The evolution of this song was grueling. It seems like such a happy song, and it is! But can’t you still see the intense pain in my face as I sing? Can you see the residual anger at the dragon who left me behind for his beloved guru?
I worked really hard to get my glow on with this one. I had just gone through my Reiki II attunement (which is totally wonderful but can really kick your butt and shake things up as well) and I was in an intense online relationship with someone in an (ONLINE) Ram Dass class on relationships AND the biggest factor was that my son had died a few months prior to the class. I was on the healing side of a break down when this song was finally finished. In fact, this song was part of the glue that help put me back together.
Now I feel like Jimmy Fallon writing a thank you letter, “Thank you, song writing, for helping me go crazy in a softer way and bringing me back with something to show for it.”
I discovered a new place called song.land where I hope you will go to hear Jessica Lewis asap. It is wonderful! It is a podcast with a fresh vibe. Smart, and important. I won’t weigh it down. Just go there. https://song.land/stay-out-of-the-sun/
[T]he prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a
bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western
science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East.”
Alan Watts, The Book of Knowing Who You Really Are
Your first word was light.
ironic that you grew up to wear such a dark costume. I guess it
wasn’t a costume as much as it was a uniform. When you were home
you wore a tee shirt and shorts with your flip-flops and your hair in
a pony tail and you looked relaxed, friendly even. But when you went
out you put on several layers of chains and your skull and cross bone
ties, the all black button-down shirts, black pants, Fedora, knives
in your pocket, and the face. You put on the face that said, “Don’t
fuck with me.”
I knew you.
all about perspective. Isn’t it?
instance, right now, I am awake, so I think that to be awake is the
normal state of awareness. I believe other mind-states are not as
important, but that’s only because I have limited vision and not
because they are of lesser value or less connected within the
if dreams and altered states of consciousness are just bits of our
reality scattered over space and time like a beam of light scattered
over a stretch of atmosphere and are of equal validity?
if, even before you are born, and after you die, you are a part of a
cosmic dream, and you are scattered over a field of macro-dynamic
uncertainty in which life and death are alternately particle and
is your sky, the by and by your story unwinds in, your hopes and your
worries spiral round in, down to the beginning where it all begins
again until something causes a new event in your horizon.
I am just daydreaming now, because sometimes daydreaming pays off; we don’t always know how we know what we know; we just have to wait and be open to whatever comes to us.
time I wanted to paint a candle flame representing divine light. I
wanted to show the flame and the light around it.
was sitting in a doctor’s office, waiting for my scheduled visit,
mesmerized by the idea of a single flame that I could only see in my
mind’s eye. I like to doodle while I wait so I kept drawing the
lines over and over, trying to get it right. All of a sudden, I
realized that light attracts light like a magnet. I knew instantly,
on a visceral level, that light would cling to itself.
was such a strong intuition that I quickly got out my phone and did a
Google search about light and electromagnetic energy and discovered
that photons are indeed cohesive. I used other people’s information
to back up what I intuited, but I learned
about the cohesive properties of photons by drawing a candle flame
and daydreaming about divine love!
people can train themselves to tap into the power of dreams to help
solve everyday problems. I have a friend in Finland whose cat got
lost in a snowstorm. He is a lucid dreamer. He went to bed with the
question, “Where is my cat?” He dreamed that the cat was in an
old pig barn not too far away, so when he woke up the next day, he
went there to find the cat.
luck at first.
he started asking around that neighborhood, and someone said they had
seen the cat in the pig barn.
went back and searched again. This time he found the cat hiding in
the rafters. She was thin and scared, but okay otherwise.
found his cat because he dreamed where to look for her.
want to dream about Nick. I want to find him; tell him I love him and
death is just a trick of the light.
a beam of light hits the atmosphere all those molecules of gas and
stuff break it up; they scatter it, and the short, blue waves are
what you see
hanging round in the sky, and that is why the sky appears blue. The
other rays of the spectrum are not gone, you just don’t see them.
that is what happened when you died, Nick. You hit Death’s
atmosphere and your light was scattered. I can’t see you but that
does not mean you are not here.
like patterns and rhythm. I make stuff up all the time just for the
flow of sound, for the click and pound, for the sharp and round of
the ups and downs. I like to talk to myself “just to hear my head
rattle” as grandma always said, and because it helps me think.
Maybe it drowns out some of the other noises I don’t like to hear
as well, I don’t know.
sense the world that already is as it is, or I build a world and it’s
the real deal. Isn’t it?
call that table green, so it is green. But it doesn’t look green to
my husband, Tim. Everything green looks brown to him. So, we have a
problem with reality, or perception, anyway.
cold. It’s hot. It’s late. No, it’s not. You’re a flake.
You’re deep. You make me sick. You make me think. It all makes
sense if you get far enough away, or close enough, look through a
microscope, dig deep, go to sleep. Ask Freud what he thinks. Or
better yet, cause you still Jung, dream a little dream to meditate
asked why the sky is blue, and it reminded me of you. During
your last two years on the planet we got to watch a comedian almost
every night. You lived in apartment 9 and I lived in 11 so we were
right next door to one another. Jane used to run from apartment to
apartment. She learned how to ring my doorbell. She’d jump up, hit
the buzzer and then wait patiently for me to open the door. The first
few times it happened I thought it was a prankster because I didn’t
see her sitting there. She is such a smart dog. And maybe she is a
there was a comedian we liked who did a bit about a kid asking why
the sky is blue. And in my mind, I see Harland Williams onstage. He
says this kid comes up to him, tugs on his sleeve, and says, “Hey
Mister, why is the sky blue?” And Harland says, “Well kid, the
sky is blue,’ but then you and jump in and go, “because of the
scattering of light over macro-dynamic mighty molecules –
because the molecules pick up the blue light, see, as light enters
the atmosphere, the blue waves, like a bunch of college kids on
spring break, are all over the place, just scattered all over,
abundantly visible and they are fucking everywhere, all these short,
wavy light packets, blue blue blue.” And Williams looks at you,
dumbfounded while Quentin Tarantino snaps the black and white
clapperboard shut and says, “That’s a wrap.” Still staring at
you he says, “Oh, sorry dude.” Then you fade to black.
is canned laughter and applause as music from Lost Highway starts to
play and Woody Harrelson offers me a slice of white pizza from Sal’s
on the corner of that place in Hainesport. I am beginning to realize
this must be a dream. I look at the back of my hand. Old habit.
changes. We are walking down the hall of the apartment building
together and a neighbor says “Hello, Nick.” You swear he is
making a rude statement—it was always like we were in two worlds
because we could be in the same hallway, experiencing the same set of
circumstances and I’d see it one way and you would see it another
way altogether. You’d interpret the greeting “Hello, Nick.” to
mean that the neighbor thought he was better than you and that he was
disrespecting you –that he had to make some statement about
the way you dress, had to say something about the hat you were
wearing or the tattoos all over your body or the skulls on your
person or whatever it was that you thought people were judging you
of that dream I had before you were born, I knew it would be hard for
you in this lifetime; You knew it too. We both knew what we were
signing up for and we agreed it would be worth it. But we didn’t
know we knew! I mean, I sure didn’t sit around thinking, “Oh wow,
I’m going to have this kid and he’s going to have a really fucked
up, hard ass life.” God, no! It was never like that! It was more
like we knew it in that other dimension, in that spiritual dimension,
where we go when we dream, or where you went right before you had
deal we made in the prenatal dream was that we had to forget the
details of the dream! Was it some kind of dream land Fight Club rule?
The first rule of this new life
together is that you don’t remember this little chat we had about
this new life together.
used to beg you to try to remember anyway when things were bad.
Sometimes if I could wake you up as you were starting to seize it
would stop the seizure.
dreamed I was in the delivery room and a baby was lying on my belly,
only he could talk like (a very wise) adult. We had a detailed
conversation about how he could help me during this lifetime and how
I could help him. It was exciting to think how we could work together
and all the things we could learn. We also knew that our life
together would be terribly difficult, but that every second of it was
going to be worth it. We agreed that we would have to forget the
conversation in order for the lessons to take hold. At the end of the
dream we forgot all the details.
UP! WAKE UP, NICK!” I shouted and shook you, desperate to come
between you and a seizure. Whispering on another level, “Remember
why you are here, Please, Nick.”
you would say, “I’m trying, I’m trying.”
you woke up, weak and trembling, not sure what had transpired, but
ready for the day to begin.
darkness took you, beat the hell out you, tried to kill you, choked
you, turned your face blue, tore up your mouth, knocked out your
teeth, cut your head, twisted your neck, bruised your back, and
scraped your legs and ankles raw.
in the hallway, I thought the neighbor just said hello. I thought he
was being friendly. I wanted to offer him a cup of tea sometime and a
little Reiki maybe. I always said there is more than one reality and
you said, “No! There is only one reality!” It made you very angry
to think of alternate scenarios for the way things were for us, even
though you were highly imaginative and came up with all kinds of
possible situations for characters in your art.
said we have to decide if the universe is a friendly place or
unfriendly, and you believed it was neither, but that people were
just assholes. I always argued that people were basically good; you
said people were just out to take what they could.
seizures made you rage. The nurse at the children’s hospital in
L.A. explained that intense rage was just part of the seizure itself,
that after the petit mal or grand mal, a person might feel any number
of things, and you happened to feel angry.
were five when the doctors figured out that the staring spells and
behavioral problems were seizures. Before that everyone thought you
were just being rude. It makes me angry to think that you were sick,
and everyone thought you were just a bad kid. And you couldn’t
remember the seizures so you couldn’t figure out why people were
upset. What a confusing world that must have been! One minute you
were watching Scooby Doo or M TV and the next minute people were
yelling at you for no reason apparent to you, anyway. Or later, they
were putting you in in restraints. Or they were putting you in jail
and spraying you with pepper spray.
But you were still young when you started hearing the noises at night. That was before we knew you were having seizures. You called me into your room. You were sitting in the bed calling me, “ I hear the noises.” you told me.
the shit out of me! It was creepy as hell. I had to silently pray the
Our Father while I walked into your room because I was so scared. It
triggered memories of when I thought I was being possessed by demons
as a little girl. When I saw you sitting there, staring into a corner
of the room with that weird smile on your face, I have to tell you,
Nick, I know where folks in the old days got the stupid idea that
seizure disorders were caused by demonic possession. I am ashamed to
admit that I was afraid, and I never wanted you to see my fear. I
shiver to remember.
When you were five you went into status epilepticus which meant that you were seizing and not coming out of the seizure. They flew you and your teddy bear from Lancaster to Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. Tim and I were divorced by then. I was married to John. John and I drove in what seemed like cartoon style traffic to meet you there because they would not let us go in the helicopter. Someone, a nurse told me we were connected to you through our prayers. I guess it was nurse. Maybe it was an angel. They pinned wings on your teddy bear. You were still unconscious when we got to L.A.
I felt helpless to help you.
you were a baby, I could rock you and nurse you and protect you from
everything, but I didn’t know how to protect you from seizures and
not even the doctors knew what to do.
You kept going to the
window, talking to someone out there. We were 6 stories up. Who were
you talking to?
someone asks me what I want, I have to tell them the truth.
want to wake up under a tree like Siddhartha.
want to fly like Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
want to be like St. Francis of Assisi who asked an almond tree to
speak to him of God and watched it bloom in the dead of winter.
know in my bones that the dreams of my heart are not impossible; I
have already experienced enough everyday miracles to know that I
would have missed them had I nothad
the perception or receptivity to see them. That is why I love the
idea of lucid dreaming and neuroplasticity.
people may think conscious control only goes so far, but I say, let’s
see how far! And still, we ain’t seen nothin yet!
heard something on Youtube the other day about Tibetan monks who
practice lucid dreaming to attain enlightenment. They have been doing
dream yoga for over 1000 years and draw fruits from their purposeful
hypnagogia that scientists can measure with graphs and scales. I
learned how to lucid dream when I was 18 by staring at the back of my
hand while I fell asleep with the intention of remembering to look at
my hand while dreaming. That was the first step toward conscious
control of dreaming. Once I gained control, I had hoped to learn all
kinds of things from cool people like yogis and saints; I wanted to
do things I couldn’t normally do while awake.
Today my dream life is haphazard and I doubt if anyone would want to measure or chart anything about it. But it got to the point before that I was aware of falling asleep, of dreaming and then waking up. It was like walking into a valley and then walking out of the valley in the morning. But I was more interested in hooking up with Tim, your handsome, sax playing dad with the Dan Hicks record that I wanted. I started focusing more on him than on lucid dreaming, so I stopped training.
doesn’t mean I stopped dreaming.
have always been a dreamer and my dreams have always been vivid and
memorable. Dreams are not something you work at; they are gifts; the
dream of you was a gift that I cherish more than ever now.
I know it’s selfish, but I wish the lions were here now. There were two of the them in my dream.
could share one of them with you. One for you and one for me.
does the stuff we dream up come from? I wouldn’t say these dreams
come from myself because my first important dream, the Lion Dream,
happened when I was 4 and there is no way I could have made up a
dream as complex as the Lion dream at age 4. I couldn’t understand it
all then, not enough to verbalize it or tell anyone about it. But I
never forgot it.
took me years to unpack it.
dreamed it was the end of the world. I could tell it was the end of
the world because the oceanhad
flooded the city and the sidewalks were bulked into little pyramids.
All the houses were destroyed. The people and animals were gone.
Everything was gray. Except for one house where I was hiding in the
kitchen. The house belonged to a lady named Mary. She had skin the
color of polished mahogany and she had a serious face with a soft
smile. It was her house, her kitchen. There were two giant lions who
padded through the house. I could hear the sound their paws made as
they went through every room checking to make sure no one could see
me. I had been split into many separate versions of myself and I was
hidden in the different cabinets in Mary’s kitchen. The lions made
sure none of my toes were sticking out
guess I still feel that way. Even if I die, I am OK. Even if I die,
if my body dies, there is a light inside of me that cannot be
extinguished, and I know that because I have been so close to death I
have had so many close calls. Woke up in ICU more times than I like
to remember, angry about being there, but glad now, of course. It is
so stupid to want to kill yourself. It is just like walking into the
had this dream the other day about being in the old house on North
Abilene. In the dream, white means pure, garden means life, and
terrycloth means hard work.
was in the bathroom of the old house on North Abilene and I really
had to pee! The room was just like I remembered it and I was a little
apprehensive only because the cellar door was behind the bathtub and
it always gave me the creeps.
noticed water gushing out of the water faucet in the bathtub, so I
got up and struggled a little to get it turned off. The water was
clear and clean; it was very cold.
the water was off, I noticed a lady in the bathtub. I didn’t
recognize her and thought it was weird to have a stranger bathing in
grandma’s tub. Her bathwater was all milky from having used so much
headed toward the door (at a casual pace which means I wasn’t scared)
and she got out of the water and put on a clean, white, terry cloth
turned and asked her, “Are you a ghost?”
She said. “But you are.” Weird,
this wasn’t a dream, but it has a ghost in it, so it counts.
time when I was in Jr High, we had moved to Roswell. We moved a lot
back then. I went to school and everyone looked at me like they’d
seen a ghost. I was freaked out. Apparently, some rumor was going
I had been killed in a car accident.
I was killed in an empty swimming pool fiasco.
way, according to rumor, I was dead, and they were shocked to see me
was shocked to see how shocked they were to see me; I saw the ghost
they saw. I walked over my own grave! Shiver.
I was 12, people thought I was a witch because I was very
observant, and I read a lot of weird books. My family was strange.
had to move out of town. We moved to a house in the country. It was
one of the worst times in our lives. But it holds some of the
happiest memories as well.
who was too young to have four little children, was also very lovely.
She’d gather wild sunflowers, dry them and winnow them on a blanket
in the sun. Then she baked the tiny seeds into loaves of sourdough
bread. She baked them in soup cans so that each of her four children
could have their own loaf of bread. Sourdough, government cheese,
tiny sunflower seeds, hot from the oven with fresh butter.
we didn’t care when the truck loads of cowboys rode by shouting
“Witch and Whore!” We just made signs in the air at them.
made me so angry the other day I thought I was going to explode. But
I moved back here because I love her, and I want to repair our
relationship. There is enough hate in the world, enough turmoil. I
want to do what I can to make peace. I wanted you to understand.
remembered that day at the winnowing blanket. I made this chant and I
have been singing it ever since. Not just for us, but for every
mother and daughter, and really, for all of us all over the planet.
Listen, I want you to hear it, Nick.
children honor you
all have troubles
have burdened us
us gather, then
the winnowing blanket
we can separate
good seeds from the chaff
let the playful breeze
away what we don’t need
leave us something good
feed our creativity
us be the peace that this whole world needs
sunshine mother let us be at peace, let us be at peace.
love my mother with all my heart. She taught me to talk to
grasshoppers and to see the world in a drop of water.
almost killed me; we’ve had our problems.
are never finished learning.
wish you could see that.
DAMMIT Nick! Your last words to me were “If you have her in your
life, I can’t have you in mine!” And then YOU DIED! That is so not
fair! That is so not fair. How can you say that I can’t have my own
mother? I love my mother. I need my mother. And I need my son! I need
you BOTH. How could you say those words to me and then die?
know. I know. Of course, you didn’t know when you said it that those
would be your last words to me. If we could pick our last words, they
would be different, right? We would pick funny last words. Let’s
think, what would yours be? Oh, I know! You’d quote what’s his
Watts. You would, say, “Molecular structure ain’t nothin’ but a
thing.” And I would probably say something from Bill Burr. Oh,
yeah. I’d say, “But [Nick], I just want to look at ya.”
If only we could choose our last words.
One neurologist explained that there are four stages of sleep, and that when most people get to stage four, they dream. But when you get to stage four, you have seizures. That is a pretty fucked up deal if you ask me. I am really sorry, Nick. I don’t care if I have to take you to fifty thousand doctors, I will keep trying to find someone who can help you. I am sorry, but 20 seizures a day is unacceptable. I can’t believe that one doc said, “Well at least he doesn’t have to wear a helmet.” Fuck that shit!
I remember walking you to the bus on the first day of kindergarten. You had on a He Man tank top and Red shorts. You had a He Man lunch box. You were holding my hand. You said, “Mom, I don’t want to have seizures.” When you were 7 we went for a ride in the country in New Mexico with your grandma and great grandmother. There was a small herd of buffalo beside the road and I said “Look, Nick! Buffalo! They were almost extinct at one time.” You said, “I know. I can smell ‘em from here.”
When we were waiting for your sister, Hailie to be born, your favorite book was Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel Dig the Panama Canal. Somehow you got things mixed up, probably because I was always talking about your sister being born and one day you told me that when you grew up you wanted to work in the birth canal.
You were dark. You wore your heavy metal, bloody gore and skulls and devils, your zombies and death themes; you defended darkness and when I asked you why, you waited to answer.
It was the end of a long day. You asked in a humble way, “Did you ever think that some of us had to choose the darker way so that the rest of you could shine? If there was no night, how would you see the stars?”
I was silent, for once in my loud life.
Your first cozy bedtime toy was a truck– not a soft truck. You had to have a Six Million Dollar Man truck tucked under your arm before you’d go to sleep.
You published a book of photography and a novel and you published three excellent cd’s.
You were talented and not enough people got to know your work.
You died alone in your apartment.Well, you were not completely alone. Jane was there.
But your last words to me were, “If you are going to have her in your life, I can’t have you in mine. She is poison. She will hurt you and I can’t stand by and watch it happen.”
You didn’t want me to move in with my mother, but I felt like it was the right thing to do.
I felt like you needed the space, like I was cramping your style being right next door.
You said you wouldn’t talk to me anymore, so when you didn’t pick up the phone, I thought you were just angry.
Days went by. Then a week and I was worried.
The police called. Even now, a year later, the March wind stirs sand into miniature dust devils on the patio. It steals my breath; I gasp for air.
It is not fair. To love one person, to try to repair one relationship and lose another forever.
To never hear you laugh at something Bill Burr says, it just sucks.
But when I despair, I feel you kick me. You kicked me in the shins under the table at the La Paz that day, on your Breath Day.
No, really, I swear, you kicked me in the shins under the table at the restaurant.
I was talking to my friend about not knowing what to do without you and I felt you kick me in the shins! But it doesn’t hurt to get kicked by a beam of light, so it made me laugh.
You wanted me to know you are right here with me, just in a different way now.
I can still hear you play your guitar while you wait for the green flare at sunset.
You told me why you play your guitar while watching the sunset every day. You said there is an old myth that sailors tell that if you see a green flare in the rays of the setting sun you will see the face of you worst enemy. You were convinced it would be your own face you would see. But you kept watching.
You liked hearing my crazy dreams.
I can still see you shake your head and stare at the air when I’d tell you one.
You’d say, “You should write those down, someone might want to hear them someday.” “Yeah, right, In your dreams.” I laughed.
I started taking pills early that day so I wouldn’t throw up. Esther stayed with me and I listened to Dougie Maclean until I passed out. Then she called 911.
I saw the kids coming in the door, or it may have been the EMT’s. Actually, they came in at the same time. That is the last thing I remember before waking up in ICU.
Let me tell you, suicide is not always about feeling sad. In my case, yes, I was horribly depressed, but that is NOT why I thought I had to kill myself. I thought I had to get myself out of the picture in order to give my kids a chance to live a normal life. I felt like I was such a horrible person, even though I didn’t know of anything I had actually done wrong, that I needed to die. I thought that because I had a history of abuse and depression that is would just fall off of me like a contaminate onto everyone around me. I assumed suicide would clean up the toxic waste.
It is not that I didn’t love you; It is because I loved you so much that I thought I had to die. I know it doesn’t make sense and that is because it is a sick thought. It is the thought of a sick person. I was certainly not in my right mind and I am very sorry you had to suffer through my depression with me. I loved you more than anything in the world and everything I did, everything I fought for was for you. But I fought the wrong battles. I didn’t know what I was doing.
I did make things a little better than they were for my siblings and I, but not much.
The spiral goes round and round and we keep trying to move to higher ground.
I didn’t want to write about suicide. But Granny Bisset died this morning. She was in her 90’s. She tried to commit suicide when her husband died many many years ago and fortunately she was unsuccessful, so you kids got to spend a lot of good years getting to know her.
Life is hard; it hurts to be human. But there are ways to prepare for the storms and I am just barely learning them now that I am almost 60. Nick has already gone to the next realm, but here the rest of us are in this one. I just wish I could gather you up, gather you in, call Nick to the shoreline where he could hear me and say, “I’m sorry! I wasn’t ready then. But I’m ready for the storm. I can help you, help us all. I’m stable. I’m okay. I love you.”
“How dare you say such a thing! You are just a flower, not a woman. You
can’t have any idea what it is like to be flesh and blood like me, to
feel passion and pain so intense you think you will die from it. So shut
up! Do not speak in fragrant whispers of the moonlight you bathed in
last night. I am like twisted wire with all my nerves on edge and you
are full of sap and green; how could you know a thing about being me?”
Right now I look like a human being. But I am no more human, or should I say only human, or always and forever human because someday I could be the stuff that makes up these sunflowers, or this sky, or any aspect of this garden. We all live and breathe together. Be still a moment, here, with me, in this magical space. You inhaled the scent of hyacinth and lavender, fresh grass and the happy earth, growing eager roots, busy with earth worms bringing air where it’s needed in the dark. The garden is part of you. And you and I, we are made of the stars you are wishing upon this very night! Why does it surprise you, then, when I tell you I want to be like the milky way, only tiny, the size of a flower in a garden like this. And you would discover me and paint me along with all my brothers and sisters. It could happen, you know. And someday, a woman with gray hair would sit on the side of her bed in the dead of winter and write a poem about us. She would swear she could smell the garden and feel the soft prickle of the sunflower stem.
She would look at the the sky and the scent of hyacinth would make her cry. She is really human, only human, especially tonight, with a tiny- twinkling-spiraling galaxy in the petal of one eye.