Sunday, October 17, 2004


Lately I've been listening to 94.9 The Rock on the radio. I seem to go through these periods in my life when I get plugged back in to popular music for a while. Last time was 1999 when I was working the afternoon shift with a couple of guys in a warehouse. There was some unbelievably good music that year.

Well, seems like those times are back. They probably never left; it's just that I'm listening to a station that really suits my tastes. A half a dozen really, really good songs have come out of nowhere at me in just the last couple of weeks. It Can't Be Nashville Every Night by the Tragically Hip, Somehwhere Only We Know by Keane, Not Ready to Go by the Trews, I Won't Back Down by Tom Petty... and latest of all, for me, is Yellow by Coldplay. It's one of the most beautiful songs I've heard in years.

Like so much these days, it lends itself to exploring my feelings over Jody losing his battle with cancer. On the whole, the song has nothing to do with that. In fact, it more plugs into a storyline I've had in my head for years about a man in either some vague future or an alternate world; a lost soul who is sent to bring about the end of the world but instead is converted by the compassion of the people he comes to know into being an instrument in the hands of God to save the world instead; a soldier whose bloodless victories convert him into a diplomat who, like Moses, is fated not to live to see the fruits of his labours. The song evokes in me visions of a golden ribbon that leads the viewer through the crucial arc of his life; a prophecy. If you listen to the lyrics, you might imagine what I mean.

But anyway, the chorus begins with the lines, "Your skin, oh yeah your skin and bones / Turn into something beautiful..." "Skin and bones" for me cuts deep, because I immediately think of my cat Jenny, who I had for thirteen years. A beautiful black cat who doted on me and almost no one else. The last couple years of her life, she had a thyroid condition, and while her fortunes ebbed and flowed, there were times she was just skin and bones, especially the last couple of months before she died. She couldn't get up on things anymore, she sometimes couldn't control her bodily functions... Anyway, the song takes me right back there, those fearful moments when I would confront the fact she wouldn't be around forever or even for much longer, and there was really nothing I could do about it. And one morning, she was just gone.

One morning, not long ago, Jody, my beautiful, sweet RubyOcelot, was just gone. Combine that with the fact that Jody was diagnosed with cancer not even a week after Jenny died, and you can really appreciate the tie-in.

And so I'm trying to understand this line that literally brings tears to my eyes. Your skin and bones turn into something beautiful. My sense of it is that the physical body is just a fleeting vessel that corrupts, but that something beautiful and incorruptible is finally freed from it. But it's still such a painful idea, because we're still losing that person (human or feline), at least until it happens to us. I want to be able to let Jody and Jenny know how I loved them, how much they're still a part of who I am. I suppose they knew, to the extent that they were able to know. But I'd like to be able to make it clear. I don't know; maybe one day I can. Or maybe it was just that plain to them the moment they died and everything was revealed. Or maybe there's nothing. I don't know. The funny thing is, I find myself lately not so much afraid of nothingness after death for my own sake, but for the sakes of those who've gone before me. I can't bear the idea that they don't exist anymore, somewhere, somehow. There are few ideas more revolting and offensive.

No. No, they exist. They curl around my mind and soul at will and know the whole of me, better than I do; the good, the bad and the ugly. They are with me always.

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