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.
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.
I’m spending this final Song Lyric Sunday
of 2016, talking about a song that explains something about me.
What best describes me this time of year?
Well, this one is a part of a Christmas from my past, my childhood, which is part of a bigger picture of myself.
The memoir I’ve wanted to write for a long time had certain songs ingrained in the narrative, as so many feelings at specific moments of my life define where I was at various stages of growth and development through the years, filtered through the truths of song lyrics.
This one denotes a Christmas, twenty years ago, one where I was ill and had been for months by December, 1996, on kidney dialysis for six months by that time.
A long December and there’s reason to believe Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember the last thing that you said as you were leavin’ Now the days go by so fast
And it’s one more day up in the canyons And it’s one more night in Hollywood If you think that I could be forgiven…I wish you would
The smell of hospitals in winter And the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room To see the way that light attaches to a girl
And it’s one more day up in the canyons And it’s one more night in Hollywood If you think you might come to California…I think you should
Drove up to Hillside Manor sometime after two a.m. And talked a little while about the year
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower, Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her
And it’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell my myself To hold on to these moments as they pass
And it’s one more day up in the canyon And it’s one more night in Hollywood It’s been so long since I’ve seen the ocean…I guess I should
“The smell of hospitals in winter. And the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters, but no pearls,” stands out strongly from the rest of the lyrics, but a long long December/year for sure was how it felt.
All that year I had felt like crap and had felt unheard by doctors and a world who didn’t understand, but frankly, neither did I, for a long time before I received a proper diagnosis.
I heard this song on repeat, a big radio hit at the time, driving back and forth to the hospital and by December, 1996 I was ready for that particular year to come to an end, but the song and the memories would always stay with me.
My luck had been bad and I could only hope for a much improved 1997 and beyond.
This song is a snapshot of me at age twelve and it’s only so poignant because I can look back now, some twenty years onward, from that sick girl I was, to the woman I am now.
Sometimes life feels like things will never be better, like we’re destined to always suffer with something, but time does reveal how that can change.
When I returned from Ireland, I saw them ready to start again, from the beginning. Once again came the shots, the cost, and the trips for the In Vitro, with the retrieval and the implantation. They tried again with the love and the hope we all held for them. This time they would be successful. This time they would have the baby they deserved.
This time was different and this time it was going to work. Again she saw her numbers rise with each phone call and it was a positive pregnancy test. Miracles were indeed possible. Again she began to fill with fluid, having to get it drained multiple times. Once more, as she appeared several months pregnant at only one or two, we saw the process begin again, but this time we watched the whole thing progress toward a brand new outcome.
Just prior to this, she’d written a piece about the struggles they’d gone through, for the fertility clinic’s website. I was honoured when she asked me to read it over for her. All who would read it would cry as she described the suffering she’d gone through and what amazing perseverance they had both shown to get through it all. She wanted this as much for her husband, who wanted so much to be a father, as she’d ever wanted it for herself. It was difficult reading about how badly she wanted to give her love a child of his own to love. She spoke about it all with such raw truth and honesty. I knew I would do whatever I could, be there for her, and one day it would pay off.
She showed up at my door, after one of her early appointments at the clinic: nauseous, holding a bowl, and rushing to the toilet. This was a violent reminder that things were on track. I was around and able to sit with her during the days, when others could not. I watched her continue on in this state, for weeks and weeks. This would be the last Christmas she would be without that precious child she longed for. I needed to look after her and that sweet baby so sorely wished and waited for, which now grew inside her. As she suffered with this extreme bout of weakness and nausea, she knew, and we constantly would remind her of the worthwhileness of it all. It’s easy, in a way, to fight through just about anything, when such wonderful things are to come out of it.
As the news of twins was announced and then the news that one alone showed up on the ultrasound, it was devastating, but how could we be sad when there was a baby to look forward to? Yet still the loss of that second baby, a precious human life and sibling, was a loss just the same.
The pregnancy soon resumed an overall normal state. My sister was able to experience everything other mothers-to-be take for granted, even if she’d experienced things a little backwards. Moderate morning sickness for some is a nine month ordeal for others. I learned a lot about pregnancy by observing its affects firsthand through my sister and sister-in-law during that time. My limited experience with these things had come, previously, from television and books, but this was my family and the people I loved. Infertility was such a lesson that I had never known. The loss of miscarriage and negative pregnancy tests was so heartbreaking that I wondered how anybody ever recovered, but I soon saw that it was indeed possible. that light would and did shine again.
My niece and nephews are that light. Our Reed is that light. As he grows, I am introduced to a whole new world of first’s and joys. As an aunt, it is my greatest honour to get to watch the children in my family grow. He is a miracle for certain, with his beautiful blue eyes that will undoubtedly someday win girls’ hearts everywhere. It reminds me of an Amy Sky song:
As he passes his first birthday and the milestones begin to pile up, I am surprised how fast the time really does fly by. He has developed a personality and highly evident characteristics. My niece is a year and a half ahead of him in the transformation of childhood; her baby brother makes three. I look ahead to their futures and I treasure every moment I get to be witness to all these things, as I see them with the other four senses I still possess.
I had a lack of prior babysitting experience that one often accumulates during the teenage years. Most parents might not have been all that eager to leave me alone with their children and I had no confidence in myself to want that anyway, but I did miss something of value in just such a hobby as a teenager. I am finally given the opportunity to prove myself just as capable as anyone else. I’ll admit that the diaper changes aren’t my area of expertise, not that such things are impossible. I am given a chance to learn from these little people, just as they learn themselves, that to give up on things one wants isn’t really an option.
My siblings give me the opportunities I need to learn how to take care of the children that, undoubtedly are more important than themselves. They have always known me as their blind sister second, and simply their sister first. I am Auntie Kerry to their children. I hope to give my niece and nephews things in life, to demonstrate to them important lessons of value that other children might not receive, about perseverance. The outlook that it is possible to triumph against anything that might be standing in their way. That there is more to people than at first glance, to be discovered if only one gives it a chance.
As my nephew grew, he became a little boy with his own voice and his own personality. I wanted him to know me, to see me often enough that I am one of those people he can always count on seeing, to be there for him. For young children, familiarity is key. I intended, from the beginning, to be there always and forever. From the very start I would be someone who was present in his life – all he’s ever known.
All that work it took to get him here with us and we never forget. As he grows and learns, the experience I’ve gained this past year has been invaluable. I have a comfort with children that I’ve never before had. Just as I’ve stumbled and received bumps and bruises along the way, falling and learning how to get right back up again, he’s also received these lessons. I watch and protect him as if he’s my own, my sister’s most prized gift. I would give my life for that kid and I like to think we’re buddies. He looks at me as a playmate and a pal, someone he can count on, and I hope he always will.
When he grabs a hold of my fingers and we walk…when he laughs out loud at something I do – I store those moments away in my mind and heart. I am blown away by the miracles of modern medicine and what it can get us. It’s amazing where we started out and how far science has come. Those long gone from our lives, ones we’ve loved, would be amazed at what has taken place and the sweet child we now love. He’s here with us and I hold him close and feel him breathe when he is sleeping in my arms. I thank the nurses, doctors, and technicians for their dedication to achieving this most precious outcome. His tiny fingers in mine – that is perfect happiness to me. The sound of his voice and his giggle is the sweetest sound and purity personified.
As we come full circle and he is taking his first steps, we eagerly await with anticipation the new words he begins to speak. I feel sad when I realize he’s growing up before our very eyes and I will miss rocking him to sleep when he is too big to be rocked. Time doesn’t stand still, but it gives me hope for anything – that all is possible, That you just never know what’s around the corner. Something so sweet that was once not here is now a part of our lives and the world is inconceivable any other way. The children in my life are gifts, more precious than gold. I see them not with my eyes, but with everything else in me and with all I have to give them of myself, and always will.
“Where there was weakness I found my strength, all in the eyes of a boy.”
Originally posted within a few weeks of me starting this blog, I had written this essay for a writing competition. I did not win and then I decided to publish it here.
I decided to practice my editing skills and have split it into two parts. The first part I posted just the other day, on my nephew’s birthday.
My nephew, the subject of this essay, turned three years old this week. It’s incredible and unbelievable, all at once. He is growing up so fast.
I have posted the second part on this Throw-Back Thursday, because I want to look back and see how far we’ve come, while I remind myself that the hard times can seem like they will never end. I know better times and things are possible.
If only the world could remain as simple and sweet as it was when this game was all there was to having fun in life.
It may be a stretch. The point of stream of consciousness is to just write, right? My thoughts do have a common thread running throughout, but you probably need to be inside my head to follow it straight through.
You can try anyway. I will understand if I lose you somewhere along the way.
I’ve had a lot of time, as this summer has gone on, to think about what I’m ready for.
SoCS being “ready”. I immediately thought of Colorblind.
“I am ready. I am ready. I am ready. I am…”
That caused me to think of the line from the Counting Crows song that I first heard in a movie, an important movie from my teenage years.
It was a fairly racy movie, for the fifteen-year-old that I was at the time. It was my American Pie.
American Pie: I did not get the hype. I never did like pie.
This particular movie, with Counting Crows on its soundtrack, I saw in the theatre two times. It was an important part of my sixteenth birthday celebration with friends.
It was about playing games, but they weren’t the kind of games of my childhood. No hide and seek. That’s for sure.
I saw that love often equaled playing games, seemingly the grownup thing to do, but I never really believed that was the right thing.
I knew nothing about love then and would hardly know, for ten years more. What I was learning about love, at age sixteen, I wished I never learned.
Now, whenever I hear this particular Counting Crows song I think of the sweetest, most romantic part of that film and what I was ready for then and what I’m ready for now.
I think of the moments when Colorblind came on, where I was at with love really. The raw emotion that comes from the song and from those moments in my own life make me try harder to leave the emotions and the memories of who I was in the past behind me.
As I learn what dating feels like again and what love has the potential to feel like in the future, I look back on the childhood, free of harsh realities, my teen years and the newness of every emotion, and the risks I’ve taken in love as an adult.
I can always associate a song with anything any prompt might bring up in me, sometimes more than one. It’s all intertwined: music, writing, and love.
But bring back the days of hiding behind some boxes in my parent’s basement, in our back cellar or in a corner, under a pile of clothes in their bedroom.
These days are long gone. Life having refused to stand still since playing this childhood favourite with siblings or friends.
“One…two…three…four…five…six…seven…eight…nine…ten…ready or not, hear I come!!!”
These scattered ramblings are what came to mind for this week’s prompt from Linda:
On the Eve of my country’s birthday I listened to the words of a young man who spoke the truth of the experience he has had, growing up in Canada – an experience totally different from my own.
He had a turbulent childhood and youth, to put it mildly; whereas, I had stability, support, and safety.
He faced violence and gangs; whereas, I faced a disability and illness.
We are both around the same age and are Canadian, but is that all we have in common?
I don’t know very much at all about this particular guy’s culture or customs, but this video moved me and made me want to bridge that gap.
He spoke of breaking cycles and chains of abuse and neglect in his family and community, but he spoke of all these things with humour and humility.
Twenty-four hours later I stood with my own family, on my own front lawn, for a spectacular fireworks show. The lights and the bangs were all around us. I thought about the celebration we put on, to celebrate Canada, and what that really means.
I believe it’s fair to say that when the rest of the world thinks of Canada, they think polite, friendly, warm.
We live in a cold climate. We are passive. We are where the Underground Railroad ended up and where deserters fled to in protest of the Vietnam War.
We are the safe place and the non-judgmental refuge from danger and persecution, right?
Well, not always.
Are these truth or myth or a bit of both?
History books might tell a different story. If they don’t, they should and they haven’t, not nearly enough, but we shall see what history says about the time we’re now living in over the generations to come.
Canada turns 148 this year and our flag is celebrating its 50th birthday.
Last year I spoke of the ten things I love about my country, in a post I titled:
This year I thought I would change directions because I can’t only highlight the things that make Canada great, without speaking up on others that are just as important, even if they aren’t quite so pleasant to think or to talk about.
None of what I have to say today means I love this country any less. It is beautiful and splendid. I love my home, but that is precisely why I believe it is necessary to bring attention to what’s been in the news and on the minds of many Canadians, including myself.
My heart has been heavy recently, as I’ve listened to the media speak about something known as The Truth and Reconciliation Commission or TRC.
At times such as Canada Day and the recent anniversary of our first prime minister’s birth, we celebrate the man and his accomplishments. It’s known as a sign of respect for the history and the leader that he was.
These were McDonald’s words. I don’t feel quite as up to celebrating him when I let it sink in that this was his plan for a population of the country he considered a problem, an issue to be dealt with, a plan being decided on.
Possibly more than 150,000 Aboriginal children (First Nations, Inuit, and Metis) were torn away from their families and placed in residential schools. This was a way to remove most traces of their culture and make them conform to what the churches believed a child in Canada should be.
It’s being termed “Cultural Genocide”.
Of course, on automatically hearing the word genocide, the first thing that springs to mind is the Holocaust or Rwanda, 1994.
You put the word “Cultural” in front of it, of course, to slightly shift the meaning and lighten it just a bit..
An entire minority in society, considered undesirable, was not murdered, but here in Canada, for more than 100 years, a culture was destroyed, or at least a pretty damn good effort was made.
These schools were harsh and cold places. In any place like this, there are those who take advantage of their positions of authority and much sexual, physical, and psychological and emotional abuse was perpetrated on a highly vulnerable population of innocent children.
I find the common thread, which I believe every person should do, when relating to the troubles of others.
In this case, I admit I feel very strongly about the effect segregation can have. I don’t know how closely it can be compared, but for hundreds of years, children with disabilities such as blindness and deafness have been sent away, removed from their families and most of the rest of society and placed in residential schools.
Of course, there are boarding schools all over the world, and sometimes this can be a part of a successful education, but I don’t believe it is a healthy thing to send a child away from their home. In the case of a child with a disability, it seemed like the answer. If you get a bunch of children with disabilities of the same sort in one educational facility, you can then teach them all and help the students get the special support they all require.
This, however, hides them away from the rest of the world. For so long, the rest of society did not want to see these children and it made sense to keep them separate. This touches a particular nerve. I was never sent to one of these schools and I have always been grateful for that. I don’t believe segregation is the answer to anything.
I am continuously baffled by the history of the white man coming in and taking over land, territory, and whole continents from Native people.
Aboriginal, original people who inhabited the North American continent, and all the nasty things that would take place back and forth.
History class was interesting enough to me in school, but I don’t know much about treaties and rulings. I tried to educate myself on the past. Now we have arrived in 2015 and the commission is being discussed everywhere.
I hesitated because, as I say, I wasn’t sure today was the day to talk about this. Then, I worried I knew very little and do not wish to offend, but this is such a divisive subject anyway.
I’ve heard from those who suffered and from educators and scholars.
Should there be more separation and division?
Reserves. Cycles of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. A chain of poverty, drugs and alcohol.
This has existed. Something unhealthy has been allowed to continue and of which was allowed to persist because of the silences surrounding such horrifying things.
I would like to see less segregation. With the closing of the schools, I would like to think we could all share the beautiful place that is this country.
Is this reasonable, practical, or even possible?
Is it enough to say you’re sorry? Should there be forgiveness? Is that enough?
I recently came across a blog post, written by Canadian writer and blogger Carrie Snyder:
What she wrote moved me into wanting to write my thoughts down, to try to speak up. That is because the silence needs to end.
Whatever any of us think, wherever we come down on our country’s role, at least we’re talking now. I don’t have to be so afraid to speak about this because I care and want to understand.
I want others, who may not be aware of what happened in my country, to hear about these things from one whom a more inclusive future in her country is hoped for.
I know what it must feel like to be a part of a population society has historically preferred be hidden away from everyone else. It’s a feeling of being unwanted and ashamed of.
The last residential school for Aboriginals was closed, more recently than most people might think. The year 1996 is not all that long ago still.
We can shy away from hearing about such troublesome things, or remain unaware as I was until recently, or we can all become aware and work toward something better.
Canada is not this safe, timid, perfect little country we’ve been portrayed as in the media. We are not the goodie-two-shoes little neighbour to the north of the United States.
We made our share of mistakes or more than that word can ever say.
I want us all to be fully Canadian, while still holding onto those parts of our unique cultures and histories that make us who we are and always have been.
I would like to think that young man I first spoke of and I can and are both doing our parts to make a future country of Canada as great a country as we claim to be and have always been.
I know, from listening to him speak, that is what we both can and will do. That is what we have in common. I love my country and he loves his. I want it to go forward, having every reason in the world for every one of its citizens to be proud of the Canada we are, the best Canada we can possibly be.
I know the story of Anne Frank and her diary. I just recently had a chance to focus on the stories of the other people trapped with her, because they too had separate stories of their own.
Anne was a typical teenager, despite the chaos going on all around her. She did not get along with her mother, was jealous of her sister’s supposed perfection, and referred to the man she had to share a room with in the Annex as an idiot and a dolt.
This was only her side of the story.
Anne’s mother loved her two children, worried sick about them, and only wanted them to be safe.
Margot may have been more reserved and quiet than her rambunctious younger sister, but she had dreams of becoming a nurse and helping children after the war.
The man Anne was referring to had a life outside the Annex. He had a woman who loved him and whom he loved, a child, and had no family to lean on during all that time in hiding.
Anne loved her father above all others. She even had a special nickname for him and everything. She sometimes felt he sided with her mother against her, but she rarely, if ever said one bad thing about him. He was her hero.
Otto Frank was left to face the future, post war, without any one of his family left alive. He had to face the fact that his two daughters and his wife were never coming back to him and he had to figure out a way to go on without them.
He, with the help of friend Miep Gies, decided that his little girl’s story needed to be told.
I am here to make sure her story goes on being heard, but that the others affected and ultimately lost have their stories known too.
Then there’s some history of my own country and hopefully a better future. I must admit that I don’t know much about Aboriginal stories. These are people living in my own country and I know very little about their history, their heritage, and their stories.
I learned some in school, yes, but not nearly enough. I feel separate and cut off, I will say.
I am doing some research, for an upcoming Canada Day post, and I don’t like what I hear.
The facts about the residential schools must be told. It’s not just one story though, but a multitude of stories. I think it’s about time Canada heard these stories.
And then there’s the terrible shooting in Charleston, South Carolina that took place.
A twenty-one-year-old walked into an historic African-American church, sat down to join a prayer group in session, and eventually opened fire, killing nine innocent people.
I know a lot of people will be writing about this for 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion.
I know very little about it, even though it has been all over the news for days now:
I honestly feel numb. My brother and I both agreed on that lack of emotion.
This doesn’t mean I feel any less horrible. I just don’t know what is left to say.
I could rant about my feelings on gun control and a pervasive gun culture. I could speak about a country that is filled with stories, including those of the poor victims and their families and yes, even the shooter.
Well, I still don’t know where to start, so I will focus on the big picture.
“That ain’t the picture. It’s just a part. Everybody’s got a story that could break your heart.”
Yes, thank you Amanda.
It’s funny how life works sometimes.
I was planning this #1000Speak post about everybody’s stories, when a friend brought my attention to a TED video.
Now, I love these and I’d actually listened to this particular speaker before, but I thank my friend still. I admire her and her spirit and for thinking of me.
they are both strong and intelligent women, full of passion and compassion. Both their stories make them who they are.
“Patronizing, well-meaning pity.”
The above TED speaker sums it up nicely, exactly what happens when we jump to conclusions about people, without first looking at who they truly are, in all their glory and depth. Is the story we’ve been told about something really the right story?
I too have a story:
**It’s made up of the wonderful family I have and the happy childhood I experienced.
**It’s made up of the challenging and character-building experiences living with blindness all my life instills in me.
**It’s made up of the additional medical issues I’ve had and the barriers that were put in my path as a result.
A balance of stories.”
I know we all have our perceptions and our realities. We all make our minds up, when we hear someone’s story.
People meet me, see that I am blind, and right away they may think they can paint a picture of what my story must look like.
Chimamanda says it best: stereotypes are not untrue, but incomplete….
Stereotypes about blindness are deeply ingrained in people’s consciousness. I have felt pity and longed for more, for compassion, understanding, and connection in pity’s place.
I don’t know enough about all those who lived and died in war, those I share Canada with, the victims and perpetrators of gun violence, or what life’s really like on the African continent.
I say I have become numb to tragedy and senseless violence, but I realize that is not at all what I want for myself, or for any of us.
“Stories matter. Many stories matter.”
I want to be passionate and compassionate. I listen to passionate speakers like this and I want to be passionate about things like literature, writing, and social issues.
I want to tell my story and to tell the stories of many other people. That is why I love this blog and I love writing. I can tell stories, not one single story, but every story I can possibly tell.
Adichie says about stories: they can empower and humanize. Break or repair that broken dignity.
On Today’s Travel Tuesday I am featured on a wonderful travel blog, by a lovely Australian woman who hasn’t let her lack of sight get in the way of her vision for a unique travel website.
On Touching Landscapes can be found many interesting and varied articles, posts, and stories. Every one of these comes from the point-of-view of visually impaired travellers and their sighted guides, partners, and family members.
This particular story of mine takes place exactly one year ago. The special meaning of this particular experiment and experience will always stay with me. It took place in one of my favourite spots in the world and so close to me and such a part of my childhood and connection to my country.
Note: I change a name in this story. I like to watch what I do when writing memoir, but this story is a true one in every other way and I will never forget.
Of course I do not change Helen Keller’s name in the above story. She is a big influence in my life and I was glad to check off this Bucket List item, even if it was based somewhat off of a fun experiment and couldn’t possibly be duplicated to match what she must have felt and experienced all those years ago.
I hope to have many more adventures in Niagara Falls in the future (starting with the weekend family trip next month). I am really looking forward to this, to show off my favourite place to my young niece and nephews, so that perhaps they will come to love it themselves, one day, like I do.
A lot has been going through my mind lately with my hopes for my own travel blog and travel writing in time too. I have taken a few small steps to make that dream a reality and I won’t stop now.
The trip last year was one of two trips to Niagara which will go down in my list of most memorable visits to Niagara Falls. Writing this, for a fantastic blog as