death and grief begin their dance in my heart
again, again I’m to tread the worn flagstone
again to pick up my broken heart, carry on
lend my aching shoulder for my friend’s grief
steeling my soul so my support may, strong be

burned into my cortex
profound sadness, misery in
my father’s eyes
his daughter was gone
the only one who
followed him into
barbering

as now

my good friend’s loss
of his only daughter
there, in his eyes, voice, manner
despair, heartache, grief
however strong, burly he be
his broken heart is in shards

I do not write about work very often. Preferring it is our business, so to speak. But at these times, as a part of my own route to healing, this I need do.

Mortality: “the state of being subject to death”
How often I’ve heard:
“I’ll be living forever.”
Denial, might be
defiance of that great
and final outcome. Perhaps,
akin to, a part of, basic
instincts, survival, perhaps.

New years day, I was at home alone watching some movies when I saw on my Twitter feed that Lemmy from Motorhead died. I noticed before that his bio film was on Netflix, so I viewed it. Admittedly I’m not a Motorhead fan, but I’m sure a few songs came my way back in the 70’s and 80’s when I bashed my guitar (and bass) around. Loved the bio, he was a down-to-earth, tough talking, tender-hearted bass player. Would have loved to meet him.

Then the Sunday after new years I get a phone call. Over the weekend the First Nation I work for suffered two passings. One, an Elder with many health problems, was somewhat expected. But then, another, a good, kind man, with a big heart, died suddenly.

The grief surged through my texts, email, phone calls.

That night something happened to me. The middle of the night, laying somewhere between waking and sleep: these aboriginal, circular images came to my vision, one blending with the other, I opened my eyes thinking I was asleep and they stopped. But resumed when I closed my eyes again. Was it a vision? Of what? It affected me profoundly. But then I woke up, it was morning and the visions were gone. Truthfully I didn’t recognize, nor remember them, and not having a great drawing hand, I couldn’t recall or record them. I’m sure this was messaging, from somewhere, someone. Having happened just after the passing of a man with deep aboriginal cultural beliefs, it may have been from him. It would make sense; he was always at the ready to teach.

Got to work that week and had a heart to heart with staff about the passings of the two members of the community. We’ve been through this before, nearly two years ago a staff member suddenly passed away. Horrific. You can read about this here: “Enigmatic”.

Much the same flow of grief through the community, staff… myself. But we didn’t have time to allow the shock to find us as we have two funerals to help with. The first funeral, as it was primarily taken on by another Nation, went smoothly and quickly. However, the younger member (I’ll call him K) who passed suddenly had a few complications. K has a wife overseas whom he had married a year ago. While K was working on bringing her over here, it wasn’t completed and we had to scramble to obtain a travel Visa for her. We did everything we could with paperwork, calling our local MP, here country’s immigration, etc.

Then, January 11th I wake up to find David Bowie passed. Loved him, his music. I wept. But, I know it wasn’t specifically for him, it was one of those triggers of the emotive dam. For all that pent-up, no-time-for-crying tears to wash my cheeks, give release to my substantial grief.

Back to K, the funeral and wake were held off as it was hoped his wife could get here in time.

Then I heard Alan Rickman passed. Another flood of tears.

There are many details to tell (I’ll note the reason for privacy below), eventually we had to do K’s funeral and burial, unfortunately without his wife’s presence.

My truth is this. I love First Nation rituals and practices. I was brought up in strict roman catholic nonsense. Yes nonsense. All the hypocrisy drove me to drink, literality!

First Nation people? They take their protocol and practices quite seriously and practice it each and every day. One of the main reasons I re-connected with my Metis roots, as I knew part of me knew there was more out there than just European rites and rituals.

To witness the drumming, singing, the prayers; the hear how they look at life and death as only a part of the cycle of the world. Beautiful. To hear, no feel the drum circle and singers. I closed my eyes, allowed the beat take my heart on a journey I’ve not had before.

But that is as far as I’ll go with what happened in their ceremonies. What they do is their own private matter and I respect that. First Nation’s people of Canada have had enough of their lives, culture and people torn asunder by the powers that be.

Again though, to witness such beauty and power of belief and ritual is gratifying and made my own heart stronger to partake.

Safe travels up river my friend.

phone, left at the office
email re-directed to another
time’s come for
away, away, away

first time since
stepping into leadership
September last
has the phone, email
been held, nipped, cut off

this Annus horribilis
misinformed bullshit via
government’s hogtie, expounded via
media’s rude embellishment

then vanished because…
K’s sudden, sorrowful passing
Her laughter, smile absent
a sad, empty office
broken, empty hearts
lessons in our grief
to be happy
no matter pain, situation

through the stress
migraines, searing back pain
halting my love of golf

still

gratitude finds my soul
in my fiftieth year
good has come
given us
all we need

© 2014 by DC Lessoway

Last Monday night, as we were all leaving work, K was making a funny face to us as she drove away.

The next morning, warm, sunny, I was driving in and had this flash, this image of K, lying on the floor, receiving chest compressions. I remember shaking it off in a ‘what am I thinking’ notion.

Arriving at work I started my day as normal, everyone arriving, the usual welcoming chatter, laughter filling the office. I realize K is missing as she’s usually early, where is she?

My phone rings and its one of my managers, her voice, usually upbeat, was soft, broken, as she said something strange. The lull in the moment between her last words and my realization became ever sharp, harrowing. Not much of the next minute or so am I able to recall.

“What happened?”

“Massive heart attack.”

Immediately the imagery I had earlier struck me, but now accompanied by a knifing to my chest, shoulders. As my senses returned, a distressing anguish came to me: I have to tell her co-workers, her friends, those who loved her (as they are one and the same), that K is gone and is not returning to join into their laughter, their loving, mutual appreciation society that I was immensely grateful to partake in.

Meanwhile the manager said she was sending two healers to help staff deal with this aching loss.

Everyone gathered and how they looked to me. Their kind, beaming faces questioning. That moment I didn’t want to beak their hearts, didn’t want to shatter their world, and didn’t want to release that cruel hammer of grief.

Before the last of my words finished reverberating, tears, like rivers, were flowing. A tsunami of shock, sorrow came at me. Nothing was left to give voice to and in silence we stepped into the shadowed dominion of mourning.

In the ensuing days, burning sage and sweetgrass filled the air, we had aboriginal healers in to help ease the pain individually and collectively. While arduous, it was liberating to sit in a circle, going around four times to speak of her smile, her laughter, her kindness, her teachings we will each hold close and what her loss will mean to us. We agreed with the Chief when he said, “We are family.”

Yesterday was her memorial, so many were there to celebrate a good, kind, friend, sister, daughter, aunt, cousin.

We will miss you K.

Desert of Contentment

 

joy, contentment, bliss, jubilation
being in a good, safe place
wondrous for the soul
brutal for the writer

see
the effortless finger root out
lulls between creative periods
such is the nature of happiness
for this man’s creative voice

greater creative production
equates personal turbulence
grief generates considerable
yield, wattage via these fingers
torrents written in
quietus of
the close, distant

in-between times
true script finds me yet, irregularly
perched in ironic, flowered, happy valleys
sun-basked, toes in warm waters
oh so content

acclaimed scribes
such brutal lives led
scorching veins, drowning benders
their celebrated words
cure us mere mortals, yet
profoundly impotent in
giving reprieve from
their demons

© 2014 by DC Lessoway

a process
a journey
a state of being
a way
a tattered flag
fluttering in a chilled wind
at the fragmenting cliffside
signaling drastic change
discarding outdated beliefs, stagnant patterns
melding tired laws, with unfamiliar truths
momentarily whitewashed with stoic acceptance
a façade of ether
then
imperceptibly, inaudibly, invisibly
time plus tears plus anger plus acceptance
all such aching nonsense, it seemingly becomes
still
still
a covert, bottomless pang remains
remains

© 2014 by DC Lessoway

Brian couldn’t sleep.

He arrived late Friday night at the rustic cabin an hour’s drive from the blustery city. A spur of the moment thing. It was late August and he’d been to the cabin twice since May. Guilt the likely trigger. How could he not frequent such a quiet, sanctuary from the cruelty of the world. Too busy to go. Always too busy.

He flings away the covers, the cool air flushing over him, refreshing. How he used to leap out of bed, to catch the last few stars wink out in the deep violet sky. Age, must be age. His joints like popcorn as he flips his sinewy legs over the edge. Stretch. Ah. How easily the flexibility returns. A faint pressure in his bladder prompts him to get up.

He fumbles his way to the kitchen. Pausing to wonder aloud why he always bumps into things. The furniture in the rectangular, open-plan cabin hadn’t moved since 1975. A flick of the light brings stars to his mind’s eye. The external shutters on the windows might be closed, but likely not. A moonless night. Bodily functions cared too, coffee ready. He sinks quickly into a faraway reverie as the wakening elements of the toaster reflect on the glossy ceiling. His distant eyes brought back to focus by a faint flitter against the panel windows. Several large moths, attracted by the light, carelessly bump against the glass. Memories of bygone evening moth hunts bear a flush of youthful verve. Coffee and toast on the dock!

The creaking screen door echoes in the quiet. He struggles to keep the door from slamming while balancing his coffee and toast. A sweater and jeans might have been cozier than a tee-shirt and shorts. A faint hint of deep indigo hovers in the far east above the lapping, rippled waters. Late summer in this northern lake the sun appears later, cooler. Wet from the dewy grass, chilled sand sticks to his feet as he nearly stumbles onto the dock. A short walk out over the water and he finds an abandoned aluminum chair. In fleeting rush of anger he realizes his brilliant university student, but scatterbrained son, Tyler, the likely culprit.

Impressions of stifling summer afternoon: the course paper of a favored book, in the same chair, on the same dock, the waxing and waning roar of water craft, the ceaseless chatter of seven-year old Tyler splashing about. The calming timbre of her voice.

The gloom invades and expels the memory. A salty sting in his eyes rouse him in time to see his toast splash in the inky water. Returns the dry mouth, throbbing ache. He sets the coffee down, steps out of the chair and lies on his back on the plants of the dock.

Emblazoned stars of the Milky Way bring a sort of, relief. That maybe she, up there, possibly aches as well.

© 2013 by DC Lessoway