If you have read any of my previous posts, you will by now know that my favorite band is a Scottish rock group from the 80s called Big Country.
In 1984, they released their second album, Steeltown. That album debuted at number 1 in the UK.
There is a particular song on that album that resonates deeply with me at the moment. That song is called Tall Ships Go and the first verse (and chorus) lyrics are:
I dreamed I heard that you were dead. I dreamed I searched an empty bed.
For a sign of you…
And the sea called hard to me, like a cell without a key. And I felt the distance.
I watch the Tall Ships go with the drift wood on the flow. With a pride that grows in hardship and I knew you were below.
I hear your voice and it keeps me from sleeping.
Why must it always be dreams when your voice comes to me.
Every morning, I wake in an empty bed now. I know. Lots of single people wake up in an empty bed every morning. But I am not single by choice.
Still, waking up alone is somewhat of a choice, because there could always be someone else in my bed; it is nonetheless a choice (regardless if it’s one I previously did not make deliberately). In the very near future, because I have met someone who I have chosen to be with and hope to wake up with in future, I know this will change.
For now, each night, I lay down to sleep and think about Suzanne. And I still miss her, terribly.
I wish I could hear her voice. I wish her voice would keep me from sleeping. But now it really is only dreams when her voice comes to me.
The anxiety, the fear and the uncertainty of this momentous time is palpable for most of us. It has really driven home that we are truly alone. Even when we were with someone, we were still alone. As widows and widowers, we no longer have that person we wanted to help us navigate the hardship that self-quarantine might bring. But we can choose to be with our Self.
And yet, somehow, I am not grieving the loss of that part of my relationship with Suzanne.
In fact, I am thankful Suzanne is not here. She was a cancer survivor and I firmly believe that this virus, if she were to have caught it, likely would have killed her anyway. So, in some respects, I am glad she wasn’t here to be anxious and fearful about getting it.
What I am grieving is the ability to have someone with me in my bed right now. I miss having my person in my bed, staying “safe” and “comfortable” in times of difficulty and strife. Like we are experiencing now. My new person is self quarantining a great distance from me, and she cannot be here with me, so I still wake alone. And it’s the aloneness that sometimes is worse than the feeling of loss.
We all sense a great shift is happening globally. A pandemic is not a trifling matter and it could be devastating to a great many people. The 1918 Spanish Flu killed nearly 50 Million people worldwide and there was nowhere near the level of interaction, travel or physical proximity in our towns and cities like there is today. Unchecked, this virus could kill many multiples of the amount of people the 1918 epidemic took.
I am not trying to be doom and gloom though. This is more about the fact that it’s hard not to feel alone in this situation, and it’s even harder to feel connected when we can’t physically be in contact with other humans. So, we have to create and be part of virtual communities. And that is what heartens me. It also is what keeps me sane when I wake up each morning in an empty bed.
Artists, musicians, museums, and so many other entities have offered up their works virtually. People are connecting in communities and online all over the world. I am holding a daily lunchtime talk using Facebook live. My objective is connecting people to ideas and concepts that we may not want to think about, but need to understand while still feeling part of a community (and not so alone).
While I am maybe the only person you will meet who is able to enjoy the “splendid isolation” (self quarantine) of this time, it took me a long time to accept that I wake up in an empty bed every morning–even if not entirely by choice. Yet, even knowing that is the case, I can still be happy. I can miss Suzanne and still be happy. I can hear her voice and still fall asleep, hoping that she will come to me in my dreams…
And you know what, I know exactly what she would tell me:
“Stay centered, Jeffrey. Breathe. This too shall pass…”