Sunday, January 19, 2014

saying goodbye is never easy...

...and sometimes it's downright painful. I won't lie: this week has been both good and rough, and no matter how well I slept the night before, every night except Saturday night I crashed into bed due to the exhaustion brought on by my grief over Stan's death. Thankfully, there are those things known as email and Facebook--and Mom and I have made good use of both.

Also: every week I try to tell the story of that week as honestly as possible, usually editing only for grammar and clarity. Having said that, this week's post is extremely raw and emotional at times, due to both my commitment to honesty and where I was emotionally when I wrote this post, which I did over the course of four days. You might want to grab some kleenexes before proceeding. You have been warned.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Stan Hart.

Monday: I met with Adrian, and he suggested that I do the project, but not as part of a course. He will meet with me periodically.

I got the reading situation for Carla's classes sorted out. Hello, marathon reading sessions for the rest of the week.

My part of the APC show (Photographs) opened at the Anna Leonowens Gallery and was well-received. It looks awesome.

Tuesday: I had a meeting with Joan after Twentieth-Century Art. Toward the end of the appointment, I told her about Stan's death--and burst into tears. I shared with her some of the things I loved about him--and that I miss. I knew his death had to hit hard at some point. I think it was obvious how much he meant to me.

I spent the rest of the afternoon studying and then made a card for Ruth (Stan's wife). I couldn't write the message for the card without crying--a fact that I put in said message.

Wednesday: I mailed the card and then spent the rest of the day catching up on readings for my courses.

Eventually, I tore myself away from my reading to zip down to the Port Loggia Gallery for the opening of the rest of the APC show. ...and then it was back to reading.

Thursday: Due to staying up a bit too late the night before, I had to fight to stay awake in class that morning (sorry, Jayne).

In between classes I went to St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica (which woke me up--sometimes a good, brisk walk a few hours after the coffee has worked as much magic as it's going to helps--for a few hours, at least). While I'm not Catholic (I'm Eclectic Pagan), I wanted to light a candle for Stan and had felt the urge to do so for a couple of days. I wanted to feel the sense of peace that almost always comes over me when entering a place of worship, regardless of faith. I did some intense googling Wednesday night, and the only church that I found that listed their hours was St. Mary's--and they have a little blurb on the side of one of the pages that says that "visitors are invited to light vigil candles when visiting the church." PERFECT!

After lighting a candle (one of the tea lights--they also had gargantuan votives), I chose a pew at the back (one of the ones with a padded kneeling bench--awesome! I don't think I've ever seen a padded one in a Catholic church before.) and prayed. On my way out, I stopped for a few minutes and watched my candle burn, thinking about Stan and remembering the last time I saw him (this past summer, which was my last time talking with him and the last time I hugged him. Writing that sentence when I started writing this post on Thursday evening triggered a massive, violent sob-attack--there's no other way to describe it. Sometimes the fact that my honorary grandfather, a man I loved dearly, who always had a smile for me and was always a joy to be around, is dead hits me with the force of a semi truck. I miss you, Stan. I miss you. Terribly.) and silently crying. I then got lunch and headed back to class.

Afterward, I continued the readings while listening to the recording of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis that I got for Christmas (this recording). During times like this, there are always at least three things that help me: my faith (whatever it happens to be: I've converted twice already, with an average of ten years between switches), talking about it with friends and music. Specifically music like the Missa Solemnis or the second movement from the Emperor Concerto or the second movement from Beethoven's seventh (notice a theme here? I firmly believe that Beethoven wrote something for every mood, every moment in life, and I often turn to him, in both the good times and the bad.).

If you're curious, here's Stan's obit--with a photo (I completely lost it when I saw the photo). That smile--which I'll never see in real life again. Unfortunately, the site is one of those where you can only read a few articles before it asks you to subscribe. I made a PDF of both his death notice (also posted on that paper's site) and his obit.

Friday: In the wee hours of that morning, I finally put together what I'd been aching for for a couple of days: a playlist of tracks that, when I listen to them, go straight to my soul. In my usual style, I went through iTunes and put everything that sounded like it might be suitable in the playlist. Miraculously, the whole thing fit (though barely) on my 2GB second-generation iPod Nano, along with everything else that I have on there (I had to dump a couple playlists, though). Three hours of peaceful music, some sacred, some secular--everything from the second movement of the Emperor Concerto to Ase's Death to Rachmaninov's Vespers. Done.

That afternoon, I had an appointment with Shawna (the registrar) to tell her what I was up to with regards to the independent study. She asked me how I was, and I told her that there were two parts to the answer: my classes were going well, but a close friend who was like a grandfather to me had died almost a week ago. I couldn't talk about Stan's death without my voice getting shaky. We also sorted a few things out on my audit work sheet.

I spent the rest of the day studying, and when Becky (remember her?) came into the computer lab and asked me how I was, I told her everything--and sobbed in her arms. She's right: I have had a rough year (though I know how to deal with what I'm currently going through, having felt the pain of grief before). One of the security guards who works the 4:00 PM - 12:00 AM shift during the week, Bill, had seen me when I told Jake what was going on, saw that I was really upset and a few minutes before he needed to start making the rounds (one person from that shift of security guards has to go through the entire school in two hours--there are two people and while one sits at the front desk, the other goes through the school) came to see what was up. I told him--and sobbed. He comforted me in his weird, awesome way.

Saturday: I spent the afternoon studying, listening to opera (an archive performance from earlier this season of Eugene Onegin) and, especially at 2:30, thinking of Stan and his wife, Ruth (2:30 was when the funeral was).

That evening, Helen (my old mentor from my last year at NBCCD and a family friend) and I skyped. It made up for the fact that I was unable to go to the funeral (I really wanted to go): we shared stories about Stan and Ruth, I read her the message that I'd written in the sympathy card, I cried... When I'm going through something like this and am able to have a good, long conversation about the person who's died and what I'm going through, I regard it as sacred. And while all the things that I'd done prior to Helen's and my chat helped a little, our chat really helped. We both think of it as our own memorial service.

I am incredibly thankful to everyone who's helped me through this terribly sad time.

That night I finally got caught up on my readings. Whew! Now I'll have more time for other things--including my independent project!

Sunday: When I woke up today, I felt a lot better: I didn't feel so weighted down by grief. I still miss Stan, but it isn't as intense.

I spent the afternoon doing the readings for Twentieth-Century Art and started the readings for this week's Topics in Modern Canadian Art this evening.

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