago
by Marnie Richard
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Drowning Grief in Music

When I was a child spending time with my grandparents, I would spend hours playing the little keyboard that my Grandma had bought. I delighted in it because it had a built-in accompaniment feature that made simple melodies sound like full arrangements. The keyboard came with some sheet music that I would play through. One of those melodies was “Londonderry Air”. I was unaware that “Danny Boy”, an old English folk song, was set to that melody until my Grandma started singing along. She often encouraged me to play that melody, declaring it one of her favourites.

When arrangements for Grandma’s funeral were being made last week, it was a foregone conclusion that “Danny Boy” would be played. As our family was being led out of the chapel at the end of the service, those melodious strains played on the heartstrings of each of us, but mostly my Grandpa. It seemed to perfectly capture his and Grandma’s story of life and love.

I’ve been listening to that song in copious quantities lately, seeking out different arrangements and different artists (Thank you Grooveshark). At times it comforts me in its melody, a soothing background to my work and daily activities. Other times, it makes my heart hurt and brings carefully suppressed tears unbidden to the surface.

I leave you with Frederic Weatherly’s lyrics:

Danny Boy

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer’s gone, and all the flow’rs are dying
‘Tis you, ‘tis you must go and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow
‘Tis I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh, Danny boy, oh, Danny boy, I love you so.

And if you come, and all the flowers are dying
If I am dead, as dead I well may be
I pray you’ll find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an “Ave” there for me.

And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me
And all my grave will warm and sweeter be
And then you’ll kneel and whisper that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.