Please don’t take my sunshine away.
I am fairly crap at dates – birthdays, anniversaries, whatever the occasion, it’s most often Kevin that keeps track of these things.
Now, of course, I have an extra bit of help. Facebook enables me to look like a birthday-remembering star.
But for many years, after Kevin and I became a couple, I had to really work at remembering his birthday. It was embarrassing, but there was really only one birthdate I knew for sure and that was my best friend Kathleen’s. I barely knew my Mom or Dad’s dates but Kathleen’s was burned on my brain.
Hers landed on July 16th and Kevin’s on July 21st. I always used the excuse that I’d learned hers first. But sometimes, it really was kind of ridiculous.
Even now, I have to concentrate to separate them.
The other day someone asked me when my father died and I suggested it might have been May. I’m not really sure. For some reason, I do remember Mom’s. She died on the third of January.
But for all the other people in my life, I rely on Kevin for birth and death dates.
Today was an anniversary of a different sort. Today was my last voice lesson. When I signed up for the package of five one-hour sessions, I knew that I wanted to encourage my voice, and I thought it might help my writing to get more in touch with my actual voice. I knew too, that someday I might revisit the idea of more lessons.
But today I knew that I was finished for now.
Besides, I have some writing and art projects that I want to get into…and so…
I went into the session in a happy state of mind. We did some fun exercises. Viviane is a wonderful teacher and these sessions don’t feel like lessons but more akin to an organic unfolding of discoveries.
A few weeks back, we had explored my very low range. Being able to hit those low notes wasn’t that big of a surprise to me. Back in the day of landline telephones, I was often mistaken for Kevin when I answered the phone. But today I was surprised to find out that I can also hit some fairly high notes.
I told Viviane my singing goal…that in three years, for my sixtieth birthday, I would like to be able to sing a song and accompany myself either on the ukulele or the piano. What I really meant to say, was that I’d like to sing a song without making everyone wish they could be magically transported to another place to avoid that song.
“What,” she asked, “do you think you’d like to sing?” I had no idea.
“That’s fine,” she said, “how about we think of a simple song right now, and you can try it?”
You are My Sunshine was the first thing that popped into my head. I think I’d recently heard it on CBC and found it quite poignant. Later, I’ll remember that it is a song that reminds me of Kathleen. But I wasn’t thinking that then.
And so, I sang as Vivianne played the notes on the keyboard.
We started with the chorus. But when I had to sing, please don’t take my sunshine away, I was suddenly crying too hard to go on. This was not the crying of discreet tears slipping quietly down my cheeks. This was the killer kind, the face-twisting weepings of pure pain.
What the hell?
She stopped playing and let me cry and then asked if there was something this song connected for me?
I told her that over the last few days I’d been thinking so much about Kathleen.
Kathleen, I explained, was my oldest friend and she died and it was hard and in the last few days it’s hit me more and more. I told her how I found myself wanting to call her up and talk. How I wanted to snort and laugh about nothing. I wanted her to hug me in that big bear hug way she had. I just wanted to be able to sit and hang out with her.
“Is this an anniversary?” Viviane asked.
“I don’t know,” I said, “I think she died in April or May, so yes, maybe that’s it.”
“Alright,” she said, “I want you to try singing this again, and, if you can, just keep singing through the crying, just keep going.”
I tried my best, but the sadness was the kind of emotion that hits like a storm, sweeping up everything in its path. I was knocked sideways by the force. This was the kind of crying that used to wipe me out when she was dying.
But let me be clear, other than my recent yearnings to talk to her, there’d been no clue that I had been feeling this so strongly, and please, what I really want to know is this; where the hell does something this big reside when it’s not being expressed?
I came home and told Kevin what happened. Then, I asked him, my husband, my keeper of our history, did Kathleen die around this time?
Kevin is the executor of Kathleen’s will. He wanted to be completely sure before he answered. He looked on his phone for the copy of the death certificate, and there it was: April 4th, 2015. Two years ago. Today.
Earlier, I’d ‘liked’ the picture Kathleen’s daughter Hanna had posted on Facebook. It was a wonderful photo of Hanna as a little girl being held and kissed by Kathleen, but even so, I had not consciously made the link to this anniversary.
I have no idea how all this works.
How does my body remember what my mind does not?
Or does the unconscious simply decide how much to let me know?
I don’t have a clue. I’m stunned by it all.
But I do know this, I miss my friend so much.
Please don’t take my sunshine away.