Friday, April 17, 2009

The Mix…

Life is a lot like a mix tape. It has angry songs, poignant songs, invigorating songs, sexy songs, beautiful songs and songs that take your breath away. Songs that make you cry and songs that lift you up and bring a smile to your face. And just like in life, the songs change. Music you once listened to does not quite resonate like it once did and new music lights up your soul. And a new mix is created…

We are like that. We change. Hopefully moving forward and embracing the new directions and paths life presents us, but not always. Things that once used to be so important no longer seem pertinent in our lives. Songs I once loved now do not seem to strike the same chord they once did. My tastes change. I change. Life changes. I have new interests. New insights. Some things remain the same. Some things are just who I am. My core remains unchanged like this stone sitting at the bottom of a river. The eddies swirling around me, bringing new life, new hope and new direction.

Even now, I have noticed a shift in my musical tastes in the last year. Yet another signal of all the changes I have undergone. I am not the same woman I was and never will be again. Sometimes I think about her, the woman I was, and it makes me sad. I miss her complete innocence. Her utter naivety of the pain and heartbreak one person could endure. Her total incomprehension of what it truly meant to die and how messy, painful and heartrending it could be. I miss her simplicity.

And yet, I like the new Skye. She is more confident. She has an inner strength that goes to her foundation that can never be torn down again. She is a warrior and a survivor and not one to be trifled with anymore. She has a low tolerance for bullshit and platitudes. She has few filters left and finds people should not ask her opinion if they really do not want the answer. She is not one to be fucked with anymore. Life is too short and there is enough crap out there to deal with in our everyday lives that anything not positive and/or productive is not worth her time.

Do not get me wrong. I still get insecure. I still get scared. And I still hate being fragile. I am still an emotional, passionate woman and probably always will be. I still cry…a lot. I have always been a crier and probably always will be. But David taught me that crying is not a sign of weakness and I try to remember that when the tears come…as they invariably do.

I am human and I will make mistakes. I will fuck-up. But hopefully I will not be quite as hard on myself as I once was when I do. I will continue to try and embrace life with all of its insanity and unpredictability and continue to dream. To live. I will hopefully continue to change and evolve and move forward…just like those mix tapes.

Dave loved mix tapes. He used to create them for me regularly. We always had a strong connection to music and throughout our courtship, marriage and life; it has played an integral part. Songs have always been something I identified with. Kind of like sign posts for the moments in our lives. Little musical moments that bring back specific memories and emotions.

And over the years as those tapes became CD’s, he did not make quite as many as he once did in those first few years, but he still made them. Sometimes they would find their way into a card or onto my front seat …waiting for me on my drive to work. They always had a theme. Dave was all about themes. And they were splendid! His mixes had a certain rhythm and cadence to them. I used to throw a bunch of songs on a CD I liked and call it a mix and David would laugh. Mine were always a bit of everything. Scattered and quirky…kinda like me.

Music was such a big part of our lives from the moment we met. We both loved music and it was something we shared. I have always believed music has the power to transport you to wherever you want to be. It can uplift your spirits and make you soar and it can also strip you down to your core, laying your vulnerabilities bare. And seeing as our love affair began with music…so it should end that way.

So, I think it is time for one last mix for David. I know it may not have the same flow and rhythm David’s would have had, but I will do my best.

Below is a brief musical journey through our life. Songs that were quintessentially David or pivotal in our lives and marriage; little moments captured in song of our all too brief life together. And a few that reflect my own journey through grief and my path towards a new future…

Two songs are missing from my mix link because the songs were not available to be added.
Men without Hats – On Tuesday
Assemblage 23 - Drive

A song list is below as well and a little bit of history on the songs I chose and why....

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The Hooters-And We Danced
This song takes me back to the early years…

B-52’s – Roam
Dave loved the B-52’s and this song reminds me of all the travels we were going to go on and places we were going to see, but never got the chance.

The Rembrandts – Chase the Clouds Away
I came across a mix tape that David had made for me way back when we were dating in 1993. I absolutely loved this song then and what it had to say. Ironically, it became more apt in the final years of our marriage than it was then. Strange how life leads us down different paths than we expected to take.

Dire Straits – Romeo and Juliet
People used to say our love was like a fairy tale, sometimes comparing us to Romeo and Juliet. Unfortunately, we were two close to that fateful pair and ours was a tale of tragedy too. But we both always loved this song and its passion. A love that would transcend everything.

Genesis – Follow You Follow Me
The lyrics pretty much say it all. Genesis was one of David’s favorite bands and we saw them in concert his last year of life. When this song came on, it brought David to tears. I think we both knew that we were on the final stretch of this journey and that our paths would be parting in the near future.

Indigo Girls – Power of Two
This was played on every road trip and the song was us, simply said.

John Mellencamp – Your Life is Now
Dave always loved this song and it was the one he chose to be played at his ‘Celebration of Life.’ It was his motto. His favorite line was, “Do you believe you’re a victim of a great compromise cause I believe you could change your mind and change our lives.”

Tom Petty – Wildflowers
I was his wildflower, hence the name of my blog.
He always said this was my song…

John Mellencamp – Dance Naked
Dave always used to sing this to me and even now it always brings a smile to my face.

Crazy Town – Butterfly
He always used to sing this one to me too. Although I have never had a tongue ring. ;)

Men without Hats – On Tuesday
This song just reminds me of him, when we met and our 15 years together.

Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars
Lazy days in bed. A beautiful love song…

VNV Nation – Darkangel (Gabriel)
This was David’s anthem song. He used to sing it with such passion. He was so angry about what the Cancer did to our life. To our family. To me. He always talked of what I had to do and how much he hated it. How it killed him to see it tearing me apart.

The All-American Rejects – Move Along
David used to crank this on the way to surgeries, chemo, appointments…you name it. It got him focused and ready for “battle” I used to say. It kind of became my own anthem for a time after he died. Keeping me moving forward, despite every ounce of my being wanting to curl up and fade away.

The Weepies – The World Spins Madly on
I blogged about this once and this post pretty much says it all.
Post titled: The world spins madly on... Friday, July 04, 2008

Lifehouse – Broken
The lyrics say it all and the chorus pretty much captures the place I was emotionally after David died.

Train-When I look to the Sky
If this song isn’t about bereavement, I don’t know what is. All the lyrics are fitting, but the opening lines I have always felt were so true.
Ingrid Michaelson – Keep Breathing
Read the title. This song is beautiful and haunting. Enough said…

Shiny Toy Guns – Rainy Monday
David never heard Shiny Toy Guns but this song reminded me of him. He would have absolutely loved this band.

David died on a rainy Monday, and it rained for days after. But now when I hear this song, I think about David. And although he is gone, I still have the love and beauty that resides inside me…and always will. Not that this song is remotely about that, but that is what it reminds me of.

Assemblage 23 – Drive
I love this song, the lyrics, everything. And as the song says, “The open road unwinds before me, an onyx ribbon spreading out. No idea where I'll be going, sometimes the journey is what counts.” After everything I have seen and experienced, I now believe that the journey is what matters in life, not the destination.

Van Halen – Dreams
This song is just Skye. Pure Skye. I have always loved the line, “Standing on broken dreams, but never losing sight.” It is such a visual image and one I believe to my core. That is life. Some dreams are lost along the way and new ones rise like a phoenix out of those ashes.

I believe we all should continue to dream. Live. Believe. Hope.
Standing on all of our broken dreams and daring to reach towards the sky once more...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Balancing Act…

Everything in life is just that…a balancing act. I am finding this is even more so for parenthood and more specifically single parenthood.

Someone once told me that you can never be both a mom and a dad. Ok, I understand that. Physically, can not be both. And yes, there are limitations to all of us and how much we can be for our children. But I think one can try as hard as hell to be as much emotionally and physically that they can be. No, I am not a replacement for David and never deluded myself into thinking I ever could be. But I will attempt to fill the gaps that he has left as well as I can.

I remember after David was diagnosed I used to watch him. Watch him interact with Alec. Watch him be a dad. We never gave up hope, but in the back of my mind I knew there was a very real chance that David was not going to be around to raise Alec. The diagnosis was terminal and although we fought like hell for David’s survival…that was ever present in the back of our minds.

God, it pissed me off. That Alec should lose his dad so young. That he would not ever know the amazing person he was. That from the young age of one and a half, Alec was never going to know his father as Cancer free…as healthy. I used to scream at the universe. With all the shitty dads out there, the dads that chose not to be present or who were in their kid’s lives but total jackasses. Why? Here David was. An amazing dad and yet he was not going to get to see his son grow up. He would miss his first day of school. His first heartbreak. He would not get to teach him to drive. Or send him off to college. It all seemed so damn unfair. And yet, as we have all painfully learned. Who said life was going to be fair? No one. And Alec is lucky in the fact that he did have such a wonderful father who loved and adored him. Even if he is no longer with him today and as he grows into a man, Alec will know that he was loved by his daddy and that if there was any way in his powers, David would have stayed. Would still be here today. And hopefully that will be enough…

David knew this would be an eventuality too. He rarely spoke of it. But he knew. It made him sad. It made him angry. But near the end he seemed to find some sort of peace with it. He worried about Alec and hoped that someday I would find love again so that Alec could see how two people in love should be. He wanted him to grow up knowing what a good relationship was and how it was supposed to be. He wanted Alec to have that role model. I thought he was fucking nuts. How could he be ok with another man raising his child? And yet, now I realize it was not about being ok with it. It was David being the ever pragmatic soul he was and that he was coming to terms with the eventuality of his death. And in the end, he was just trying to make sure we were all going to be ok since he was not going to be physically here much longer to do so. It sucked. But a lot about Cancer and this whole shitty journey sucked.

I remember early on, and even more so once the Cancer began to slowly break down David’s body, that I began watching his interactions with Alec. How he played with him. What he did. Because loath as I am to admit it, men and women are different. I may not be your stereotypical girl, but I am still a woman and I interacted differently with Alec than David did. I was more nurturing. More “motherly.” David was just as tender and loving, but he was also playful and fun! He would pick Alec up and swing him around, throw him to couch and then tickle the hell out of him. He would crawl around on all fours and get right down in the thick of it and just play. I watched all of this and drank it is. Capturing every moment. I think guys tend to be more “physical” with the kids. And I am not making broad generalizations or stereotypes here. I do not want a barrage of irate women emailing me. Ask anyone who knows me, I am all about anti-stereotypes and I break many typecasts every day. But some things I think are just how we are wired.

But as I watched, I committed to memory how they played. How they interacted. And I made a conscious decision three years ago that I would be all of those things and more. So now here we are. David is gone and I am continuing on this road of single parenthood.

I run around. I swing him like a monkey. We dance. We tickle. We play cars. We shoot storm troopers. I tend to be very physical with him and romp about. I will never be able to replace the loss of his father. I know that. I will never be able to fill the void that David has left. But I will endeavor to give him the best that I am able of both worlds…