Joni Mitchell. Songwriter, singer, painter, philosopher, and the artist that brought me back to who I was after my daughter Alex took her own life. Lyrics so poignant that when planning the funeral, her song "The Circle Game" popped into my head out of no where and became the theme song for Alexandra's life video.
As a mom, your entire life and identity shifts as soon as they lay that baby in your arms. All that you were, all that you thought so important, and so real to your young hippie soul has now been tossed into protecting, loving, and caring for this small creature that you are now responsible for. Twenty seven years of living my new identity of mom gone in a flash. Now what? Who am I without my child? My therapists and others keep telling me that I now live the 'new normal". What the hell is that? Where did the free spirited, hopeful hippie chick, braless artist with a frizzy perm go?
So, I reintroduced my "new normal" to Joni Mitchell. She brings me home to me. Court and Spark, Joni's 7th recording was my staple of music in 1976. I was attending art school and was for once seriously considering falling in love, having sex, doing drugs, and rockin and rollin. Wow - whole new world. She was my hero and rock of courage to explore this new brave me. Joining in my brave new world was Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield, James Taylor, The Doors, Genesis, Al Stewart, Jefferson Airplane and all of Joni's other amazing recordings. Listening to these tunes several months after losing Ally helped me to remember that I was once Terri, cool chick, braless chick (much to my mother's dismay) with goals, ambitions, passions and desires. All those traits that fade when you lose a child, let alone aging. In search of me after this tragedy, I hungered for hearing these tunes, find my new passions, set my new goals and realize new normal.
It's hard to see anything past your nose when a death of someone close occurs, especially a child...an only child. Nothing matters. Hobbies die. Passions die. Goals fade into darkness. Energy is what you need to just get up, dress up and show up to your responsibilities that you still have because life goes on. Truly the harshest reality of all when grieving. Joni said it best:
"Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game"
It's not that I want to revisit the past. Most positive thinkers will say don't look back, look ahead and keep moving. That's all well and good, but looking back has helped me to remember who Terri Boyd is/was.....because all I have now is me, childless me. The mom role no longer is part of me, and believe me, it was THE most important part of me for 27 years.
With the help of Joni Mitchell, I have rediscovered a few passions that my young self embraced. Ice skating is one of those passions. With great enthusiasm and verve, I recently purchased a fab pair of Riedel ice skates. Visions of my old Terri twirling, jumping, spinning and feeling the breeze on my face as I swiftly skate perfect back crossovers made me smile. Reality ---good Lord, where's the side wall. It took a while to get my skating legs and nerve back, but damn they did! And then, whammy, I had shoulder surgery. Much to my dismay, my doctor, family and partner clearly told me NO ice skating. More setbacks on my journey to recapturing my youth and Terri Boyd spirit.
But damnit, I will skate again. I will recapture that youthful spirit. I will go braless, wear holy jeans, frizz out my hair and totally freak out my perfectly dressed and dignified mother. She'll be happy to see me again.