Hi There, I’m Still Alive

Today is the anniversary of the day that Jane and I first met in Dunedin in 1976. I know that because it’s in Jane’s diary. I know it wasn’t transcribed from diary to diary all those years, like “28 Nov: Janet Hardy’s birthday (1958)” but, like “Nov 29: Jane + Daniel’s party (2003)” (the ‘Mystery Man’ party), added to the roster recently.

It’s been over a month since I last posted. I’m still here. It’s been a full time.

Just after Labour Weekend, I went to Wellington. I did a couple of days work staying with Rogan, spending time with her and Kat. Sharing our experience of the loss of Jane.

I had a coupla beers with Struan. We bush-bashed a bit, trying to find the track but emerged at the bottom of the gully in the end.

Rogan and I were buddies, doing cafes, buying Con’s 70th birthday present, sharing quiet reflections. That was nice.

We visited Fort Jeypore, Jane’s old house. Anthea joined us. Kat and Bruce, bless them, were cleaning it pre-open day. We walked through the empty rooms, paint scuffs yelling emptiness from the walls and echoing memories. The Bubble, that beautiful magical Bubble that Jane and I inhabited in that house in the early days of our reconnecting.

We had the gathering of Jane’s Wellington family and friends. I cried at the love we shared. Mark Edwards and I had a good chat about fisheries policy and missing Jane. I had my first good talk with Renee.

The next day Anthea and I trod the ocean coast, walking in each others’ footsteps.

And the day after that, back in Christchurch, Rogan and Kat and then Con and George, Christopher, Alan and Madge and Heather and Colin arrived for Con’s 70th birthday dinner. The day after, we convened for the Tranzalpine to Greymouth and back – an excellent way to do a birthday. We all had plenty of time to hang out with each other. Wendy had dropped of a book of remembrances compiled and bound by the Libraries folks. We passed it around and wept reading it while the wide valleys rolled by.

We concluded with a Jane and Daniel style BBQ at Durham Castle. Lots of scallops. Ed totally rocked at the plate.

On the Weds, Kat and Rogan and I had lunch with Jane’s library friends at South. Even Debbie came. Good people. The twins and I went through quite a bit of Jane’s stuff. Books, CDs, effects, each declaring memories.

By the following weekend, I was still soaked with grief and pain. Emma was empathetic which I much appreciated. I went to ‘sculpture in the garden’ but wasn’t much cop. I felt gutted and then I heard that Rod Donald had died.

I grieved for Rod. I grieved for Zoe, our A&P show buddy and Nicola, Emma and Holly. And I grieved for Jane and for me. I went to Rod’s funeral. Shine on, you Crazy Diamond.

We went to the A&P show, without Zoe, without Jane.

Looking back, I think that was a turning point in my grieving process.

Jacqui shouted me the weekend in Nelson. I flew to Nelson. About 5 minutes from the airport, we stopped at the Boat House. An acapella choir performed, getting into it. Then the Marimba band struck up. The dance floor became packed immediately. Those who couldn’t fit cleared and stacked tables until everyone was dancing and we danced all night. Such fun. Really felt like Nelson. Hippies, really and their kids, and their parents. We got invited to a party in the Bay the following evening and decided to go for the night.

The Bay was beautiful. I could scarcely believe that I was there ~ it seems so far from here. The party was… ok. The next morning, my tears flowed. Jacqui was gentle.

Then further into my fun patch. SJD and Phoenix Foundation with Juliet, which was delightful. Dinner with Faith, Gillian and Ron – and Sacha who was in Jane’s MEd class. Elsie came and we played “ex libris”. Lyttelton Farmers’ Market where I procured a luxurious lunch to share with Karl and Louise followed by beers at the Dux in the afternoon sun. Ainsley and Klaus’ party. A vigorous steam around Castle Rock the next morning with Marek, Stephanie and Klemens and even Elsie and Anja (and Elisa, reluctantly) in gorgeous weather. Then a bike sprint and more beers at the Dux in the afternoon sun with Marek and a short rest before Jonty Eichler’s birthday party.

Oh boy, I just rolled around in enjoyment and the more I noticed my indulgence, the more I said yes yes. I can have fun.

During the weeks, I even managed to be fully at work and do some good stuff.

In between times, I picked away at packing up Jane’s things to go to Kat, Rogan, Christopher, Con and George, or out or to stay here. Still picking up a memory each time but now mostly gently putting it down again.

I felt so good that I thought something was wrong. Was I callous? In denial? Never really that involved? Or getting a good patch after all that grovelling in the pit?

Last weekend, I packed up the rest of Jane’s stuff. It’s done now. I am continuing, gradually to rearrange things here. It’s sparser. More my house than it was. The photoboard of Jane has moved from the main room to the landing on the stairs where I still notice it, notice Jane in detail whenever I pass, which is often. The photos wil go in an album soon, which I will open from time to time.

More new things will happen.. and I will be connected with my time with Jane, recent and old and with the emerging present and possibilities for the future.

When I was in Dunedin in 76/77, I got hold of a copy of the student mag. It was pretty irreverent, (was it called “critic”?) even then. One item had a picture of Norman Kirk waving from the open doorway of a railway carriage with the caption “hi there, I’m still dead”.