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TToT: Back After A Long While #OctoberSurprise #BlindnessAwarenessMonth #10Thankful

I could have posted my favourite quote about the month I most love, but that “October” quote from Lucy Maud Montgomery has been added here in previous years. I will stick to my own words today.

I’ve been out of this gratitude post activity for months now. I still practice gratitude in my head and in my heart, but I have my moments of self pity and fear also and so I wanted to break that block I had which kept getting in my way of sharing here.

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

I am thankful for this, my favourite month. The air is fresher and crisper and cleaner than the earthiness of spring or the humid, heavy heated air of summer in southwestern Ontario. Winter is good also, with the smell of snow in the air all around, like a snow globe. I look forward to that, though I worry about people I love who find the long, dark months of winter a challenge to their mental health and energy levels.

I am thankful for my yearly seasonal fresh apples. They are giant, some I call pumpkin apples. They are special and tart/sweet and so crisp and sour at times. I am thankful for those who pick them from the apple trees this time of year.

I am thankful for how Canada is mostly pulling together and facing this pandemic with grace and a common goal of staying healthy, as many of us as possible. I lay low and protect myself, as I’m on my way to 25 years with my father’s kidney come 2022. Those I love are staying safe too.

I’m thankful for staying close to family during such strange times. I am lucky to have parents who taught their four children respect and love for the gift of a sibling, brother or sister, for the different things they bring to the table of sibling closeness. Our parents know they won’t always be here and how important it is to keep growing a bond with a sibling, no matter where life takes any one of us four. We’re here for each other and I don’t see that changing, but I hope I can do my part to keep the bonds strong.

I’m thankful each sibling and I have talks and they each keep me sane, in different ways, at different moments when I might be struggling to voice my concerns and fears over the state of things. I tend to let my imagination run wild with these things, am frightened for what’s to come in the US especially in the coming months. It’s hard here too, as helpless as I feel because I can’t contribute a vote against the man currently occupying the people’s house there in DC. I can only watch from up here, in horror and disgust and embarrassment for it all and the still real possibility that it could go worse still.

I am thankful for a more successful year for me, compared to 2019, dangerously contagious unknown virus that has come upon us in 2020 notwithstanding. I’ve started doing what’s called sensitivity reads for a children’s publisher in Toronto and now an accessibility review for a science journalist who was presenting at some sort of UK science journalism conference. She wanted to do all she could to make her slide presentation, with its images and alt text on those images accessible for everyone and needed someone with a screen reader to look everything over. I feel like I am doing my part in this world to improve accessibility for myself, others with the same needs as I have and that’s something at least..

I am thankful the show I do with my brother is
now available
in more places than one. We’ve had some incredible guests on the show in recent weeks and we’re not done yet.

I’m thankful for the nature documentaries on Netflix I’ve had to escape into for distractions lately.

Most of what’s available on Netflix now is audio described, allowing me to imagine the scenes of wildlife and the natural world in my mind as I’m listening.

Watching these, I felt peaceful for a brief but necessary break in my day, but also I’ve been reminded why I love nature (my religion) and the need for action to protect it.

I’m thankful I have an essay
about Braille
I wrote, published in my third print book, not counting the
magazine
I now have my name on as assistant-editor over the last year or so.

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I probably should have confirmed, but I’m unfortunately unsure I can post the correct photo description, as I am unsure which one I went with here. I just chose one from my photos, one from that day, something with the print magazine my essay is in, me holding it or it being open and showing the page with my name or my story on it.

I’m thankful for the Women Who Travel online study course I’ve been taking, for the virtual walk around New Zealand next month, and the nature writing class I’m taking in January, 2021, all of which give me something meaningful to focus on, to work on, and to use as inspiration until I can travel again one day.

I’m thankful for the recent online fiction writing class I started, every Friday night until right before Christmas. It will keep me accountable..

Though we don’t know what will be by the time Christmas and the end of this wild year arrives, but until then I am doing my best to get by.

So, if you ask me that usual, general question from now until at least 2021 and the hope of a possible COVID-19 vaccine is perfected, even if I sigh, suck it up and answer “fine,” I won’t exactly be fine, but I’m doing what I can to stay hopeful and sometimes I fall back into that trap of answering in a way as to not make others feel uncomfortable to continue any further talk with me.

Thank you, Kristi and everyone, for still being here to show me the way on staying as accountable to being thankful as humanly possible and a recent Happy Birthday to our hostess here at the TToT.

And finally, this is a shot of my pal before I had to say goodbye and have him put down last month.

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RIP and I’m glad there’s no more suffering for you. Staying positive here, as best I can. There’s always something to be thankful for.

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Leap #LeapYear #SoCS

LEAP

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The girl with the striking blue eyes. My main image of her now from our childhood, her head framed by a bunch of curled blonde hair, but her smile made her eyes pop, slightly wild with abandon. Two little girls playing Jacks over recess. Next it was Pogs.

“Frogs?”

“No. Don’t you remember Pogs? And try not to step on my toe this time.” Roger tensed up at the mere suggestion of this, but Beverly knew how he could be. It was worth repeating. “Guilty feet have got no rhythm you know? Or hadn’t you received the memo?”

“Quit quoting Wham lyrics and finish the story,” Roger said, rather than answering on the flattened toe thing.

“I just think that some people seem to miss out on the whole adulting thing and stay forever locked in cycles of poor judgment and they’re lost.”

“That’s how life could be for some souls,” Roger said, hoping to put things in perspective. “Our child will soon be here…and life ends and begins again. I don’t mean to come off as harsh, but I’d like to focus on us right now.”

Perhaps, words coming out of his mouth sounding harsh, but his kind brown eyes didn’t reflect it.

“I know,” Beverly relented. “It’s getting harder and harder to dance with this here, have you noticed?” she said, gesturing toward her pregnant stomach.

“So here we are again, four years later,” Roger said, turning the ring on her finger he’d first placed there on their wedding day. “But why we ever chose to get married on Feb. 29th? I’ll never be too sure.”
Beverly knew he’d have picked another day, but she liked the unconventional.

Now here they were again, approaching a Leap Year end to February. “What were the odds that we’d be so close to the baby arriving at the same time.”

Sure enough, within the final days of the month Beverly started feeling the contractions.

“Maybe we’ll make the news,” Roger said as a distraction as they made their way to the hospital.
“You know, like those babies born first in a brand new year or something.”
Beverly squeezed his hand, a little tighter than necessary, but really…?

Once they were all checked in, the doctor popped his head in the room and left again, but that didn’t have to mean there was something wrong. Again, she squeezed her Leap Year husband’s hand and this time, he squeezed back.
But no need to fear. The rest of the labor progressed rather quickly for a first child, and now they could sit back and wait for the media to hear about this special birth.

“I’m going out to make a few calls, but it looks like you could use sleep anyway.”

“So you’re not abandoning me and your first born right?”
Speaking with an added level of drama. She settled back to snuggle the baby, watching him leave with a grin.

“It’s raining frogs out there,” said a voice. It couldn’t be Roger. It was a female voice, not that of her husband.

“Um, you mean cats and dogs.” Though it was snowing, not rain.

“No, I mean actual frogs. I just thought you would want to know.”
All the snow they’d had, did something go wrong, Beverly thought. Did I die in childbirth?

“Is that your first?” the woman asked, a seemingly routine question immediately after announcing that frogs are dropping from the sky.
Maybe this woman had seen Magnolia too many times.

“Besides that, can I just ask, who are you and what are you doing in my room?”

“I came with the frogs and they are my friends. Don’t worry. We’re only here this one day. The scheduling does not let us come even every year, but every four instead.”

“Can I help you with something else then?” Beverly asked, patting the baby gently on the back.

“Every February 29 I come here, with my frog friends, to greet and congratulate new mothers and I even offer newborn cuddle duty.”

Holding her little Leap Year baby, Beverly could certainly see where this friend of the frogs was coming from on that one.

“You don’t recognize me, but I’ve lived with the frogs for a while now and I’m less myself than I once was.”

Beverly glanced from her babies face and with her beautiful brown eyes like her father, and then back up at the stranger in the doorway.

Those eyes, it suddenly hit her.
Then, from over the intercom came a voice all business like:

“I’m afraid we’re locking the hospital down. There’s no need for alarm, but if you look outside, you may have noticed that it has changed from snow to frogs out there. Not safe at this time for us to leave the
prot”ect”ion
of this hospital. We’re calling in our janitorial maintenance team and they are all over it.”

At this, the stranger snapped to attention. “Oh no, my friends.”

Before Beverly could say a word, she was alone again with her child, but again she looked from her baby’s brown eyes to the eyes of that woman who was now off to join her frog friends on this Leap Year night, no longer staring back.

“Sorry I took so long,” Roger said. “Did you hear what’s going on out there?”
He walked to the window to briefly glance out at the scene on the other side of the glass before coming back to her side and gently lifting the baby from Beverly’s arms. “Take a break. You still haven’t gotten any sleep.”

Was he sure, Beverly wondered.
Again, Roger had walked back over to the window, little bundle asleep in his arms. “Wake up little girl,” her father said, slightly, ever so slightly nudging the infant.
“Look, little one,” he said. “All this for you. Frogs arriving to welcome you on this special day.”
Roger didn’t even sound overly concerned about what this Leap Year had brought.
Until… ”Wait, what’s that?”

“What?” Beverly asked, with a sharp intake of breath that hurt. “I don’t know if I can get out of this bed, but what is it?”
She tried to move off the bed, but for a moment she felt dizzy and nauseous.

“Easy,” Roger urged, letting her lean on him while he supported their baby in the crook of his other arm.

“So, what am I looking at?”

Across the parking lot, there could be seen a tiny figure, arms out stretched and twirling as more and more of them just kept coming down.

By March, the frogs had vanished, baby Britney was home with her parents, and all would remain frog free, all the rest of the days of the year, until maybe, when next a Leap Year rolls around, look out your window.

In and out, like a lamb, lion, frogs and their friend.

Twirling twirling. That little girl with the blue eyes and blonde hair, who loved holding newborns and rocking them to sleep while her friends kept on falling.

RIPAG

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TToT: An Ode and Lament For “No Need to Argue” #FlashbackFriday #10Thankful

Had they but courage equal to desire?

William Butler Yeats – Poetry Foundation

It’s around that time: celebrating The Cranberries biggest and best of all their albums – No Need to Argue, 1994.

First off, I just like that message, being someone who never liked to argue much at all myself.

It’s not only one big time radio single that’s on offer here, but a lovely and haunting collection of songs, that moves me from start to finish.

From family ties to Ireland’s well-known Troubles to a tribute to a long-since-passed Irish poet.

During the later half of the 90’s, I’d place the tape in my walkman, crank the volume in my headphones, and drown out the world, a world of medical tests and uncertain outcomes. Not all my childhood was about, but a big big part of it and this album was a piece of that.

And it all started with my sister (thanks) and an Irish boy on our school bus.

RIP again, Dolores, and a great owing of gratitude to the entire band for this album.

What album (not song) has been there, done this sort of thing in your life? Albums are often neglected pieces of art as a whole.

Ode and Lament (From my 20th anniversary post for this album.)

I’m back for another round of
Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful
and this week I am thankful for more than ten things, but for every song on this memorable album and for those who made it – those still alive and those no longer with us.

I think of that quote from the top of this post and hearing her murmur those words of W.B. Yeats (in that song on the album) and I often wonder if my courage is equal to my desire for so many things.

Her haunted voice will forever ring inside my head.

Had they but courage equal to desire?

Had I? Have I?

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What Happened to Holly Bartlett?

Adventures in Low Vision

Podcast artwork shows a headshot photo of a smiling Holly with short blond hair in the upper right with the silhouette of the bridge on the left and title centered low in black text over white background. Word-of-mouth is a great way to receive recommendations. And it’s how I heard of the AMI podcast, What Happened to Holly Bartlett, narrated and written by Canadian journalist Maggie Rahr and produced by Ocean Entertainment. Recently, Toby Ball of the Crime Writers On… podcast mentioned it. I was interested when he said Holly Bartlett was a young woman who was blind and lived independently. Her friends don’t believe she would have ended up unconscious under a bridge near her home without foul play. When Toby said the investigation was affected by opinions of blindness, I knew I needed to hear Holly’s story.

On a night I couldn’t sleep, I subscribed to the show and started listening. I was happy to hear a Scarlett Johansson quality voice–the local investigative reporter Rahr–not a hype-man amateur bumbling around. She wasn’t creating episodes for ad revenue, entertainment, or to take undeserved credit for…

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TToT: Back in March and Farewell to Luke – GoGo Go #10Thankful

I have been packing for New York City while still in disbelief about the death of Luke Perry, who played Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills 90210, my favourite teen drama of the 90’s.

I’m thankful for all the television he gave me over the years on that show.

I’m thankful I had a memorable time with a house guest back in February.

I’m thankful to be getting ready to travel for an unforgettable weekend in NYC.

I’m thankful Brian and I were featured on the CBC here in London, Ontario.

We did our show (six month anniversary episode) while a video reporter captured us, on film and camera. Then he interviewed us and published the video and the written piece on the CBC website:

Blind brother and sister help others ‘see’ their world – CBC London

I’m thankful the morning show interviewed us about Outlook then too.

Outlook on London Morning

I’m thankful for Canadian healthcare, for the x-ray I received of my knees and big toes. I’ve had pain in both places for a few years now. I wonder if there’s anything to see in those pictures. I’m just glad I didn’t receive a bill for that medical test.

I’m thankful for a delightful salad of fruits and vegetables.

I’m thankful for the snow, while it’s still around, and for the sound it makes when it’s freshly fallen and powdery underfoot.

I’m thankful
Kristi
is willing to help me still be able to take part in the TToT, even though the accessibility has become an issue.

I’m thankful for February’s birthday celebrations and for the last two years, with many more to come, with my niece in our lives.

I’m thankful for March and for lions and lambs.

“Mad, bad, and dangerous to know.”

RIP Luke.

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TToT: From Longest Month To Shortest #AllOverNow #10Thankful

“January so far has been a month of cold gray days, with an occasional storm whirling across the harbor and filling Spook’s Lane with drifts. But last night we had a silver thaw and today the sun shone. My maple grove was a place of unimaginable splendors. Even the commonplaces had been made lovely. Every bit of wire fencing was a wonder of crystal lace.”

Letter from Anne to Gilbert ANNE OF WINDY POPLARS

Though I took a few weeks break, I am still full of gratitude and I am finishing off the month, looking ahead to February and beyond.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for the sound of Canada geese out my window.

I heard them out in the cold January sky, just as I heard sad news from the literary world, and something about it felt less coincidental and more like a sign of a poet leaving this world.

I am thankful for poetry like that of Mary Oliver and her love of nature and the natural world, which she showed through her poems.

I am thankful for orchestral musicians and their conductor who keep up and play the beautiful music of a Harry Potter soundtrack, as I watched the movie on the big screen with a bunch of other crazed HP fans.

I am thankful for snow that’s like cotton balls, like the kind that makes me feel its cold, but also like maybe I’m living inside of one of those snow globes.

I am thankful for the energy of a productive violin lesson where I know why it is I love the instrument so much.

I am thankful for a few minutes of time with my niece playing beside me, even while on the phone. She is the sweetest, coming and sitting beside me and cuddling, then hiding under the blanket.

I am thankful for our thing together where I sing the Elton John line: I’m still standing … and she then sings the next part, yeah yeah yeah.

As cute as it is that she now does high fives and fist bumps, that’s more of a silent action, whereas the singing is an audible one.

I am thankful for new Dido music:

I am thankful for classic love songs, duets, and for beautiful musical talent.

Lots of sadness in the music world, with love song guru James Ingram dying and I end off January with one more glimpse of the voice we lost, one year ago:

RIP to them both and to Mary Oliver too.

I am thankful for the end of January and February arriving, a short month (my birthday month) now beginning.

Well, if I am living inside of a snow globe, time to shake things up! Bye bye January and hello February to come.

The Garden In Winter

Frosty-white and cold it lies
Underneath the fretful skies;
Snowflakes flutter where the red
Banners of the poppies spread,
And the drifts are wide and deep
Where the lilies fell asleep.

But the sunsets o’er it throw
Flame-like splendor, lucent glow,
And the moonshine makes it gleam
Like a wonderland of dream,
And the sharp winds all the day
Pipe and whistle shrilly gay.

Safe beneath the snowdrifts lie
Rainbow buds of by-and-by;
In the long, sweet days of spring
Music of bluebells shall ring,
And its faintly golden cup
Many a primrose will hold up.

Though the winds are keen and chill
Roses’ hearts are beating still,
And the garden tranquilly
Dreams of happy hours to be­
In the summer days of blue
All its dreamings will come true.”

—L.M. Montgomery

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No Going Back, #JustJoJan

Two crime proceedings happening in Canada this week.

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One, a monster pleads guilty for his crimes. Good. His victims are not here to
testify,
but family is always more than willing.

The other, a senseless crash between a bus and a truck last spring and bereaved loved ones
testify
about how they’ve been forever affected.

The first, evil. The second, a careless accident.

A bunch of young men, athletes, and coaches were killed. Many were badly hurt and injured. A man must live with that fact all the rest of his days. The forgiveness, though it may not have been found by all at this time, was shown with moving offerings from families toward the man who was at the wheel of that truck.

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Whistle A Tune As You March Toward Hell #FilmReview #JusJoJan

The documentary begins and ends with their voices, ghostly, from the past.

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All of them, their collective voice is a powerful
echo
of a war with no discernible point, but massive waste and loss of life. But still, they must not be forgotten.

I love Peter Jackson for his bringing to life of Middle-earth and now he shows us what fresh hell war was/is, and not the kind of war in fiction where men and elves and dwarves (with the help of a wizard) defeat the orcs in an epic battle. It’s reality at its worst.

From what I hear, the grainy old footage moves into vivid modern colour and then back into the old shots, but I see none of it.

I don’t see the ugly part of war, bodies blown apart and such, but I do hear the bursting of artillery in battle, the men crying out, shots and screams coming from all around me as the surround sound has me sitting on edge, forward and stiff in my seat.

Archival recordings from the 1960’s and 1970’s, of the First World War veterans, all the way back to actual British army camera shots and film that was taken, live on the western front. Lip readers were even brought in by Jackson to interpret what was being said in those shots. Actual interview voices speaking, with no narrator. I wasn’t sure what to expect, if I could get enough from the film, but these kinds of documentaries are usually accessible, for the most part.

From the boys they were, lying about their ages to sign up and on into their basic and specific training. To heading into misunderstood horrors of war. To the trench life to off duty time. To the lead-up toward the battle itself. Then to the aftermath and home once more, for the lucky ones.

It ends where it began, with the time passing habit of whistling and the innocent sound that portrays, the nonchalant spirit of such a tune.

It’s all ringing
echoes
of history in Jackson’s latest film, which played in theatres in Canada on January 21st, for only one day and two months after the anniversary of the armistice that finally ended World War I – They Shall Not Grow Old is a solemn phrase of fact for millions and a gripping title for Peter’s latest. Check it out when and where you can.

It’s not about why the war happened, but rather what it was like being there. And still, I left asking “why?” anyway.

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TToT: Whether In Mirrors Or Lakes (Special Reflections Edition) #RIP #BeardGuy #JusJoJan #10Thankful

Another week has gone by. We’re back at another
Ten Things of Thankful
and,
like last week,
I’ve figured out how to link these two.

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I like me a good
reflection
blog post.

In doing that is how, where and why I discover my gratitude lists from within.

Thanks to this feature blogger,
for this word that’s fitting,
right along with a list of thankfuls.

I am thankful for
the reflections
of other creatives.

I am thankful for other bloggers. They offer endless reading and character in their owners. I can reflect back on all the bloggers I’ve gotten to know here, and even over on BlogSpot.

I am thankful for soda water. I have always loved water, back when I used to get a glass of the refreshing liquid, out of the jug in my oma’s fridge or from the tap, in the glass from my grandma that I now drink out of to remember her and the love of water we both shared. I like to drink less pop/soda and so bubbly water is refreshing and a nice compromise, no sugar.

I am thankful for violins in their beauty as my favourite instruments. I can reflect in how far I’ve come since I started to learn, from starting soon after turning thirty-two to soon turning thirty-five.

I am thankful for this blog, which will soon celebrate five years in existence here on WP.

I am thankful for WP. It is a platform I can at least minimally use, as a place to share my writing. I remember back ten years ago or so, when I tried to set up a blog here, but then I had different voice software and it was nearly impossible. Oh how far I’ve come, along with the technology I use every day.

I am thankful for the haircuts I get at my cousin’s salon, as I reflect back to the earliest days of me dying my hair, in my early twenties. She started out at someone else’s salon, and now she runs her own.

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Caption: me with my re-darkened hair for winter, in my new outfit.

I am thankful for gently used clothing. I can reflect on the person I used to be, afraid to wear anything secondhand, even though I’ve always loved and believed things used by others come with a story. I found a few things at the little shop she has, including a pair of boots to take when I travel in a few months, assuming #45 doesn’t hold his government hostage on an ongoing basis, making airports chaotic by the time I am scheduled to fly.

I am thankful for dinner with my father, lunch with a friend, and a spot on my municipal accessibility committee where I was well received my first time there.

I am thankful for the Christmas tree that is now a light tree, just outside my living room window. Thanks to my mom. Thanks, also, to my brother who is going to help me get a better deal on a plan for my phone.

These are simple yet powerful thankfuls, alongside all my reflecting.

I am thankful for this song. I used to love it, for a long time, without realizing who it was. Then I heard the news of the death of one of the members of the group. They had a memorial of music, in his memory, not far from me.

I can reflect on the year since Dolores of The Cranberries died suddenly and I understand that life is short.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bt-FHaFVH8

RIP Beard Guy.

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Boy, Oh Boy, #RIP #SongLyricSunday

December gloom.

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I haven’t been participating in
Song Lyric Sunday
for several weeks now, but December brings with it a whole lot of emotion: both joyousness and gloominess.

I’ve been thinking about those who were once boys, who eventually turned into men, and of whom we’ve lost in the month of December.

This song reminds me of family who were lost, seven years ago, as we approach the anniversary of his passing:

This is a month of joyousness at Christmas, but of sorrow in life lost to suicide too. The two contrasting emotions are stark when I experience them now, every year since.

***

If I die young
bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song
Uh oh uh oh

Lord make me a rainbow,
I’ll shine down on my mother
She’ll know I’m safe with you when She stands under my colours,
oh and Life ain’t always what you think it oughta be,
no Ain’t even grey, but she buries her baby
The sharp knife of a short life,
Well, I’ve had just enough time

If I die young
bury me in satin.
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song

The sharp knife of a short life,
Well I’ve had just enough time

And I’ll be wearing white
when I come into your kingdom
I’m as green as the ring on my little cold finger
I’ve never known the lovin’ of a man
But it sure felt nice when he was holding my hand
There’s a boy here in town says he’ll love me forever
Who would have thought forever could be severed by
The sharp knife of a short life,
Well I’ve had just enough time

So put on your best boys and I’ll wear my pearls
What I never did is done

A penny for my thoughts,
oh no I’ll sell them for a dollar
They’re worth so much more after I’m a goner
And maybe then you’ll hear the words I been singin’
Funny when you’re dead how people start listenin’

If I die young
bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song
Uh oh (uh oh)

The ballad of a dove Go with peace and love Gather up your tears, keep ’em in your pocket Save ’em for a time when your really gonna need ’em oh

The sharp knife of a short life,
Well I’ve had just enough time

So put on your best boys, and I’ll wear my pearls

Songwriters: Kimberly Perry
If I Die Young lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

***

Here we go again, I thought, as I was given the news and had to tell my loved ones the horrible details.

This wasn’t my family’s first time dealing with suicide of a loved one. Different side of the family, but same shock and grief.

As I recently listened to cassette tapes with my brother of our childhood, I listened to old Christmas parties and of all the kids playing, the boys playing rougher, as sometimes they are known to do. I never did hear him, as he was always a quiet boy, but I heard other cousins calling his name. Stevie, he was often called.

December is my month of pure happiness, as I remember the innocence I felt, as a young girl this time of year.

Now, that happiness is tinged with a gloominess that slices this month in half for me, as far as the festive mood I try to find.

John Lennon was also a boy once, in the biggest boy band of the day, in the 1960’s, and he is being mourned all over again, as every December rolls around.

This is my favourite John Lennon song to end this post:

A song of a sincere apology given after jealousy.

RIP John and Steven.

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