Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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Requiem for my parents

Saturday night I sang the Durufle Requiem in concert with about 80 other people plus orchestra. It’s gorgeous music and is based on chant motifs that move lyrically from voice part to voice part. I sang it once before in Boston with the Trinity Choir, which served me well with this new performance.

I realized on Friday, as I sang along for the eleventy millionth time to a recording, that I could let go of that and just sing it. It’s in my bones now and I barely need the score to know those weird notes to pull out of the air after 8 bars of time signature changes. Being able to just sing it freed me to feel it and realize that I was singing this Requiem for my parents.

Mom’s birthday is this week and Daddy’s was two weeks ago. Mom died in 2014 and Dad passed away last May. We had memorial services for both, of course, but their ashes have been sitting on the dressers at my house waiting to move to their final resting place at Cathedral in the Pines. Dad wanted Mom’s ashes nearby and since it was a comfort to him, that’s where they stayed. He would talk to her sometimes, as would I. Last spring he was finally ready to let her go so we bought the plaques for their “condos” as he and Mom termed their niches in the columbarium, but he passed away before we could actually inter the ashes. And it was too hot and logistically complicated to do it when Daddy died.

We are finally seeing them to their final rest next Friday, and my brother and I have cooked up a service from elements of the Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Methodist traditions. I mostly just want them to be at rest and not in my closet (I moved them off the dresser when I got my baby kitties, since nothing is safe with them around). But I feel like I’m back in the limbo time between the death and the service. I want to get this done. I want it to be over, for them to be at rest. It’s the last thing I can do for them, other than just live my life well.

So keep them, keep us, in your prayers.

Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord;
And let light perpetual shine upon them.
May their souls, and the souls of all the departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

And from the Durufle Requiem:

IX. In Paradisum
In Paradisum deducant Angeli,
in tuo adventu suscipiant te Martyres
et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.

Chorus Angelorum te suscipit
et cum Lazaro quondam paupere
aeternam habeas requiem.


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Thanksgiving transition

This is my first Thanksgiving without my father, without either parent. I’m living in their house which doesn’t feel like my own on a holiday spent in this place for over 30 years. It’s a kind of limbo time. I’m alone – by choice – today, staying quiet after being sick most of the week, and taking down fall decorations to put up Christmas ones. No turkey or stuffing, no pie, no green bean casserole, no family gathered around the table. I missed them for about 30 minutes but I’ve spent other holidays on my own before. It’s just that this is the first one in this house. It makes a difference. I miss my daddy and am grateful to have my beautiful kitty girls for company.


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Pity Party for One

Herons at Emerald BayMoving to Texas was my idea and I have no regrets about the decision. But I must confess that it’s hard to once again give up everything I know – even more than usual this time because there’s no new job at the other end. I found myself in tears yesterday, realizing that there’s no one coming with me who shares any memories of life and working days from Virginia to Connecticut with stops in Maine and Boston.

I’ve done this before. I’ve moved to places where I didn’t know anyone in the whole state. Certainly I’m not the only person who’s done this.

But I’m feeling vulnerable today, quiet and sad. And fat, but that’s not anything new. I have 10 work days left and three weeks from today we leave on the big road trip to Texas. Lots to do and think and plan – but I also need to give myself permission to feel and grieve and let go. I’ve been holding on by my fingernails in some ways and that’s not sustainable or healthy. Good thing I’m starting the day with a therapy appointment!


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I’m Not in a Very Good Place Now

Buddha on the rocksIt’s been hard for me to read most of the weight/diet/exercise blogs these last few weeks.  Although you are all writing about yourselves and your own lives, I read and feel judged and lacking – and realized today that it was because (duh) I was judging myself against your successes and ripping myself up inside for not measuring up.

I am morbidly obese.  I’ve gained and lost pounds so many times and am just so sad that I’ve gained back enough that I finally gave away four winter coats in smaller sizes – so that other people can stay warm and so there’s room in the closet for something that covers me.  My knees are bad and I drink too much diet soda.  I don’t exercise as much as I should.  I’m in reasonably good health, all things considered, but it could be better.  I don’t expect to live as long as the thin women my age, and frankly, that’s okay with me; but I want the kitty to be cared for, so that’s a motivator to take care of myself.

I’m not saying this because I want your pity, your sympathy, or most especially your advice.  I could write the book on how to lose weight because I’ve lost it so many times.  I just haven’t found the *click* inside that lets me keep it off.  I hold myself to ridiculously high standards of perfection that set me up to fail, then feed myself comfort food to feel better.  Yes, counseling is a good idea.  I know it, and you’ve told me a dozen times.  Please don’t tell me again; we’ll consider that advice already given.

My Christmas trip to visit family, which should bring joy, has me tied up in knots.  I know we’ll have the Weight Conversation, the Diet Conversation, the Health Conversation, and of course the Church Conversation – and, given the election results, probably the Political Conversation.  The morbidly obese non-churchgoing liberal Democrat is on her way, crying inside that the people who most understand me aren’t related to me and won’t be part of my celebration.

But it’s not just about me.  Christmas is about family and tradition and being there for them in their lives, even if being there stresses me out.  I can deal with it for a week and come home to my small world, my routine, my solitary-ness, my kitty.

I’m a good person, a good friend, an excellent librarian, a loving cat-mama.  I’m smart enough to work at Yale and if I’m old enough to belong to AARP, I’m old enough to make my own choices.  I just need to own them.

I don’t want to diet. I want to eat sensibly in moderation, to enjoy a variety of food, to ease the stress on my knees, to be comfortable in my body and with myself.  That may be mutually exclusive.  All I can do is try and take things one small step at a time.