table for one. a finale.

Thanks to my friends for attending the table for one. CD release “event” on February 20, 2017. It’s been a long time coming and I’m glad to share the music that I have created with everyone. Special thanks to Shannon Munn for opening Cannon Coffee Co. especially for the event and also to Douglas Steckle for shepherding me to and from the event and helping out. Both of you are amazing!

Thanks also to Cindy Schnaithmann for making the Cannon work as a venue and making the arranging of it so easy, despite the construction the cafe is undergoing this week!

As I came down from last night’s performance, I reflected on the journey that has been the table for one. experience.

Life is a constant evolution. table for one. documents a 7 year period in life where I dealt with my husband’s cancer, his transplant surgery, and then his death, followed by my father’s death one year later and the ensuing nervous break down…the past three years have been of reflection, healing and moving forward…and the songs in the table for one. cycle reflect that.

I realized after performing certain songs that I can no longer go back into the particular headspace and “heartspace” that they represent any further. While they are my creations and I’m proud of them in their own right, sometimes they need to be set free and exist on their own…as a marker of a particular moment in time.

being human. is one such song as is patient. Both have had their chance to be shared and the emotions therein expressed but my heart, mind and spirit are just not in them any more.

I’m happy that these songs can still resonate with people and that they will listen to them and gain strength and whatever joy they from them, however they are not for me any further. These compositions and recording belong to the world at this point. I will protect and guard them, however I will not revisit them as a performer.

I’ve also been able to use the table for one. experience to reflect on the writing for a CD, recording it and releasing it as a single project/object and realized that at this point in my career, it is not a sound artistic and financial prospect.

You may have noticed my Patreon page being mentioned earlier last week. This represents the next step in my career and musician and will focus on the release of musical items as they are created. We shall chat about this at a later date.

That being said, I still have a small stock of CDs left, so if you’d like one, please let me know and we’ll work it out!

Thanks for your continued support and patience!

table for one. in conclusion

As the final chapter of the birth table for one. draws to a conclusion, I’m reflecting on how different my life is from the first attempts at writing sitting in The Brain on that fateful Art Crawl night after Larry’s diagnosis.

Seven years.  Seven.  Fucking.  Years.  Four surgeries.  Three deaths.  One nervous breakdown.  Five days of recording.  One album.  One life.

I’m far less angry.  I’m far less scared.  I’m far less impatient.  I’m far less tolerant of negativity.

Throughout all of this change, I have been re-evaluating my life and what it means to be me.  An old acquaintance used to say “Simplify and do everything.” as a joke, however this saying has summed up the past three years of my life.  As I jettison the trappings and detritus I have had surrounding me, the resulting physical, mental and emotional space is allowing me to focus more on things that are important to me.

As my life becomes simpler, I’m able to focus on more.  I’m also making important choices that have impacted on my happiness and health in a positive manner.

Seven years ago, I was close to four hundred pounds, having replaced my chemical addictions with food to medicate my unhappiness.  Seven years ago, I was so focused on my career that both my health and chosen form of expression (music) languished and suffered.  I was in my thirties with sleep apnea, high blood pressure, failing knees and ankles and pre-diabetic.

I thought I was happy, but truly the one light in my life was diagnosed with cancer and we focused on fighting the battle for his life.  Fast forward to now and I’ve survived the loss of my husband, my father, a beloved animal companion, been through a year of treatment for PTSD and anxiety, continue to battle my weight, keeping it down to a healthy level.

I am now hovering around two hundred pounds, eating a clean diet, drug and alcohol free almost thirteen years, breathing easily and most of my other health issues have resolved.

I am also writing further music that reflects a need to carry on, to learn and grow, as well as collaborating with other songwriters and music makers…my catharsis is complete – time to remove my life from suspended animation and continue moving forward.

Simplify and do everything indeed.

 

on passing me by.

passing me by. was written November 2009 on Art Crawl night, while sitting at The Brain on James St. N. in Hamilton, Ontario.

the air grows chill and the days grow short,
the twilight hours are beckoning.
the animals have departed, nature’s slumber begins;
winter is the time of our reckoning.

As it was early November, the nights were growing longer and the days were growing cooler.  I was quietly watching the Art Crawl crowd, drinking my pot of coffee (The Brain serves their coffee in a 4 cup Bodum).

another year is gone –
life keeps moving on.
this year has come to an end;
time no more is a friend.

At this time, Larry’s liver cancer had progressed to the point where he was barely functioning due to the hepatic encephalopathies – essentially his liver was no longer functioning and the ammonia building up in his body was poisoning his brain.

The medication to treat hepatic encephalopathy in end stage liver failure is lactulose – a strong laxative that forces the body to purge.

I was trying to balance his ability to function cognitively with his ability to go about activities without shitting himself.

daylight fades, the sun grows wan;
the night becomes increasingly longer.
the land grows barren, fading out to white;
winter’s grasp grows stronger.

It’s pretty clear that I was beginning to feel the effects of 22 years of denial and anguish and my struggles with faith, my sexuality and my distaste for organized religion.  At the time a good friend had resurfaced in my life, now a Presbyterian Minister, and in the pulpit at the church around the corner from my house.

I’ve written about this person in the past and won’t rehash his betrayals in my life.  I love this person dearly and wish him the best but don’t have room for people who cannot set their egos aside and act in accordance with their faith.

another year is gone –
life keeps moving on.
this year has come to an end;
time no more is a friend.

my hair’s grown grey, my eyesight blurred;
my life spent setting the stage.
my body weakens, my soul grown weary
as i struggle into middle age.

Between drama in the workplace, Larry’s failing health and yes my failing health (I was topping 350 lbs by this time), I was feeling run down and tired pretty near all the time.  I was physically and emotionally spent.  The greying of my hair was progressing quicker and I was eating my stress and feelings by this time, having exchanged my alcohol and drug dependence for Doritos and diet cola.

another year is gone –
my life keeps moving on.
my year has come to an end;
time no more is my friend.

This song was the last thing I had written before Larry had his liver transplant.  It sums up my state of mind and the bleakness I felt at the time.  It’s also a good general “dull grey day” kind of song too…

spring cleaning

My last blog posting has stirred a lot of conversation.  The cauldron is bubbling and it’s time we examine how we behave in the Hamilton Community.

It isn’t just a single group of people -there have been some other people targeted in the Hamilton community – and YES I’ve confronted the perpetrators when it was My husband and I with the targets on our backs.

As for the local groups – unfortunately the actions of a vocal few can reflect poorly on the silent majority…and too many people – particularly those in the LGBTQ community – have been burned.

I wish I could say my past experiences with the local community were positive, but I don’t attend the moots for a reason and it takes something big to get me out to Pagan Pride Day.  It took years for me to heal enough to want to come back out to PPD last year.  It also took a HELL of a lot of convincing by several people whom I trust and said that things have changed – it’s gotten better.

My work in the Lothloriën tradition has helped me gain some strength and focus to deal with the shenanigans, so I felt somewhat prepared.

Yet at the same time the same people are pulling the same tricks and getting away with it – those who stand up to these people are often ostracized or shunned by the community.  I get that it’s a small community and somewhat close knit…however bullies are bullies.

My husband and I got tired of the infighting, gossip and petty turf wars; disbanded the coven and practiced solitary for years before he passed – he got accredited as a chaplain and focused on Hospital and Prison work during this time.

Sorry folks but it happens – I’ve seen it time and time again in the 20 years I’ve been active in the Hamilton pagan community.

And since my last posting, I’ve found out I’m not the only one.  I’m hoping my blog stirs conversation in the community and forces everyone to take a good hard look at what’s been going on.

None of us are served when we simply sweep history under the carpet.  In order to move forward properly we must admit to past wrongs and embrace a future dedicated to undoing the damage of this past.  This is done by actively working together as a community.

While some seem to prefer the “leave the past in the past” approach, this clearly has not worked.

Time to clean out from under the rug.

the phone call and aftermath

On the evening of August 9, 2013 I didn’t sleep at all. Sunny had completely collapsed onto the bed, exhausted and Chloe fussed about between him and I, not knowing who needed more comfort.

I lay awake in bed and read until 11:30 pm. Then I lay awake in the dark.

At 12:09 am, the radio on Larry’s side of the bed came on, loudly.

At 12:14 am, the phone on my side of the bed rang. I answered the phone call that permanently changed my life forever.

“Hi, it’s the nurse. I just checked on Larry and he is gone. I’ve called the doctor and figured you want to spend time with him.”

I hung up the phone and got out of bed, called the taxi company and got dressed. I let the dogs out for a bio break and grabbed a duffel bag. From my cell phone I called Larry’s ex wife and my parents.

I sat in the cab, numb, and wept quietly, wondering about my future. Thankfully the driver seemed to understand why I was in a rush to get to the hospital at that time of night and kept the chatter to a minimum. I suppose my eyes were red and puffy by that time and it was obvious that I was upset and not willing to speak.

Larry’s room was empty, the light over his bed was on. I went in and his body looked so peaceful and quiet. Not in any pain.

Sadly my pain was continuing.

I sat quietly for a while until the nurse came in to check on me and confirm that the doctor was coming to pronounce him dead. I began to gather his personal effects:
– slippers
– glasses
– pentacle
– the final Sookie Stackhouse book, which I read to him while he convalesced so he knew how the saga ended (because of this, I can’t watch True Blood any more – the ending was a disappointment and I have too many unhappy memories now)
– the flowers that Bekah and her boys gave Larry
– the gift that Larry gave his daughter on his deathbed, but she left (still super pissed about this – I finally gave up on trying to give it to her in April and donated it to someone who would use it)

As I finished up, I took the final picture of our hands together one last time. And then the doctor came, I introduced myself, thanked the doctor for doing this task and called Leslie and Jeff to pick me up. I needed folks who could help my spirit and they have and remain there as I work things out.

I came home to an empty house with an empty heart and sat on the couch with Sunny and Chloe for a few hours, finally posting the announcement. I went to bed out of exhaustion, unable to cry any more.

That morning, I got up at my normal time. Did my morning ritual and went out to the farmer’s market to have my morning coffee at “Cafe Gay.” Ironically, I had a funeral to sing at that morning.

Chris Godwaldt, having read the news hugged me and asked me “What are you doing here today?”

My reply was I had no where else to be. This was the truth, I no longer had to be at the hospital daily and quite honestly, home felt really empty at this point.

I sat quietly, having coffee with friends, until it was time for the funeral. I sang dutifully at the funeral, no one in the choir having suspected what I was going through, and found a great amount of satisfaction in allowing myself to grieve while helping others grieve.

I had arranged to meet my parents at Cannon Coffee Co after church, where I sat in the window seat and just was there, quiet and peaceful. My parents joined me for lunch and remembrance while various folks who saw me sitting there popped their heads in to offer their condolences.

I went home and walked the dogs and fell into a fitful and restful sleep for the first time in about a month, despite the uncertainty of my future.

who am i to deny a dying man his last wish?

Since being checked into the hospital, Larry was on a rapid decline as far as his condition. His kidneys and pancreas had completely shut down prior to entering his hospital and his lungs were under attack as cancer cells replaced healthy tissue. The main thing that lead to his final decline was his liver had completely shut down.

What happens when one goes into liver failure is the blood is no longer filtered and the body floods with all the toxins that would normally be cleaned. One of the earliest signs of liver failure is confusion and lack of ability to communicate. By this time, the best treatment for liver failure (the laxative lactulose) was no longer working and it was determined to keep him comfortable and take no drastic measures to prolong his suffering.

At this point, all that was left of Larry was instinct and the pain as cancer ravaged his internal organs. As his liver was no longer processing his blood, intravenous pain medication no longer would work, so he was on a regime of three medications administered under his skin in 20 minute intervals: a sedative to relax him, morphine to ease his pain, and a muscle relaxant to prevent him from fighting the catheter and the restraints and prevent further injury. These injections occurred around the clock to prevent his suffering and I thank the doctor and staff of Juravinski Surgical Ward in ensuring that he was well taken care of.

The last coherent conversation with Larry confirmed that he was ready to let go and we asked him to, however he kept saying he was afraid and wanted to say goodbye one last time. When asked who he wanted to say goodbye, he could never explain fully. However I suspected who it was.

As I left the hospital to take care of the dogs, I ran into the palliative care doctor and he said the first words he said to me since he told me “seven to ten days.” This isn’t a complaint as the doctor did most of his work through gesture and facial expression – which I found incredibly helpful. There is little that can be said to a dying man and the family who is processing their pain and grief as they watch their loved one fade away. What he asked me was “Is there any more I can do at this time?”

Yes, there was.

During the entire time Larry was in the hospital, I was working with the nurses and social worker in getting permission to bring the dogs in for one last time and I was constantly running into roadblocks, despite bringing in immunization and medical records. Finally I asked the doctor whether it were possible to bring in at least one of the dogs to have one last visit with Larry.

He was with the charge nurse and his flock of interns at this time and his response was quick: “Who am I to deny a dying man his last wish.” He turned to the nurse and confirmed that all staff were to be in a meeting with him at 7pm that evening and turned to me and said, what happens between 7:00 and 7:30 that evening was up to me. Point taken.

I swallowed the lump in my throat and rushed home to confirm my ride up to the hospital to be there just at 7pm. Thankfully, incredible neighbours Jeff and Michele were on the case and I was able to arrange for a drop off and pick up 30 minutes later. I had purchased a simple carry duffel for Sunny and prepared him to go in it, I put his towel in the bottom of it and he seemed to understand what it was for. I did my chores around the house

At 6:45 Jeff and Michele honked their horns and I convinced Sunny to get in the carry bag, while keeping the zipper opened so he could see. Sunny knew that something big was up and he actually settled down and relaxed. When we got to the hospital, I tucked Sunny’s head in the case and proceded to lug this bag with 16 lbs of Sunny over my shoulder, trying to be as low key as possible as we walked to the elevator. We got on the elevator and made our way to Larry’s room, I pulled the curtains tight as I announced myself to Larry.

I said to Larry quietly that I had someone special to see him and he opened his eyes. I put the case on the bed and opened the zipper. Sunny cautiously stuck his head out and Larry’s eyes widened when he saw him. Larry moved his right arm away from his body and Sunny cautiously got out of the bag and sniffed around, carefully creeping up the side of the bed and lying down to rest with his head on Larry’s shoulder and chest.

“Hi Sunny,” Larry moved his left hand across his body and laid it to rest on Sunny’s back. No mean feat as Larry had been non responsive beyond reflexes for over a day at this point. We sat quietly as Larry and Sunny had what was likely to be one final snuggle. I sat in silence watching them together until twenty minutes passed and Sunny began to visibly shake and whimper.

I told Larry that we really needed to go as Sunny was getting nervous and we had to be out of there by 7:30. Larry moved his left hand off Sunny and said “Goodbye Myke. Goodbye Sunny. I love you, thank you” and went back to sleep. I put Sunny back in the bag, zipped it up and kissed my husband goodbye one final time.

Jeff and Michele were at the entrance when we came down and drove us home. I walked Sunny and Chloe as I was too uneasy and didn’t want to be in the house. Finally at 10pm I collapsed in a heap on my bed and went into a troubled rest.

endgame begins.

Since Larry’s birthday, things had been getting worse for him and the home care nurse had been visiting regularly and I’d been trying my best in focusing at work.

It was clear that we were nearing endgame. Larry’s kidneys were gone, he was in acute liver failure and the treatment was becoming less and less effective.

Rev. Moore had visited several times as had my family and friends. I don’t know what was harder to watch, my husband failing and fading away or witnessing the reactions of our loved ones realizing that this was IT. This was the big one.

On July 29, 2013 the lactulose stopped working altogether and Larry was entering acute liver failure. He was unable to walk, unable to answer simple questions and all sense of “him” was slipping away.

I called Avi, the palliative care nurse, to ask what to do and was told that I could either call 911 myself or wait 45 minutes and he could.

I dialled 911 and a good friend and neighbour answered the line “Hi Myke, it’s Larry isn’t it?”

I was in tears and unable to speak but somehow conveyed “yes,” Joe confirmed he would send the paramedics, however the fire department would most likely arrive first.

While I don’t want to disrespect our fire department, Larry did not need their help, he needed to go to the hospital so I held them off with the magic words “end stage liver failure due to hepatitis, needs a transfer to the hospital.”

They retreated immediately and went to get their hazmat gear while the paramedics arrived. I explained the situation and suggested they get the chair as Larry was no longer able to walk, let alone handle stairs and the stretcher would not work.

They did so and as Sunny, Chloe and I quietly watched in shock, they escorted my husband from our home for the past 13 years for the final time. I was beyond tears at this point and just frightened and confused.

The paramedics confirmed that they were taking Larry to Juravinski for cancer care consideration, we had hoped that we may eke out a few more weeks or months in hospice with the right treatment at that point still.

Incredible neighbours Michele and Jeff didn’t hesitate and drove me up to the hospital behind the ambulance. Where I spent a sleepless night by my husband’s side in the ER until they sent me home at Larry’s insistence, exhausted.

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