What is Harmony?

How do I pay homage to this man who was my husband?  I think  filling the house with music was a good start.  I think there are other things that I can do too, one in particular.  But first, some background.

In 2000 my husband, Kevin, was playing in a Pink Floyd tribute band.  He’d been playing in it for quite a while, likely a couple of years.  It was, as he would put it, “the big show”.  He loved the sound, the lights, the whole production.  It was a huge draw locally and consequently high profile.  Not that Kevin needed to elevate his profile more than it was, but playing in this band broadened his exposure to the community.  The problem was that his personality changed when he was in this band, and not for the better.  This was probably the most troubled time of our marriage.

The leader of the band considered himself a self-made man.  He owned his own company and lived well.  His values were very materialistic and he was a driven man, that was just his temperament.  Kevin got swept up in the fervour surrounding the band and the desire to take it to the next level.  There were road trips and practices, recording sessions and jam sessions.  It started to consume him.  He had bought into another person’s dream.  The pressure on our marriage was immense.  I wasn’t happy with the changes in his behaviour – Kevin had become very impatient and obsessed with ‘making it’; his family once always first was definitely no longer a priority.  In late October of 2000, when we as a couple were just about rock bottom, Kevin left to play a gig a few hours away.  Despite the fact that he would be paid less than the sound guy and the light guy, and it was hours away, and it was Halloween, he decided he would do the gig.  I was angry, he didn’t care – overall things looked bad.

The band should have stayed overnight, but they didn’t.  On the ride home from the gig that night, the car Kevin was a passenger in was involved in a single car motor vehicle collision.  The driver had fallen asleep at the wheel and crashed into a rock cut.  An air ambulance was dispatched since the likelihood of serious injury appeared high.  I got a call from the band leader’s wife a few hours after the accident and we drove the 3 hours up to the hospital where the guys had been taken.  On the way, she consoled me by telling me no one appeared to be seriously injured.  Just bruises and scrapes and that likely her husband, who had a broken thumb, was the worst injured.

When we got to the hospital, a Padre was standing by my husband’s bedside.  Apparently there were more than broken thumbs involved.  Kevin was lucid, and because they didn’t know the extent of his injuries he had not been given any pain meds.  What was evident was that at best he had a broken hip, at worst a broken hip, internal injuries, fractured forearm, fractured shoulder.  The injuries, the Padre explained to me, were not likely to kill him, what would kill him was if he went into shock, which it appeared he was doing.  My response to her – Not on my watch.  I basically told Kevin as much as well – and then turned to the medical staff to get things moving.

Kevin was stabilized in the hospital up north and then flown by air ambulance back to our hometown.  After a couple of weeks in the hospital we arranged to bring him home to convalesce at our house.  He had a broken hip which was set in traction for six weeks, he’d fractured his forearm and fractured his right shoulder blade – no internal injuries though.

Kevin was miserable and totally bored, however, that keen mind of his was always working.  We had quite a number of books so one of the tasks he wanted me to do was to Dewey decimal the books in the house so we could have an accurate inventory.  Since that wasn’t going to happen, he started reading some of them instead.  After reading a few books he decided that he’d write a book of his own – and so he did.  Through January and February of 2001 he wrote a book and called it “Harmony in a Box”.

There were two significant things that came out of the accident.  First, Kevin came back, full circle.  He’d had his world shaken and somehow when the shaking stopped his values and self had returned to us, to me, to the kids.  Second, he managed to write his book, and it is his book. I don’t have the musical background to ever dream up any of the stuff he put in there.

So that’s the background to the other way I can pay tribute to Kev.  Wednesday will be “Harmony in a Box” days when I will put up a couple of paragraphs from his book.  It’s fiction, a story with music and history, as written by my story-telling husband.  He did know how to spin a yarn.


A Wretched State of Mind

"The Planets" - One of Kevin's recent oil paintings... No more of these ever again.

“The Planets” – One of Kevin’s recent oil paintings… No more of these ever again.

It is widely held that writing is cathartic, that it “provides psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions.”  Personally, I have always turned to writing as a way to sort through my problems or emotions or to capture a thought or feeling.  Sometimes the things that float around in our heads and seem so insurmountable become a whole bunch more manageable when written down.  Oftentimes, after we strip away the emotion associated with a problem and capture the bare facts, then true risks and potential solutions become apparent. That’s not the case with respect to Kevin’s death. Writing this doesn’t serve as a pressure valve where I can relieve the sadness and despair from his passing. There is no way to strip away the emotion and there is no solution. Fact is, I don’t solve anything by writing this blog. It’s not meant to solve things anyway.

Sometimes actually sitting down to write something can become overwhelming.  I write and the tears flow. I type but I can’t see the keyboard for tears.  Sometimes the weight of his loss sits so heavily on my shoulders and chest, I bow my head and just let the sorrow wash over me.  It may take two or three days to finish off one solitary blog because it is just too painful.  It doesn’t make me feel any better, sometimes I feel worse.  I don’t stop though, because I feel that writing and expression is an essential part of this process for me.  I don’t stop because I feel compelled to capture every part of this journey – I don’t ever want to forget.  The depth of my devastation at Kevin’s loss sums up the immensity of my love for the man.

Death, hopefully, produces a blessed oblivion for the one dying, but it devastates those unprepared or unwilling souls that are left behind.  For me it has put in me in a horrid, wretched state of mind.  I know that I am surrounded by goodness, kindness and charity, but it’s like they exist on a parallel plane, visible yet not accessible to me.  I feel that I can’t absorb those gifts even though they are right in front of me.  It’s not a lack of gratitude on my part, it’s an inability to receive.  This month, the month of June, is a tough one.  It’s not getting easier as it nears the end of the month, nor do I expect it to.  No one can make it better, a reprieve from my present state of mind has to radiate outwards from me.