Not Goodbye

Jane, I don’t want to say Goodbye to you. I want you to be right here. Each moment, I expect you to just be there right next to me or to see you in a group of people. Or I look at a photo of you and feel my body pulled towards you. I don’t want you not to be here.

I know that at some time, I will let you go. Acceptance, I think they call it. But I don’t want that. I want to hold onto you. Really. And if I can’t do that, I want to hold onto every memory of you like a warm scrap. Try to put you back together again. I know, I know, the way to finish this process is to hold on and feel how I feel until it’s done. But even though it feels so horrible, I don’t want to finish. I don’t want to let you go.

I do not say Goodbye to going to a movie with you. To sitting until the end of the credits. I do not say Goodbye to each slow step up the aisle and down the steps. Holding your hand. To breathing slowly and glancing across to you, exchanging cues about what we thought of it. How we are affected by it. I do not say Goodbye to driving out of the car park with you, even though I bike, alone.

I do not say Goodbye to getting home together and then moving about the house, each doing our own different thing, knowing we will meet up again in bed soon.

I do not say Goodbye to touching the softness of your hair. To touching your cheek with my cheek and lingering there. To the gentle familiarity of you, and feeling my love for you. My Lovely, My Lovely Beautiful Jane, I do not say Goodbye to you.

Being Away, Coming Home, Without You

Sometimes I feel guilty about almost having forgotten about you for a little while. Must be the busy moments. These last few days, you have been inside me every moment, Jane. Sometimes it’s the grip of the gap that you leave. And sometimes, it’s not the gap but your place inside me, just as always, until I remember.

So I went to visit Tyl. Tyl who I visited, almost the last three times, with you. Tyl who you seemed to get on with so well. I visited the house where you so bravely came to spend Christmas Eve with me and all my family that time when our love was so new. The bedroom, the bathrrom we shared. The ridge that we walked on. The seats that we sat on eating cheese and rye bread. The beach that we swam at. The impression of you that you left on all these things. That you left on Tyl so that he talked and talked about you and described you how you were until I just couldn’t be any more except be filled with pain.

I sat in the church in Helensville while his choir sang the songs of my tears for you:

     Adieu, Sweet Amaryllis
     Adieu, Sweet Amaryllis
     Adieu, Sweet Amaryllis
     For since to part your will is,
     O, heavy tiding,
     Here is for me no biding,
     Yet once again,
     Ere that I part with you,
     Amaryllis, Amaryllis, sweet
     Adieu, Adieu,
     Adieu, Adieu,
     Adieu, sweet Amaryllis, Amaryllis, sweet,
     Adieu, Adieu.

          John Wilbye

and

     Weep, o mine eyes and cease not,
     alas, these your spring tides methinks increase not.
     O when begin you to swell so high
     that I may drown me in you?

          John Bennett

while I wished you sat beside me.

So I visited Janet. Whose new house you died before you saw. Well, I saw it for you, my Lovely. And I think you’d like it. (I think Jane would like your house, Janet). Martin and Karl and Lou came around and we had a nice dinner. But I wasn’t very good company. I felt too crushed. But you were there, too Jane. In Janet’s memory of you and mine and how the two of you got on so well. And in every book that I saw on Janet’s bookcases. And in remembering that photo of you and Janet laughing together at the Andersonarama. (I must put that up). The way you so bravely, and calmly joined me for Christmas Day with so many of my family whom you had never met.

And then I went to a conference for two days, remembering you at every moment and wanting to tell you about this and that.

Finally tonight, I returned, feeling tired and hungry and cold and lonely. Hearing the house ring with silence and darkeness from ten blocks away. Getting myself worldlessly out of the taxi and in through the door to have the emptiness fill up around me and inside me with your photo radiating to me from the funeral service sheet still sitting just inside the door. With no place to be.

And I read the beautiful card from Wendy Butcher, who worked with you who says “Dan – she just glowed when spoke of you. How cool is that. She was like a young teenager when you were due back from the US.” Oh Jane, I want you to have that glow now. That warm feeling inside you, any feeling inside you. Affecting Wendy, all the other people, anyone at all.

I like it when you Comment

Thank you to the people who have left comments on this blog. Please keep leaving them and, if you haven’t please start, if you’d like to.

I’ve thought a bit about why I am doing this. It is certainly helpful to my process to do this writing. But I could do it in my notebook. Some people who are also grieving for Jane have said that it’s helpful to them to read my account of this all. I am glad if it is doing that for you. One of my reasons for doing this is that it’s a good way of answering “how are you going?”. I’m also writing here because I like the attention. I like attention anyway but, particularly during this time, it is healing to me to know that people care about me and want to know what is going on for me. Thank you, Lovely People, my Family and Friends.

“The Little Things” ***** and “Me and You and Everyone We Know” *****

Alright, movies are back.

I went to two film festival films on my own. I chose them carefully, not to be “good” movies but to speak to me in the process I am going through. Then I realised that’s what a good movie is.

First I saw 2046 but I didn’t like it much. It’s pretty and sophisticated but I didn’t care for any of the characters.

Then I saw Me and You and Everyone We Know with The Little Things as a delightful surprise short, in front of it.

Reina Webster’s short film with a small cast was moving like a wheelbarrow of real life being dumped inside you. Slightly reminiscent of Taika Waititi’s style in One Night, Two Cars, it subtlely celebrates humanity in the face of pain. On, Jane, I wished so much you had been there to see that with me.

Miranda July’s film, for me, aced everything. A group of characters are introduced, each with beauty and sadness. Relationships develop, pain and love emerge, dances of forward and back are danced, a resolution is reached. Art happens. OK, take my state as a disclaimer. The love-torn guy gets the girl and the kids are all ok. Disbelieve me that I am allergic to schmaltz. It’s a feel good movie I feel good about.

The Village Voice review is good.

Come Back, My Lover

I almost wish I hadn’t said that. Having shrunk from the size of the house to being inside of me, yesterday the gap of Jane grew again to be just outside my body. The protection of my memory of Jane’s dead body lifted and I just crave her. Touching me now, sitting beside me. That familar entanglement of limbs. Gentle caress. Hair stroking.

Now my impulses towards flesh are all for Jane, even when it is too painful and I try to push her away. My bed no longer feels mine but ours again.

The feeling pulls at my flesh. There has been no respite. I know it will come but meanwhile it is yards.

A Jane Print Inside Me

I thought it would be terrible, the day I woke up in this house alone. Since the day that Jane died, the place has echoed with her memory. There was a yawning Jane-shaped gap. I imagined it ringing with deafening silence as I searched for her from room to room. Today was that day. The gap wasn’t in the house. It was inside me.

Most of the time, I have been able to move about the house ok. Sometimes, I can even glimpse at photos of Jane and keep moving. For some moments, life seemed as if it could go on something like as usual. I knew that Jane had made an impression deep inside me. I guess I managed to keep my distance from that, for a little while.

In the days when we lived in different cities, Jane used to talk about having a print of me on her body. It needed to be refreshed regularly. It was, as it turned out. As was the print of Jane on me.

Sleeping in our, well my bed has not been the horror that it might have been. It has been something of a sanctuary. Though it was a shared place, our most intimately shared place, it is also my place to rest and sleep. When I have not slept, I have found both solace and misery for myself in reading, writhing, and picking over infinite ideas and images of my life, past, present, future, real, dreamed and fantasy.

When I first put my hand across Jane’s dead body, I gave her a bit of a shove to try to get a reaction. Her body resisted my shove with inertia and gravity. Nothing else. It had no muscle tone. I have played a game, many times, in Playback workshops led by Simon. You work in pairs. One relaxes, acts floppy, while the other manipulates their body, extending it gently at first and then getting experimental, playfully animating it. Of course I have experienced Jane’s sleeping body. And others’. That morning, I instantly realised that Jane’s body was responding in a different way. It was floppy like I haven’t felt a body being before. Except, having been reminded of this by Rob Brodie, when I have carried the freshly dead bodies of dogs.

My sense of Jane as a sexual lover drained away at that moment. As a person in my life, I don’t think Jane has since felt as fresh as she did then. But my warm bedmate, who I could snuggle up with, and who could snuggle up with me; my lover, with whom I shared the trusting closeness, vulnerability and animal indulgences of lovemaking, was gone in an instant.

Almost immediately, I began to crave close physical contact with a woman. But not Jane. The night part of my craving was sexual, but the day part was was just physical. For either, though, my memory of Jane’s body, dead, was too fresh to connect with my longing. That part of our relationship was severed instantly.

Today, when I woke and noticed where I was, I felt the shock that my memories of Jane are not in the spaces around me but right inside me. That print of Jane does not need to be refreshed. It is vivid. It is in the impulse of my limbs away from my body in bed, it is behind my eyes as I look at the blank painted surfaces of our bedroom. It is in my gaping heart as I want to show Jane that I swept the garage and bought a new rubber doormat so we don’t bring crap in from it when it gets unswept again.

And I hold, somehow inside me, the knowing of Jane as my lover with the knowing of her lifeless body. I want to honour Jane as the one I am longing for and hold that with my horror of her dead. To somehow be with that so that something new can come.

The Night that Jane Died

The night before Jane died, I got home a little later than I had said I would. We bundled into the car and dropped Elsie at Mary-Anne and Lynne’s with various bags of hers and Ed’s. Then we went straight to the Rialto and saw Enduring Love. It’s not an uplifting movie. It has its share of death, and near death. Despite that, Jane and I had a warm time at the movie and coming home.

We warmed the place up and sat around with our computers, casually poking around the Web, reading bits out to each other. We’d become rather hungry by the time we decided to cook. We had a regular easy meal of ours. Those green pasta parcels of ricotta with a bottled tomato sauce and parmagiano. Then we just sat and talked, enjoying a nice bottle of wine (Jane’s sort, not mine). We sat and talked and sat and talked.

We listened to the Be Good Tanyas and speculated about how Country music came about. Jane told me the story of how English folk got from the “West Country” to the States and then went electric. I felt slightly ignorant for not knowing that Dylan first used electric instruments at Woodstock.

At one point, we got talking about some outdoor exploit of mine, probably from my hippy days up the Coast. Out of the blue, Jane commented “You like to compete with Struan, don’t you”. Struan, if you don’t know was my friend and Jane’s boyfriend when he introduced us in 1976. “What?!” I replied, with futility as Jane took that as an invitation to repeat herself, with an innocent smile. To my astonished protest, she responded by producing a 1976/7 diary of hers from which she quoted. Sure enough, it contained a detailed account of a tramping trip that the three of us went on, to Possum Hut, in which “S” and D” competed over fire-lighting, route-finding or something like that.

The diary now shut, I noticed a couple of dozen small stick-on tabs sticking out of its pages. What are those? “Occurrences”, replied Jane. My heart dropped slightly, for fear I was about to hear more about Jane’s youth than I wanted to. Of what? “You”, she replied.

Jane also told me why she called me Daniel. It had dated back to our early email exchanges. Jane confessed she had had to work rather hard to maintain it, in the face of everyone else constantly calling me Dan. But that was precisely the point. Jane was living in my city with my kids, my family, my friends and my history all around. Jane called me Daniel to distinguish her relationship and life with me from all of that.

About 12:00, Jane went to bed, saying she was tired. I mucked about for 20 minutes and then went to bed myself. Jane was sleeping. I read, keeping slightly away from her, to let her sleep, and to have a little space to myself. After a while, I turned the light off and went to sleep in the same position.

At some time in the night, I have woke to hear Jane breathing irregularly. She seemed to pause in her breathing for rather a long time and then gasp with a slight shriek as she took in breath. I took it to be bad snoring or perhaps a nightmare. I gave Jane a bit of a nudge, as you do to try to distrupt someone’s snoring. She didn’t respond but, after a short while became quiet. I slept.

At six in the morning, I woke and reached across Jane. She was lying on her back with the duvet not properly over her. I had hogged it and she hadn’t pulled it back. She was very cold. I became frightened and put my ear to her nose but heard no breath. I turned on the light. Jane had grey lips and blue patches all over her. I knew she was dead. I probably said “oh no” or worse, several times as I dialled 111.

With the 111 guy coaching me, I attempted to resuscitate Jane with CPR. She was so cold and blue that I knew I didn’t have much chance of success. I think it was a faint hope that the nightmare would go away that kept me going.

The ambulance folks arrived, dragged Jane onto the floor and got out their equipment. I went into Elsie’s room and wrapped myself in her duvet. I was pretty cold too by then. I lay on the floor and screamed and convulsed. Then, strangely, my mind wandered. Would I have more time than I had expected to to experiment with my new computer that day? And then incredulity that I had thought that. Had I willed Jane’s death for more time on the computer? Meanwhile in the next room they were working hard. Again, a spark of hope flickered. Have they managed to bring Jane to life? Before long though, an ambulance guy told me that no, there was no hope.

A crushing cold dark fell on me, passed into my core and pulsed out through my limbs. I lay alone. Not Jane. Not Jane. Not Jane. No, my Jane. No. No. No. Not my Lovely, Jane.

On their instructions, I got to the phone and called Kate and Walter’s. They weren’t home. I called Hanna who said she was coming around. Perhaps I managed to get some clothes on by the time she arrived. Cops were there with questions but well-meaning.

They had put Jane back in bed and I lay with her briefly for the last time, already appalled at her deadness.

I phoned Simon who said he was coming.

An undertaker arrived and they carried Jane’s body down the stairs strapped to a stretcher. I got to say a brief farewell to a lumpy thing invisible under a blanket in the back of a hearse. And then to come back inside our house, Jane’s and my house, with no Jane.