Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Double-Edged Sword

Thursday has lately been assigned, at least temporarily, my "Home Work Day." In theory, it is the day intended for me to work at home, doing all the things I am unable to do when I am at the restaurant chained to either the kitchen or the front counter. All those things that have been put on the back burner for the past twenty months. Like food cost analysis. And sourcing new vendors. And planning marketing strategy. The "big girl" stuff of owning one’s own business.
In reality, Thursdays have become the day that I make hopeful stabs at all those things, while catching up on laundry, sucking up months-old dust bunnies, scrubbing neglected floors and toilets, and generally attempting to reconnect with the parts of my past life that have been in limbo for those same twenty months. That’s a helluva lot to try to pack into one day a week.
However, when any given Thursday starts to burst at the seams—usually around the time the hubs is set to get home from work—I just chuck it and take the rest of the day off. The reasoning behind this being that I’m more than deserving of a couple of hours of hooky every week. Life is so much more bearable when I allow myself that one little nod to the fukkits.
There are days, like today, when I’m even in danger of straying too close to those corridors of the past that it is just as well that I no longer tread. My depleted yet rebellious brain takes me right to those thresholds, and beyond. And if I’m lucky, I find that some of those halls have lost their awful sting…
How well I remember when CD’s were new technology…it can’t be nearly twenty years ago, can it? Christmas of 1991, we gifted ourselves with our very first multi-cd-changer. (And, ummm…we still own it.) Those were our prosperous, self-indulgent years—that first half of the last decade of the last millennium… I indulged my love of music to the tune of amassing a collection of nearly 100 cd’s in a matter of a couple of years.
I developed a passion for what my family came to call "space music." Soft jazz, new age classical, Celtic instrumentals…think "Narada" and "Windham Hill." It was the perfect antidote to the frenetic pace of my life. I would come home from work, pour a glass (or several) of wine, and float away on the hypnotic tones of that soothing music. Eventually it became, and remains, my signature sound.
My sister took to requesting that I play my music almost constantly when she visited from the Midwest. Eventually, I presented her with copies of several of "our" favorite cd’s to take home and enjoy. She could play them and be transported back to my living room, thousands of miles away. Back to the family that left her behind…the family into whose bosom she was re-enfolded for one month out of each summer. Until she got too sick to travel.
In the hospital, as she grew weaker and closer to passing, her daughters and I would play her favorite cd’s to soothe her. In the end, those recordings became, to me, the anthems of her death. Reminders of that horrible, tear-drenched time.
I had my own copies of those cd’s. And though I believed in my heart that if I never heard any of that music again, it would be too soon…for whatever reason, I couldn’t throw them away. I exiled them to the least accessible corners of my cd cabinet. Came upon them from time to time when searching for something to plug into the cd changer that I hadn’t heard in awhile. Held them in my hands, sighed, and returned them to that exile. For years.
Until last week.
I reached into the dusty corner, retrieved the little jewel case with the pastel abstract on the cover. No tears, no sigh…just a quietness. A solemnity. I wondered, could I listen to this, now? Had it been long enough—almost thirteen years? Would I feel a simple wistful remembrance, rather than a pain beyond endurance, at the sound? All at once, that feeling of rebellion—that fractious desire to walk up and spit into the eye of the demons that I have allowed to bully my spirit—overcame me. I cracked open the case and put that cd into the changer. And waited.
The first notes of the harp issued mellifluously from the speakers, and I felt…nothing.
Indeed, it had been so long since I had allowed myself to listen to this music that I barely remembered it at all. It is nice, it’s pretty…it’s soothing. I’ll probably listen to it a lot, from now on. But it doesn’t conjure up any memories of my sister. Good or bad.
Should I feel victorious?
Or… disappointed?



  1. These are questions that I've asked myself repeatedly since my sister was killed.  I think there is a piece of us that wants to be disturbed...wants the pain to continue.  I know that's the case for me.  There's something that feels a bit traitorous about letting the pain go and just getting on with living.  But of course, it's the healthy thing to do.  It's what they would WANT us to do....because they loved us.

    I can't answer your quandry Lisa.  I would feel the same conflict.  It's strange though how it shifts from can I or can't do do this, to should I or shouldn't I respond as I am.  Almost always that response is one of returning to "normal".  I guess you have to give yourself permission to be ok with it.  But, I's not easy.


  2. This "double edge sword" you speak of has a's called TIME.

    Just as you confess in your entry, you spend your days trying to "beat the clock". To squeeze the most amount out of a finite period.
    No wonder so many of us feel like prisoners of time.
    Then you close with this touching remembrance of music played for your sister. You had the expectation that with each note, a cinema would appear and accompany tears falling down your cheeks. It didn't happen...because of Time.

    Just as time cofines us and has subordinated to quickly accomplishing tasks, Times releases us. Each passing year it smooths over the pain, eases the hardship and extracts the anxiety.

    Time is the worlds greatest thief, it takes from us and we can't even see it.
    Time is the worlds harshest master, we need an endless amount and it gives us so little.
    It is a double edged sword!

    Wonderful thought provoking entry!
    May your next hours be spacious and filled with wonder!
    Peace...Marc :)

  3. Definitely feel victorious.  It's been my experience, having lost a sister myself, albeit many years ago now, that the pain remains, always green, and is sometimes summoned by the oddest when it doesn't surface at the sight/sound/smell of something that once brought it rushing forth, that's a good thing, doesn't mean we've forgotten, or don't feel...


  4. Lisa, I didn't comment on this post initially because I just didn't know how to respond.  And yet, I should.  I feel very much the way you do, on some days, and I'm never quite sure if I've made it past the tough part ...