eulogies in the shower


My sanctuary is the shower…I can burn myself with the hottest water, lean against the tiles and do all of the thinking I need to do (usually with the light off which drives my husband bonkers). When I worked as a counsellor I used to say to the mums that were worried about puffy, sobbing eyes that they should focus on doing all their crying in the shower because a) no one could hear you b) if you splashed your face with cold water the bags under your eyes would vanish and c) it  might be the only time you legitimately get to yourself everyday. People loved this idea, I seriously thought I should do a community service announcement it was like I was a beauty consultant and grief counsellor all rolled into one big dash of red hair.

Edenland posted a piece the other week about your funeral song. The song you envisaged that would be played when people came to celebrate your life….now before I explain my idea Id just like to state that I have no wish to harm anyone. Just saying it. You never know whose reading your blog. Do you?

I confess that when Im in the shower some of the thinking I do is about funerals. Not about my funeral but about people that have left a scar on my soul. I think about what would happen if they werent around, how I’d react, if Id sob, or look blank or just silently give a little thanks to the man upstairs. I think about the chic black dress Id wear, with big sunglasses that covered most of my face, hell in some daydreams Im wearing gloves and carrying a little clutch (maybe I get this daydream confused with the one where I am Audrey Hepburn??). The key to my daydream is the eulogy…Im a big one for speeches. I loved talking at my wedding, I made sure I weaved my story around the central figures in my life slowly ending up at my daughter and then my lovely husband sitting in front of me. Anyways…back to the eulogy (which should never be confused with a wedding speech)

I usually craft the speech with some background music, a bit of coldplay ‘fix you’ or Adele ‘someone like you’ and then I begin. I pay particular attention on the purpose of the talk – a way to capture the true essence of the person, the highlights, the lowlights and all the spaces in between. I stay strong, I don’t cry, I keep eye contact with the (imaginery) people in the congregation and I tell the truth because when in your life can you truly tell the truth about someone? When they’re gone you can speak with integrity and honesty and without fear of retribution or anger…

The end of the song, the end of the speech or the end of the hot water usually finishes my daydream…I remembered thinking that this was an odd way to view trauma and upset in your life but in talking to close friends the gentle art of a good meander through your mind (in the safety of your own bathroom) is good for the soul and good for a bit of truth telling – well it is for me…

cracks through to light…

I’d been following Kristian’s blog since I saw that snippet of his life on a big American TV show. I was impressed with his honesty , his integrity and his capacity to put into words what love meant for him.

It was with great sadness that I saw a little post on twitter the other night saying that he had slowly slipped away. I went back to his blog that I had been reading and was really struck by what a fast decline there had been in his condition – only a few short months ago he was talking about his hopes for the future but probably the most difficult post to read was how he was slowly answering his children’s questions. I kept wondering after I saw that little blip on twitter what his boys must be thinking and how they could slowly be sitting with that first layer of sadness hearing that their dad was now gone.

I did some creative writing prompts early on in my blog career (well September). This one played heavily on my mind when I read about answering stuff. It also played on my senses when I thought back to last week and the struggle I had in explaining how unfair life can be to my beautiful girl. I watched her struggle with the rawness of truth, the shitiness of how other people’s behaviours can impact the very core of you and how loss can be exaggerated at different times. Some of the year we happily skip about not noticing what is absent and then at certain times loss knocks at your day and you just cant turn it away. Difficult concepts to explain to little people.

I got an email from a research fellow this morning asking for some thoughts about how young people live with the loss of a missing person and I pointed out that there was so little (well nothing) written about it but that many moons ago when I had sat with some kids I did notice that no one should fear saying “I just don’t know’. It doesn’t provide the answers to any of life’s questions but it does give a response that is honest, respectful of the child’s need to know and the starter of a conversation that might lead to more uncovering of layers as time goes by. It provided an opening line to a very long dialogue.

Parenting in happy and sad times probably teaches me more about life, resilience and moving on than any book I could ever open.

Vale Kristian Anderson