Anniversary

If you knew her, you know that Jane kept diaries. Some were private, page-a-day journals. Accounts of her life, a bit like this blog perhaps. I sent years of them to Con, but not ’76 and ’77, yet. They are to go to Con, of course, as the Spears Family Archivist. I’m just not quite ready to part with them, especially the one that Jane was reading to me from, this time last year; the one with the pink post-it tabs for the ‘occurrences’. But the one open in front of me today is of the week-per-two-page-spread type that Jane also kept. I think this is a pretty well-known fact as she received three or four as gifts for both Christmases that we were together for. Each time, one was chosen to have the annual events transposed into it from its predecessor. Events that I use ‘recurring events’ in my electronic diary for, and that Jane may well have migrated to the same medium, enthusiastic user of her CPL iPAQ that she was. Birthdays of family and friends, wedding anniversaries (of both the still-together, and the not), anniversaries of overseas trips commenced and concluded (always noting the year and, if Jane herself was not among them, the participants), the anniversaries of the births and deaths of all her cats (their names mostly beginning with ‘Z’), anniversaries of deaths, acquisitions of properties; the anniversaries of our first meeting in 1976 (2 Nov), and in 2003, the first email I sent to Jane (30 April), our first dinner together in Christchurch (27 June), and our weekend at Rough Creek Lodge in Arthur’s Pass (22-25 Aug) and the day Jane shifted to Christchurch in 2004 (9 April). I’m still to blog all that. But the first half of Jane’s 2005 diary (an Escher one ~ who gave her that?) has liberal sprinklings of day to day and week to week happenings, cycles and trivia. There are departures and returns for holidays (eg Bannockburn Jan 8-12 and Sydney 2-6 April), day trips (eg Tumbledown Bay 14 Jan and Ashely Gorge the day after), movies watched (the source of the incriminating list), sports, social events, book club meetings, rehearsals and uni lectures attended, undergoings of surgery by our friends, collectings of my children, usually Elsie, from various locations, goings out for dinner, a play reading (Lysistrata, April 25, AZAC day) and the day that Jane “took seconds of sausage” (Thu 28 Apr).

I’ve kept this diary open on a shelf in (our/the/)my bedroom since then. Initially , I paid attention to the annually recurring events (mostly in black). This year, I watched the one-offs from ’05 (mostly in blue), and more recently, their abrupt disappearance at the end of July.

On this night, one year ago, Jane and I were enjoying our last evening together. Listening to the “Be Good Tanyas”, as I am now, alone. Though so many have been torn away, the fibres of our relationship, our love that had only just (@#$%ing) begun, remain stretched from my flesh to the woman who wrote those diary entries. It just is. I don’t think I could do anything about it, even if I wanted to. One year on, I sit bolt upright and think “NO! That’s wrong. That hasn’t happened. Not that.” There is no panic, only knowing that it is not possible that Jane is dead. And then the creeping incursion of “actually, …” begins to battle my denial.

As I read my account of the events of a year ago, I want to protest at the use of “Jane” to refer to Jane’s body. I suppose that is progress in the process of acceptance. I know it wasn’t “Jane’s body”, tho. She wasn’t dead. She still isn’t. Circular darned process on this planet.

Of course, there are many circumambulations still to be completed. I know that. This is how you do them, acknowledging anniversaries and stuff.

What Not to Say to Someone When they’re Dead

Janey,… Jane Spears, Jane Kirk Spears, who lived with me in this house, who spent that nice evening with me in this room, before I changed it all about, whose books are on the bookshelf, getting a little dusty (i’m sorry) and whose photos still leap with life, and whose words still ring clear in my ears, who (correction) lives with me in this house, … Jane? What am I going to do with you?

Fact is, that for practical purposes, you are useless to me as a partner. You don’t (nodding to Jack Lasenby) do a hands turn around the place, you don’t answer when I talk to you and you are no fun in bed.

Oh, yeah, no-one said that this whole business had any practical purpose but I’m back at “whatever the purpose of this is, it better be good”. And could somebody please enlighten me as to what that is?? Oh hang on, I had something… Jane came into my life to teach me that I could love and could be loved. That I could, after being scared nearly out of going ahead with it, let myself get close to someone, to be vulnerable with them, to let myself feel the love flowing all around and let myself be seen like that with the actual person. OK, I’m getting that, and then she left to… for me to learn…. ? Oh, hang on. There was something about feeling all this and not dieing myself. Kind of “what doesn’t kill you…” but really, there’s a pretty liberal dose of benefit of the doubt, there.

So I had a reasonable string of good months, Feb and March, evidenced by the lack of woe posts here (that pain muse). Ha! Such fun at the ANZPA conference, returning with such zest for life. Thought it was acceptance. Turned out it was denial. Merest provocation and I was right back in despair, peppered excessively with anger.

I know this isn’t a linear process. It’s navigating once more the thin film between holding on and letting go, with a new clarity on the impossibility of them both.

You might, you could easily say that all this “Jane, you…” is textbook “holding on”; acting exactly if Jane isn’t gone at all, because that’s what it feels like. That’s what I want! But, the inner-home-shrink in me knows that the misery concomitant with this drills the psyche closer to the seat of the pain, inexplicably but inexorably cleaning out the pus and grit from the seat of the wound and allowing it to knit gradually with tender tissue. Holding on, I am unwittingly letting go.

And I attempted letting go. Carried on a little as if nothing had happened. Ah right. I found where that gets me, even when, damn, it was acceptance, I had done dastardly yards of dankness. I was enjoying deserved enjoyment. And yet, slam in my face. Smack at the beginning of the grieving process. First day all over again, and again.

It’s eleven months and one day since that day, Jane Spears. Since I half woke while you gasped your last. And then whole woke with your body dead but you still alive inside me, as you are now. Sure, you are a little faded, and you haven’t aged. How could you, would you have. Oh, ok. How our lives together would be today. How you could walk in the door right now.

I really don’t know whether or how to say this, Jane but at some point, I’m going to be, you know, moving on a little in my life. I’ve already pretty much written off my own lame-arsed-ness or worse, deprivation assumption as the cause of this (Lloyd, tho I loved your email and yes I will definitely do that luck-cursing, raging at the world drinking session with you!), so it’s kind of, Jane, somehow would you, could I let you, want you to, just a little bit move on out of my life, perhaps die properly, like you were actually dead and not just pretending?