I didn't want to post till I could do it without crying. Something shifted in my brain last night and I'm like... I'm not okay. I am so very not okay. But I've managed to put most of it over to one side where it's not going to keep making me cry. At least today.

I am going to ask you not to try and be nice to me in the comments, but I'd be grateful for ...ordinary conversationy type remarks, if you can find any.
cut for drivel, navelgazing and suicidal ideation )
"No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee...." - John Donne

Yesterday a person two of my friends loved died suddenly. This isn't about her, or about the husband or the friends that loved her. I never knew her (which strikes me as a great pity) and it's not my place.

But I've been there. I walked out of my front door a wife and walked back in a widow. It kills me to know someone else is going through that. It echoes back along the lines of shared friendship and hits me hard in my own most broken place.

Go and give someone some love and kindness today - for me, for everyone whose world is etched in pain and loss, for yourself. If you're reading this you probably would have anyway, because you are all wonderful people worth cherishing. Because while heartbreak is universal, so is love. I love you.
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"No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee...." - John Donne

Yesterday a person two of my friends loved died suddenly. This isn't about her, or about the husband or the friends that loved her. I never knew her (which strikes me as a great pity) and it's not my place.

But I've been there. I walked out of my front door a wife and walked back in a widow. It kills me to know someone else is going through that. It echoes back along the lines of shared friendship and hits me hard in my own most broken place.

Go and give someone some love and kindness today - for me, for everyone whose world is etched in pain and loss, for yourself. If you're reading this you probably would have anyway, because you are all wonderful people worth cherishing. Because while heartbreak is universal, so is love. I love you.
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Hug your pets today, people. Give them liver, ball games, feather wands, cheese - whatever thing they love best. Love them.
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Hug your pets today, people. Give them liver, ball games, feather wands, cheese - whatever thing they love best. Love them.
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when you say to someone, "I feel your pain", I suspect most of us don't always mean it that literally. Empathy and imagination and compassion are marvellous things.

My downstairs neighbour's wife died recently. I say recently; I think it's been several months now, actually. Though believe me, that counts as recent.

It's still very hard for me to talk to him, to spend time with it. I do understand why death makes other people run away and avoid you. They don't know what to say, they know nothing they say can make it not have happened or make it hurt less. I also know why we need to try and not do that.

You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks
They really found you.


So I've been spending time with him, like old veterans comparing war stories. I know it's helping him. But holy fucking shit, it's hard. I wish I could be enough of a coward to avoid him completely and not care, or brave enough to spend enough time with him not to feel guilty about all the lonely hours I'm not talking to him.

And yes, I know I've been a bit shut down and incommunicado with everyone lately. I feel guilty about that too, especially for some of you that are going through shit. And that this entry is disjointed, possibly unclear and a bit of a downer.

But eh, that's life for you.
when you say to someone, "I feel your pain", I suspect most of us don't always mean it that literally. Empathy and imagination and compassion are marvellous things.

My downstairs neighbour's wife died recently. I say recently; I think it's been several months now, actually. Though believe me, that counts as recent.

It's still very hard for me to talk to him, to spend time with it. I do understand why death makes other people run away and avoid you. They don't know what to say, they know nothing they say can make it not have happened or make it hurt less. I also know why we need to try and not do that.

You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks
They really found you.


So I've been spending time with him, like old veterans comparing war stories. I know it's helping him. But holy fucking shit, it's hard. I wish I could be enough of a coward to avoid him completely and not care, or brave enough to spend enough time with him not to feel guilty about all the lonely hours I'm not talking to him.

And yes, I know I've been a bit shut down and incommunicado with everyone lately. I feel guilty about that too, especially for some of you that are going through shit. And that this entry is disjointed, possibly unclear and a bit of a downer.

But eh, that's life for you.
I knew three people whose birthday was today; my mother's two sisters, Marian Junior (Auntie Juni) and Susan Jennifer (Auntie Sue). They were twins, and (I think) two years younger than my mother, so they would have been sixty-two today. Auntie Juni was fortyish when she died, Auntie Sue was (I think) fifty.

the third was my best friend Mike Swann. he would have been thirty-four now.

some days, all the dead people that I love give me strength. love doesn't die, after all. it stays with you forever and sustains you.

but everyone who's died that you love takes a piece of you with them. and on some days there's so much of me on the other side that I feel like a ghost myself; weak, thin, insubstantial and clinging stubbornly to a world I no longer have the right to walk in.

this is what made my mother lose the will to live. her troubles started after her best friend Carol died, at the end of a year in which she'd also lost her own mother and her last living sister, Auntie Jean.

but my mother's alive now. she's walking strong and living in love again, and I got my stubbornness from her. so will I. Keep saying that.
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I knew three people whose birthday was today; my mother's two sisters, Marian Junior (Auntie Juni) and Susan Jennifer (Auntie Sue). They were twins, and (I think) two years younger than my mother, so they would have been sixty-two today. Auntie Juni was fortyish when she died, Auntie Sue was (I think) fifty.

the third was my best friend Mike Swann. he would have been thirty-four now.

some days, all the dead people that I love give me strength. love doesn't die, after all. it stays with you forever and sustains you.

but everyone who's died that you love takes a piece of you with them. and on some days there's so much of me on the other side that I feel like a ghost myself; weak, thin, insubstantial and clinging stubbornly to a world I no longer have the right to walk in.

this is what made my mother lose the will to live. her troubles started after her best friend Carol died, at the end of a year in which she'd also lost her own mother and her last living sister, Auntie Jean.

but my mother's alive now. she's walking strong and living in love again, and I got my stubbornness from her. so will I. Keep saying that.
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Am haunted and melancholy at the news that a friend has lost her mother. Her pain is a raw, palpable thing across the Internet and I am, once again, utterly powerless to make any of it go away. All I can do is send love.

*love love love to Mia*

I'm also uncomfortably conscious that one day that will be me. Mum is sixty-four now and she's in the midst of a bad flu (I'm afraid it's the one I brought back from London, so I feel guilty as well). That day is drawing closer. I can't think of it. But I'll be giving her an extra hug when I see her today.

...the dogs and the cat continue to provide a bouncy counterpoint. Spike is being exceptionally obnoxious even by his standards. Recently I've been carrying a tug toy in my coat pocket, to help him let off steam and reduce wear and tear on his leash (which is a fancy-ass double-ended training leash that I'd rather not have to replace just yet). The letting-off of steam is a thing we both enjoy, and I'm also using the opportunity to practise his tugmonster on/off switch. Tugmonster!Spike is an impressive and scary sight. He doesn't do a steady grab-tug, he bounces, shifts his feet, shifts his grip, does sudden wrenches sideways, plays keep-away at breakneck snake-striking speed - and it's even more impressive to see him drop out of that into an alert excited sit on a word. So I don't want to stop the tug games. The trouble is that it's brought out his pushy side, and every time I pause for conversation he tries to pick my pocket or starts bouncing and barking in my face.

I know what I need to do. Calming signals, gentle firmness and more bloody exercise. I've let my arm and Squish's issues (try saying that five times fast) turn into an excuse for being lazy and it's time to stop. When I first got him I discovered he needed at least an hour's running and ball playing a day to be capable of civilised behaviour for the other twenty-three. He's calmer generally now than he was then but his essential nature hasn't changed, and I've been making him bottle it up too long. Time to pull my finger out before it turns into a serious problem.

...but not today, because I'm on my way to the Magistrate's Court to deal with this piece of stupidity.
Am haunted and melancholy at the news that a friend has lost her mother. Her pain is a raw, palpable thing across the Internet and I am, once again, utterly powerless to make any of it go away. All I can do is send love.

*love love love to Mia*

I'm also uncomfortably conscious that one day that will be me. Mum is sixty-four now and she's in the midst of a bad flu (I'm afraid it's the one I brought back from London, so I feel guilty as well). That day is drawing closer. I can't think of it. But I'll be giving her an extra hug when I see her today.

...the dogs and the cat continue to provide a bouncy counterpoint. Spike is being exceptionally obnoxious even by his standards. Recently I've been carrying a tug toy in my coat pocket, to help him let off steam and reduce wear and tear on his leash (which is a fancy-ass double-ended training leash that I'd rather not have to replace just yet). The letting-off of steam is a thing we both enjoy, and I'm also using the opportunity to practise his tugmonster on/off switch. Tugmonster!Spike is an impressive and scary sight. He doesn't do a steady grab-tug, he bounces, shifts his feet, shifts his grip, does sudden wrenches sideways, plays keep-away at breakneck snake-striking speed - and it's even more impressive to see him drop out of that into an alert excited sit on a word. So I don't want to stop the tug games. The trouble is that it's brought out his pushy side, and every time I pause for conversation he tries to pick my pocket or starts bouncing and barking in my face.

I know what I need to do. Calming signals, gentle firmness and more bloody exercise. I've let my arm and Squish's issues (try saying that five times fast) turn into an excuse for being lazy and it's time to stop. When I first got him I discovered he needed at least an hour's running and ball playing a day to be capable of civilised behaviour for the other twenty-three. He's calmer generally now than he was then but his essential nature hasn't changed, and I've been making him bottle it up too long. Time to pull my finger out before it turns into a serious problem.

...but not today, because I'm on my way to the Magistrate's Court to deal with this piece of stupidity.
Well, I tried with the IM. I couldn't keep it up for very long but it needed to be done. Love you [livejournal.com profile] santaman.


Cut for a lot of rather pointless rambling that I felt an obscure need to get off my chest )

I was sure there was going to be a point to all that when I started writing it, but it seems to have come out without one, so I'll finish with a great life lesson from a movie:

"Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!"
Well, I tried with the IM. I couldn't keep it up for very long but it needed to be done. Love you [livejournal.com profile] santaman.


Cut for a lot of rather pointless rambling that I felt an obscure need to get off my chest )

I was sure there was going to be a point to all that when I started writing it, but it seems to have come out without one, so I'll finish with a great life lesson from a movie:

"Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!"

There are a lot of things I could say about Mike, but in the end I decided to leave it at the newspaper article. I will add, for my TBBS friends, that he was another sci-fi geek.

 

From the Bournemouth Daily Echo, July 15th 2004.

Article by Joanna Codd

HE was what some would describe as being outside mainstream society. A homeless man who had drifted away from his family, struggled with addiction, and lived in a tent with his two dogs.

But during his relatively short life, Big Issue seller Michael Swann's quiet and caring manner won him many admirers. And yesterday some of them gathered to pay him tribute following his sudden death at the age of 32.

Smartly-dressed business people, elderly shoppers and other members of the Westbourne community joined other friends he had made on the streets, packing the pews of West Cliff Baptist Church in Westbourne for an emotional service of thanksgiving and celebration.

Michael - known as Mikey "Two Dogs" Swann because of his constant canine companions Aki and Coax, who have now been rehomed together - had been found dead in his tent behind a Westbourne squat on June 23.

Chris Brockway, associate minister at the church, spoke of how London-born Mikey had been brought up in Hertfordshire, travelling to Italy in the school holidays to visit relatives.

When he was 11, the family moved to Southampton, and two years later, his father died. He started an engineering degree in Huddersfield, but left to come to Bournemouth, where his sister was living.

Mr Brockway explained that Mikey's life "generally went awry". He had to keep moving because of the difficulty of finding accommodation with his dogs. Contact with his family fizzled out and he developed a drugs problem.

But becoming a Big Issue seller restored his self-respect, and he and the dogs became familiar figures on his pitches outside Waitrose and Iceland.

Invited to share their own memories of Mikey, friends spoke movingly of how he much they would miss him. One talked of Mikey's love of reading, adding: "He taught me never to judge a book by his cover." A Waitrose customer spoke of his kindness and gentleness. "He was a lovely chap," she said.

After the service, friend Tony Green said: "I think he would be really pleased so many people turned up, not just his friends, but all the people who used to buy the Big Issue off him. Every morning he would be there - he was part of the furniture of Westbourne."

Liz (surname I don't use on the Net), who brought her dog Spike to the service, said: "We went through all the homelessness and drug thing together. I wouldn't have got clear of it without him. He was the best friend I had."

Milly Grant said: "I used to speak to him every time I went to Waitrose. The two dogs were always there on a rug. I bought chews for his dogs and he helped me when I lost my dog."

Fiona Davis said: "I will never forget him. I used to buy dog food for him and he was a lovely fellow. I used to have lots of shopping to carry. When the taxi came, he would help me with my bags and open the door for me."

Mr Brockway said: " He was incredibly intelligent but life certainly dealt him some tough blows. The church does quite a lot of work with homeless and marginalised people and he used to come to our Sunday lunches.

"Come rain or shine he would be on his patch in Westbourne. Even though his mum and family offered him a place to live, it was his choice to live in a tent. He had difficulties finding a house that would accept the dogs. He'd had them since they were puppies - I think they were better cared for than he was."

Mr Brockway said money collected at the service in Mikey's memory would be split between the church and Big Issue breakfasts on Fridays.

"We are also looking at a new project, setting up a community network advice office in town," he said.

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