Thursday, April 25, 2019

On This Day...

It's my birthday, little sweetheart. My best ones were always with you. And your memorial was, incredibly, also held on this day. The words I wrote and spoke for you that day are always on my mind and last year, expanded and with underscoring, they were weaved into our album Sometimes in Dreams as the track, "The Choral Text Passage".

It's here: https://bipolarexplorer.bandcamp.com/track/the-choral-text-passage

Love you forever.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Morning After The Miracle

It's Easter Monday, little sweetheart. Not everyone celebrates this day and it's not widely thought of, I don't think, here in the states, but there's something resonant in it, I believe. The day after the miracle - and didn't I always call you one, yourself? - the first day of forever.

This morning as I'm having coffee and gathering notes for the days writing, I have Joe McGasko's WFMU show on. He's interviewing Dave Cousins of The Strawbs and the first song they play is one your favorites, the haunting "Where Does the Time Go?", with Sandy Denny on lead vocals. It just always stops me right in my tracks.

Someone else, overcome as I by the sound and words, would turn it off but I turn it up and sit quietly, the tears rolling down my face and think of you.

It happens a lot. On Friday, I was in physical therapy when Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" came on. I simply stopped what I was doing and sat there and let every memory roll over me. How you sang that song yourself - it had just come out - over and over, switching from your head voice to your chest voice in the chorus. How my heart swelled.

I remember you singing it in the parking lot of Andronico's, it was the last time, though we couldn't know it, and I gathered you in my arms and said "I love it when you sing".

My miracle. My Miracle Girl. How very much I love you. Forever. Forever.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Good

I got a haircut today, little sweetheart. It was long overdue. You know how I am. I'll let it go for ages and get terribly scruffy.

I can never get a haircut and not think of you. I was procrastinating about it once. I didn't have someone to see in SF and I was a bit fussy about that. You liked a place just down the street from your apartment. Lee's. You took me by there and they seemed nice.

I still wasn't completely convinced but you told me it might be good if I wore shorter hair. I'd look "a bit less like a crazy old man", you said. I told my friend Sheri that because I thought it was hilarious. True and very very funny. But you were aghast. "She'll think I'm not good to you!" you cried.

Oh, my little sweetheart, no. No one could ever think that. I make sure. I never stop talking about you. How you saved and changed me and called me your treasure.

That day I went to Lee's, I was a little surprised in the end by how much he cut off. How short it was. But when I walked home to you, you smiled and kissed me and said simply, "I love it".

That's all I needed. That's all I ever needed.

Love you forever.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Holy Thursday

Tonight is Maundy Thursday, little sweetheart. It's Holy Week, beginning last Sunday with Palm Sunday and ending this Sunday with Easter. I often go up to that little church I've told you about on Wednesday nights for their candlelight meditation service.

They're not having one this week, but instead had a service tonight, called Tenebrae. I first went to one a few years ago at St Thomas, which was rather grand and dramatic. Tonight's at West End was very nice. More formal than the Wednesday meditation but still an opportunity to sit quietly, to think and pray for you, for us. At one point, during a reading, a little bird sang sweetly just outside. I sit near the side door in the back, it's my little place. I heard the sweet song and knew it was you.

How grateful I am for you. Always in my thoughts, these quiet hours help to bring you even nearer. I'm keen to tell you more. I've been writing a lot to you in the book of ours. Just trying to do a little good each day. Our life is feeling close to me and when I have you so present in my thoughts, it comforts and guides me.

I have a lot of almost unbearable sadness in me. You, as ever, are my light. I love you so. More to tell, more to write, more to whisper to you quietly as sleep overtakes me.

With all my love forever.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Letter to a Friend

Little sweetheart, a friend of mine, Kristen Hartke, who writes a food column for The Washington Post emailed me the other day. She's writing a kind of unusual story about loss - what do people do on the day that is the anniversary of the passing of someone very dear to them. 
 
Well, she thought about you and I, little sweetheart. 
 
She's spoken to a lot of people and learned a lot about how different cultures approach this day and also, of course, how what we prepare, serve and eat may have some special significance or import. 
 
She interviewed me on the phone Thursday night and then I sat down and tried to write out some of the things I had mentioned and told her about. Partly in case I'd forgotten something and mostly so I could say them all to you right here, little sweetheart. 
 
I don't know what, if any, of this might wind up in Kristen's story but, just like always, talking and writing about you - the great gift of my life - brings you closer and comforts me. I love you so! 
 
Here's what I wrote: 
 
 
So, great talking to you Thursday. Your article sounds really interesting and resonant, and, like I said, made me think to write down quickly a few of the things I mentioned.

So… rambling a little about both the Day and food…

My thoughts of Summer are constant. She is always with me. And, of course, the subject and very reason for my work, our work. Bipolar Explorer continues, “of, for and about her”, as I often say. I’ve maintained a little blog, Summerlove, for several years where I write to her. And I’m working on a book of memoirs (the first of three, I hope) about her.

So, Summer is always with me and in my thoughts, every day. But, like we said, this day does come around each year. And despite our sometime intentions that we might better mark our beloveds’s memories by observing their birthday instead of their passing, it comes up on us.

The first three years, I traveled to California to be there with Summer’s parents on the day. The last five, I’ve been here. Over these ones at home, I’ve often been busy marking the day by doing something band-related to honor her. That’s included the releasing of singles “We’ll All Go Together” (2016) , “Watchers and Holy Ones” (2017) and videos for “You Are” (2015), “Dream 3” (2018) and “Necessary Weight” (2019).

So, I’m often busy making something for Summer on the day and forget to eat at all! But food is and was an important part of our life and relationship and continues to be. I loved cooking for her and when I’m in California visiting Mike & Linda, I cook for them each day.

Summer herself loved baking and on her visit here - we met working together in San Francisco and were immediately inseparable, a week after I first returned to NYC, she had booked a flight to visit me the week after my birthday - she wanted to make some cupcakes. She looked around my kitchen doing a quick inventory and spotted a big silver bowl squirreled away at the top of one cabinet, unused for years. I grabbed that down and then she made a list of all the things I needed in my kitchen, we marched up to Bed, Bath & Beyond across from Lincoln Center and procured each item. She made cupcakes that night and from that day forward I was always presenting her with recipes and menus to choose from so I could make dinner for her.

After Of Love and Loss came out in 2012, for more than a year, the band had monthly “couch concerts” here at The Shrine - I’d cook a big meal for the guests, we’d eat and then adjourn to the front room studio and play live for everyone, surrounded by pictures of Summer, songs written for her filling the air. 

On the first “anniversary” in 2012 when I was with Summer’s folks in Davis, we went to the Nugget Market, this lovely grocery in the beautiful little college town where UC Davis resides, and Linda saw a cake she imagined would catch Summer’s eye too. She had them write Summer’s name on it with pink icing.

The Serafin’s have a beautiful house in Davis. Linda herself designed it and it’s where Summer lived when she was going to high school. Her room is still exactly as she left it, her walk-in closet filled with her things and her cotton candy scent. Summer told me of the Davis house with great wonder when we first met and couldn’t wait to take me there. We’d often go, just the two of us, up there from San Francisco, and stay for days on our own, enjoying the garden, watching movies, sleeping late under the canopy of her beautiful bed and cooking.

One year on my birthday, Summer got us tickets to see Death Cab for Cutie, a very important band to the two of us, in Sacramento. We drove up and stayed in Davis. The show was beautiful and emotional and we held each other close and cried. When we got back to Davis, Summer presented me with four different recipe cards she’d selected of possible birthday cupcakes and asked me to pick one. I picked the most over the top chocolate one of the four, of course, and she began laying out provisions. Then she discovered that the hand mixer that was usually in the kitchen had been whisked off to the other house in Yuba City. She was in something of a panic. I noted that it was such a nice friendly pretty little neighborhood and asked if it would be out of line to maybe knock on a neighbor’s door and ask if we could borrow a hand mixer. “Great idea!” she said. You go do that”.

So, I did. I knocked on the door next door and Mary, their neighbor, very kindly lent me their hand mixer. I told her it was my birthday and Summer & I were there for a few days, Summer making me birthday cupcakes and promised to bring her a couple when I returned the mixer the next day.

The cupcakes were amazing and amazingly complicated. They had molten chocolate inside the batter and all told - prep time and baking time combined - took about 4 hours! I have some pictures of Summer taking them out of the oven and another of her hand-drizzling more chocolate over each individual cupcake there in the beautiful Davis kitchen.

Cupcakes are actually something that I make on Summer’s days, birthday especially, and take around to both my neighbors here on the 5th floor and down the street to the lovely nuns I’ve gotten to know that live in the little rectory across from Sacred Heart. The head nun there, The Mother Superior, I guess, Sister Catherine, is especially kind and always remembers Summer & I. I knocked on the door this year on the 18th and asked if she would say a little prayer for Summer. She took my hand and we stood right there in the doorway and did just that.

I think the thing about food and the day is something that you seemed to have hit upon yourself, Kristen, when I was telling you all this - it’s about giving something to others. That’s so fitting because it’s so very much like Summer herself.

Someone told a story at Summer’s memorial - which was held, incredibly, on my birthday, yet another point of nexus connecting her and I forever. It was an actress, Bree Elrod, who was a cast mate of Summer’s at The Huntington up in Boston. Bree was always wearing a striped wool hat during their tenure there. One day she lost it. And the next day when she got to the theatre, Summer had a present for her - it was a pretty pair of warm striped stockings. Summer told her “I couldn’t bear you going with your stripes!”.

She was so very kind. To everyone. And to me. She saved my life with her endless kindness. She changed me and called me her treasure. She gave of herself. And she taught me everything.

Giving is very much the order of the day. That day, too, maybe more than others, even.

There’s so much more! But I think that’s a few of the things we spoke about... And seasonings! While doing the kitchen inventory here on her first visit, Summer looked through the spices and asked “hey, where’s your seasoned salt?” And (especially Californian) where’s the lemon pepper?” They were in-stock here, then immediately and always. I use them in every savory recipe still to this day. And on the little red table where Summer always set up all her things, her office/make up station, and where we would eat together, where now her things remain, a kind of ground zero of the shrine within The Shrine, a bottle of each - Seasoned Salt and Lemon Pepper - reside.

Okay, hard to bring this to end, as ever, so just signing off with a to be continued and this little excerpt from an interview France’s Indiemusic did with me after our album Dream Together (2017) came out:

“She’s always with us in so many ways. Her passing is entirely tragic. For anybody out there who wonders how you endure, I can only say what a friend told me when I said I didn’t know how I was going to go on or what I was going to do now. He just said, “you’re doing it.” It’s always there, grief. Like if you even breathe a little too hard. I think possibly you learn to carry it. I can’t tell anyone out there that it’s something you ever get over. For myself, I don’t even see that as some goal. I don’t want to “get over” anything that has anything to do with Summer. Not even the most painful parts. I want all of that. I welcome her, ask her to be near me.

I used to say to her all the time, even if she was just going into another room for a minute or only just shifting her weight to grab something from the other side of the bed, “don’t go too far away,” I’d say. I still say that to her all the time. Whether it’s in a quiet moment when I suddenly sense her presence or we’re in the middle of a session and a lyric I wrote for her hits me as we come to it.
Summer isn’t the main reason BPX goes on, she’s the only reason. She is the reason. And I think I can trust that I’m doing things for the right reason if I always know the reason for it is her. Not out of any ambition other than to honor and conjure her. She’s my conscience.”


With love & faith,

M

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

April (ten)

Little sweetheart, today is your friend, Danya's birthday.

I remember the date, April 10th, because her birthday, like mine two weeks later, came so sadly on the heels of your tragic passing. Your memorial was actually held on my birthday. Sadder than even last year when I was in the trauma unit of a hospital after getting run over by a car. But on that sad day in 2011 when we gathered to honor you, Danya (and her mom) both made a point of quietly giving me a card and remembering. It was very kind.

I don't really hear from her, anymore, little sweetheart. I think it's very hard for some people to stay in touch when the memory is so very painful. I'm not sure if that's why, I honestly don't know. But I always text her a message on her day.

It dawned on me after that this is probably her 40th birthday, because she's six months older and your 40th is this November. I saw that she got married a couple of years ago and recently came to understand that they are expecting their first child. I'm happy for them, as I'm sure you are, but I also can't help thinking of how you wanted to raise a child with me - no one ever even asked me that before you did - and all that might've been.

But then I remember that there is so much that I don't know yet, all the things that you do know on the Other Side, and that perhaps so much more is possible and yet to know once I'm with you again and forever.

As always, my thoughts are with, of, about you. I love you so.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

April 4

March and April are both filled with bitter anniversaries, little sweetheart. April 4 is another, almost inadvertent one. It was the day we already determined pre-tragedy for me to return to NYC.

The weekend before was meant to be closing of "Blackbird" and you and I had plans to spend the next few days together in Davis before I flew out on April 4 and then you joined me a couple of weeks later for recording sessions in Brooklyn, a workshop of "My Before & After" in the city and a quick trip down to Philly to see Low on my birthday - we already had tickets.

Instead, April 4 was the day I returned to NYC without you or any plans at all except to return to SF for your memorial, held, incredibly, on my birthday.

That feeling still of desperate loss continues to burn, little sweetheart, when this day, like several others comes around each year. I'll try to take it easy today. To listen quietly for your gracious spirit, blessed presence and hear your instruction.

Please be with me now and always and take me to you the moment heaven will allow. I love you with all my heart and soul. Forever. Forever.