So it goes.
Tegan and Sara – The Con
Stars – We Called It Love
George Harrison – My Sweet Lord (my mom’s favourite song)
When we first made the website I told myself over and over again that I would write and uploaded a post on June 16th. As the 16th quickly approached the pressure to share a meaningful entry became quite daunting. How could I write something that actually captured my feelings? How could I write something that even begins to express my thoughts? On top of the daunting feeling holding me back I’ve always been a major procrastinator and with no real pressure to post on the 16th, it’s perhaps not very surprising that I’m sharing this late. Despite missing the actual date it still feels sensible to share my thoughts centered around the day. Some of you are surely wondering – what is it about June 16th, 2017 that makes it different from the other days before the ride?
The 16th of June 2017 was significant because two of my all time favourite bands both shared some exciting news. To start tickets for Tegan and Sara’s ‘Con X Tour’ – a North American tour of their fifth studio album the Con went on sale. The album turns ten years old this year and is one that both they as artists and long-time fans have always held close to their hearts. The tour will include acoustic performances of the album in its entirety. While I would have loved to get tickets for more than just the one show my finances are limited and I’m just going to focus on being grateful for the chance to see and hear some of these songs performed lived for the first time. I first started listening to Tegan and Sara in 2007 (the year the Con was released) but didn’t have the opportunity to see them live until 2009 when their album Sainthood came out. Plus when they inevitably announce a Toronto show I’ll definitely get a ticket for it as well.
To make things even better Stars (another favourite band of mine) spoiled me by releasing two amazing new songs off what will be their 8th studio album. Their new songs are called Privilege and We Called It Love. I highly recommend folks check them out. Since they’ve released the songs I’ve basically been listening to them on repeat. Their music has helped me get through some of the toughest times in my life. It still helps me to this day.
Much more significant than the exciting news from the bands though is the fact that June 16th was my mom’s birthday. If my mom were still alive she would have turned 70 years old. For those that aren’t aware and are just learning of this, she passed away on April 20th with her partner and children by her sides. So it goes.
I borrow the words “So it goes” from the late author Kurt Vonnegut’s book Slaughter House-Five because they’ve increasingly been a valuable way for me to come to terms with my mom being gone. A long excerpt from the book and some others analysis of his work explain much better the meanings behind the words.
Vonnegut’s character Billy Pilgrim explains that:
“The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.” i
He continues: “When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is ‘So it goes’.” ii
An article that touches on the expression explains that “the words recur throughout the book each time a death is recorded and what they imply lies at the centre of any understanding of Vonnegut’s work: fatalism, stoicism, and the acceptance that no use will come of shrinking away when the worst has happened.” iii
Another article that elaborates the expression explains that “it neatly encompasses a whole way of life. More crudely put: “Shit happens, and it’s awful, but it’s also okay. We deal with it because we have to.” iv
The expression reminds me of the inevitably of death and that it’s not something to dwell on. When my mother passed away she made it clear she wanted no funeral, no celebration of life and simply to be cremated. For that reason, I hope no one mistakes this post for some kind of eulogy because isn’t meant to be one. I’ve struggled with the idea of trying to write some kind of eulogy already, but the truth is I’m not sure where I’d even begin. How could I even begin to capture the beauty and accomplishments of someone’s life in a few words? Do I miss my mom? Of course. I miss her every single day. But instead of focusing on the fact that she’s gone I think instead I’ll stick to what the Tralfamordians say “So it goes.”
PS: I couldn’t write this post without expressing MASSIVE thanks to so many people that have been there to help me through the ongoing challenge of coming to terms with the loss of my mom. I’ve been blessed to have support from so many people for which I’ll be forever grateful. I want to give a big shout out to some folks that through this process have been a bigger help than I think they realize.
My Family: I’m so lucky to have all of you. Knowing I can count on you all means the world to me.
My Pathways/NHCHC Family: You’ve been so good to me. Big thanks for the card, bath bombs and opportunity to take this trip.
Katrina Burbidge: Thanks for listening and sharing your own story over that lunch break conversation. It meant a lot to me.
Tom Dusome: It’s a blessing knowing that I can always count on your support no matter what happens. You’re like a brother to me. I love you.
Olivia Strohschein: Thanks for regularly checking in and taking those walks with me.
Miriam Beatty: Thanks for making the time to hang out, listen, go for walks, take adventures and be a great friend. It’s been so helpful.
Wade: Thanks for being a damn superhero and especially that food from Hearty Hooligan.
i Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughter House-Five (pg 26-27)
ii Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughter House-Five (pg 26-27)