That Sweet Sudden Grief…

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“Grief can be a burden, but also an anchor. You get used to the weight, how it holds you in place.” 
~ Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

I didn’t expect to be blogging about grief today. But grief snuck up on me last night and broadsided me. This morning I can still taste its bitter-sweetness.

It’s been weeks since I’ve thought of a girlfriend of mine. We’d been close since childhood. Kate was a performer, an artist, a free spirit. My dearest friend. She died suddenly, after an accident, back in 2010.

I’d thought that particular wound was healing over nicely. Mostly my memories have been happy ones lately, and the sting of her passing had faded to a dull ache.

And then last night a song ripped off the scab, and the wound was as fresh and raw as it ever was.  Music.  It’s always my undoing. It’s always my salvation.

I chanced to hear a late night song on the radio and suddenly we were young girls again in the 80’s, me and Kate, running amok in late-night Brisbane Streets, living in the craziness of share houses, experiencing all the pains and joys and revelations of growing up and growing older. Last night Hunters and Collectors ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ took me right back to a life I’m so far from now – squeezed up against the thumping speakers at a live performance at the Mansfield Tavern – Kate and I singing along to every word of this song with Mark Seymour as if it were our personal anthem.

We tumbled out of the pub afterwards, laughing because our ears were ringing so loud we couldn’t hear each other at all.  Kate yelled at me “I so want to shag him”, her eyes bright with excitement and life, just as their van drove slowly past, windows down in the summertime heat.  They tooted their horn in acknowledgement as they drove off and we almost died laughing.

I miss my friend. Sometimes I miss her so much it’s a visceral thing.

Is this what love is then? A healing and a hurting, and a healing and a hurting, over and over until your heart is all scarred up?

That’s okay, if that is how this process works.  I’d rather a scar that I can feel than an empty place where the rain gets in and the wind blows cold.

One simple song and I was in a time machine, going back twenty years to a place as fresh and real for me as if it were just yesterday. Does music have the power to do that for you, too?

The night of Kate’s untimely death two years ago, another friend sent me a link to a song, Johnny Cash covering Nine Inch Nail’s Hurt . What a gift. That song expressed for me all that I felt and couldn’t speak; Kate’s pain, my loss, my utter hopelessness and despair at having someone precious snatched away just as things were finally working out for them after a lifetime of disaster.

Music got me through.  And it’s still my bridge to her. That’s a good thing. Something for which I’m forever grateful.

So this morning I’m raw, and full of feeling, life and love. This morning I’m giving thanks for all the musicians, artists, writers, risk takers and untamed spirits who make this planet richer with their art, and who express for us what’s in our hearts, in ways more eloquent than we alone might say.

Mr Cash, Kate Prentice, I honour you…

And Kitkat, this last song’s for you – cos I know how much you loved it. Every time I hear it, it makes me smile (AND think of the time Queensland won the Sheffield Shield!).  Love you, my friend ♥ xx

18 thoughts on “That Sweet Sudden Grief…

  1. Nicole, I feel your pain, truly. I’d say I’m sorry but isn’t is wonderful to have loved someone so much that a song can just open you up after years? So, I’m happy you had that and sure it was reciprocated. I hope tomorrow brings only smiles. xx

  2. How interesting for me to click on your blog and read about grief. Just this morning, in my quiet time, I was writing about grief. I experienced some heavy wounding last year and the first 3 months of this year. I stayed with the sadness and pain and thought it was healed. But every once in a while someone will say something or I will have a memory and the wound is re-opened. This morning I cried from deep in my gut as I felt the pain resurfacing again. Does the scab ever get so thick that the wound can no longer be ripped open? I don’t know. All I do know is I have to be present to it when it surfaces.
    Thank you for sharing your truth with us. Hugs, Brenda

  3. Yes music and art cut through space and time. Transport you to amazing and painful places. Keep on feeling big time, it’s the flow of life. Sending much love. Sx

  4. Hugs of Love to U…how blessed were you to have this experience with Kate..Mansfield Tavern…now this made me smile. Music is such a healer in so many ways..and sometimes I am overwhelmed at the emotion that surfaces. JC is awesome in this rendition of ‘Hurt’..thanks for sharing and once more gifting us all with your loving insights and vulnerability…XXX

  5. Thinking of you… and thanking you deeply for this amazing post about grief. Music helped me through the worst tragic grief of my life, and I can fully relate to how powerfully it helped you. Beautiful writing here too… how music can indeed ‘pull off the scab’ that we thought was healed and forgotten. With you in spirit. Namaste. ~Gina

  6. As you can imagine, this feels so (for lack of a better word) fresh to me. I cried reading your post, I’m crying right now – sounds like a beautiful, amazing friendship and I’m so sorry for your loss, Nicole. My brother and I shared a love of ELO, Pink Floyd and The White Stripes. Memories wrapped up in music – makes them stick to us even more, don’t you think?

  7. The pain of loss can suddenly hit us at the most unexpected times. Just like you Nicole, music will do it to me also.The sweet bitterness of music is a great source of connection and healing. It makes us grateful for what we have had and even more grateful for what we have. Music has always transported me and nourished me in times of need. I am quite deaf in my left ear and partially in my right, however I am able lip read a lot. Most people would never know I am deaf as I do not have hearing aids. (Tried that another story…) Thankfully I can still hear. Sometimes I have to work out what some one is saying to me by filling in the bits I don’t catch. Then I answer them and discover I have got it wrong as they give me a strange look. So I have to say “Sorry what was that, I didn’t quite catch it.” Then I usually get it. My dearest friend who has known me for over 35 years often says “am I on the right side”. I love her dearly and share many happy,beautiful and sad memories with her, as I am sure you had with your dear friend. It truly is a wonderful gift that you have shared such a special bond with your friend.You have been blessed and are all the more richer for it. Your love to the many you help in your blog gives me such a feeling of overwhelming joy. THANKYOU xx

  8. Oh, yeah, I’m so totally like that, Nicole – You explained it perfectly in your sentence: ‘Music. It’s always my undoing. It’s always my salvation.’

    Exactly the same for me…I feel your pain and your grief. I lost a very dear friend of 30+ years in a tragic car accident about two months ago…we shared similar memories to yours and Kate – and music was our glue.

    I feel your love, your loss, your grief and from my experience the scar never toughens enough to heal completely. It can be re-opened at any unexpected moment, raw, painful and f**king hurt like hell, but it is definitely the scar you are grateful to have.

    Big love and hugs ♥

  9. Yes Nicole music has the power to transport you back to a time and place. Thank you for sharing your pain in an honest way. It’s horrible to loose a friend before their time, hard to see the infinite plan there. Just know you are not alone in your loss and that your dear friend lives on in your heart and speech. Keep your spirits up and remember the good times! Xo- mo

  10. Oh I really connected with this post and loved listening to the songs you selected. Music is becoming a really important way I’m connecting with my eldest son. Just a magic connection – with no words just music and dancing. Thank you for posts, I’m inspired.

  11. Time can never erase the pain of losing someone dear. It is the hardest thing. I also find it very difficult to get over losing someone who just decided to walk out of your life.

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