memento mori. memento vivere.

Five years ago, I was chin deep in arranging a memorial service for my husband.  I was eyeball deep in settling his estate.  I was beginning to crest the lift hill that would eventually drop me into the neck-breaking roller coaster of depression, anxiety and PTSD.

Larry had been dead for almost three weeks and I was beginning to catch glimpses of what my new normal would soon become.  People I know, trusted and loved had begun to circle around me to provide protection and support, my once shattered faith had begun reassemble itself in a new form.

Five years later, I still struggle with my anxiety.  I still am surprised at what my new normal brings to me.  I still, albeit rarely, feel the incredible loss, loneliness, sorrow and rage that only widow(er)s can understand.

What I don’t feel is the crushing apathy and sadness of depression, I no longer feel the overwhelming need to fight, freeze or run reactions of PTSD, nor does my brain shut down and go into “automaton mode” as I am better equipped to endure and mitigate my flashbacks.

In the past month I gave copies of table for one. to a number of people who have been instrumental in reconnecting me with things that I loved, which once were integral to who I am.   They all commented on how dark, painful and scary it is to listen to.  I finally revisited listening to it last week and I agree.  And I am happy with that conclusion.

table for one. is meant to be dark, it’s meant to be painful, it’s meant to be sad, it’s meant to be scary!

It’s as honest a document of my life from 2007 to 2016.  The songs distill what living inside my mind and heart was like during that time period.

It’s a diary.

It’s a confessional.

It’s a farewell to the scared little gay boy who was raped by the man who led his confirmation class.

It’s a solid “fuck you” to the minister who protected that man, not to mention all the Christians who hide behind their cherry-picked scriptures to justify their personal prejudices.

It’s a thank you to Larry and my Dad for helping put me back together.

It’s a road map pointing me to the great unknown that my future has presented to me.

It’s a eulogy to the confused, depressed and angry man that Myke Hutchings once was.

By the way – CD copies of table for one. are running low, I’m unsure if I’ll reprint it ever, so if you want one, please let me know soon!

memento mori.  I’m moving on.

This past year has been both frustrating and affirming to me.

Frustrating in that just about everything that I had set in motion to begin building towards my future pretty much fell flat and fizzled out.

Old Myke would have lost his shit over this, however I know there is little I can do, but roll with the punches, dust myself off and assess the situation, taking the next logical step before me.

What has been affirming is that the next logical steps have taken me in new and delightful ways.  Particularly when it comes to revisiting things that once defined me that I had let go when the excrement hit the ventilation with Larry’s health, Dad’s health and then my mental health.

Santa re-entered my life in a kind and gentle way.  Several of Santa’s helpers have connected with me through Larry’s legacy, through mutual friends and through my openness with who I am.  They have reconnected me with Santa’s service through love and the need to give back (thank you Santa Michael M and Santa Glenn J) and Santa’s magic (thank you Santa Stephen and Santa Leon).  These men re-connected me with the joy and love that the spirit of Santa represents and I hope to continue my work as an elf somehow with the support of these men.

Clowning re-entered my life, once again in a kind and gentle way.  A video of two hospital clowns singing a simple lullaby to an infant in the hospital gently rekindled the flame of using simple humor and childlike wonder to help heal or at least sweeten the bitter medicine of life.  I was then asked by Lee Andrews to be a staff member at American Clown Academy where I met the hospital clowns in question (thanks Tim and Ron) and reconnected with friends and mentors, some of whom I haven’t seen since before cancer forcibly entered my life.  (Santa Leon, Bubba, Kitty and Tom in particular)  Rocky is still in permanent retirement, however I suspect folks will be seeing more of Phineus in the coming years…he has a lot to say and laughter to share.

Music has been a constant, however it’s been focused on excising the negativity and anger out of my life that became table for one. and, to a lesser extent, Foundation.  This past year, after a conversation with Drake Jensen about touring in Canada, a new song – City Motel – was written.  It’s lighter and a little more triumphant than my recent output and seems to be reflective of who I am now, once defeated and lost but coming home.  I’ve gotten good feedback on this song and a few others that I’m workshopping and hope to hit the studio soon.

Time spent with David Bartlett and the Pick-Fil-A Wednesday night jammers at Northgate Mall in Durham, NC reconnected me with the guitar as my voice.  Talking to Santa Stephen, reconnected me with the guitar as a tool with which to communicate.

I suspect it will be a good long time before I record a full album or EP, however I foresee songs being recorded and released as they are written.  With fun little covers in between.

I’m still visited by my old demon, anxiety.  I’m still visited by the unwanted house guest loneliness.  However I’m not so desperate to find someone to fill my life.  I understand now that if it is meant to be, the person will make themselves known to me and things will happen in due course.

I haven’t stopped making plans.  I just set goals and give myself a framework in which they can happen and a rough time period in which I’d like them to occur.  I’m flexible if life throws me a roadblock or wrench into the works and things aren’t so structured that a slight change or variation would do harm.  Life is random.

memento vivere.

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five years later.

Dear Larry,

Five years after your passing and I’ve been approaching this year with cautious optimism.

Optimistic because things aren’t so “acutely painful” feeling.  Cautious because I know my heart and mind can be rat bastards when it comes to surprising me with unanticipated overwhelming levels of emotions.

This year marks my 5th year of being a widower and things aren’t much different than the past four years, other than I’m a little more grounded and in a better frame of mind and heart.

While I have a lot to feel accomplished and proud about, I still often feel I’m no further ahead than before.  I suspect this feeling of “Yeah but…what’s next?” will be continually present in my life for quite some time…but who knows?

I still remain quite resolutely single.  There are special people in my life, however none of them have become someone to share my life with at this moment.  I know and feel love, but nothing even remotely close to what we had.  I’m content with that for the moment – despite the occasional pangs of loneliness, Chloe and I are doing okay, facing the world together.

Chloe is doing well, she continues to take good care of me and continues to know instinctively when I need a little extra cuddle or quiet time.  Her seizures have diminished and only happen when things are really hot and she’s stressed out.

Mom’s doing okay, she’s coping with some knee issues, however she’s otherwise doing all right…despite the odd crowbar being thrown into plans.  Stephen, Dana and the girls are doing well – you’d be so proud of Hannah, she started at York University in September.  Lauren is finishing high school and is often busy working at the store in Grand Valley.

I finally gifted the last “Jimmy” suit to Michael Morin as he was definitely ready to take the next step as a Santa.  I suspect that Santa will be in my life in some form or another for quite some time.

David is still my mentor, psychologist and “second dad” – I got to see him in person in March, as well as in regular contact to keep each other sane and laughing.  I’m going to be visiting with him, Santa Stephen, Santa Leon and a few others next week and am looking forward to that.  Doug, Dana and Mara are still amazing friends who keep me grounded and remind me that there will ALWAYS someone there “in case of emergency.”

Rev. Doug has become a great friend since you died.  His no-nonsense demeanour and solid grounding in faith is an anchor for me…you’d be so happy that Rev. Beyerl has continued with me under his wing to ensure my studies that started with you have continued…I am blessed to be able to walk the fine line between Pagan and Christian.

I still sing at St. Paul’s and my voice has grown stronger over the years.  It has helped me find my voice and strength in other areas of singing and I forever am thankful for Blair to have taken the chance on me as a singer.

I recorded and released the follow up to table for one. and continue to write more songs.  I doubt I’ll release a whole “album” ever again and will be focusing on songs as I write them.

That being said, I’m still a basket case and unsure of what the future brings.  Work, despite continuing along at a steady and pleasant pace, continues to be up in the air and after almost 2 decades there, I am not sure of what I would desire for my future.  It’s very interesting as I know my future path is veering away from that direction but at the moment, I am unsure of where it will lead me.

I’m in a better place this year.  I still miss you and continue to strive to honour your memory.  However for the first time in a very long while, I know I’m ready to move on.  I love you with all my heart and soul, however it’s time for me to take the next step.

With love.

m.