Uneasy Death

I suddenly remembered what it was like to die in bed of natural causes, except I don’t remember what life it was. Couldn’t have been Phil (comatose) or Jack (instantaneous), but I don’t think it was Count William (though he did die in bed) and I suspect it wasn’t James (probably drowned). Maybe it was my 18th century life in the colonies? Or perhaps it was that life somewhere in Central Europe that I dreamed vividly about, the one where I was an old man on my death bed in a house that I loved, round about the 17th century. I guess it could have been a life I haven’t recalled yet.

It was a sense memory. Deep fatigue, fatigue like I’d never felt while living. A burning in my chest as every breath became an effort; that was the most prominent sensation.  You know how people who have near-death experiences describe how they were able to just let go and it was a huge relief?  That’s how it felt, like it was easier to let go than keep going.  But I kept going anyway. I tried to stay, tried to live on, I didn’t want to die. But I was so very, very tired. My mind was already shutting down. I couldn’t keep going though my last thoughts were of how much I wanted to. I guttered away as I lost my grip.  It probably seemed peaceful to those watching but I wasn’t ready for it, mentally.

I always figured dying that way would be so much easier, but I suppose if you’re so attached that you can’t let go until fatigue gets you, then maybe it’s just as bad as if you die running for your life.

This is heavy… wish I could remember when this was and what kind of life I’d lived up to that point. Was I clinging to life because I loved someone or something? Or was I clinging to life because I was afraid I’d go to hell for the things I’d done?  Or maybe I simply clung to life because I was afraid of the unknown, afraid of leaving certainty.  That’s a common attitude in the last 400 years, isn’t it?  Certainty is praised, and uncertainty is abhorred, but when it comes to the great leap into death, we aren’t certain of anything except losing the apparatus for interacting with this material plane and forming certain kinds of judgments that are impossible in an ethereal state.  Death is significant, as major transitions go.

But some people are more ready than others, and there’s usually a good reason why they’re especially anxious about it.  What was mine?  That question’s going to haunt me now.

Checking In

Just wanted to check in briefly.

I find that although I hate my job, it’s been helpful.  Every day the war gets more distant though it’s still there.  I expect I’ll be about as healed as I’ll ever be once I’ve had a chance to travel to Flanders and France and pay respects so that will still be a likely end to this blog.

Already, it’s winding down.  The memories of anything before this life are rare now.  I expect I’ll still have some difficult days but they’ve gotten fewer.

 

Good News, But Maybe Not For Long

To my regular readers, please pardon my absence.  Lately, present-life issues- among them my spiking gender dysphoria- have been taking center stage.

I just got word that my pre-GRS electrolysis has been approved by my health plan, after almost a year of waiting.

The electrolysis is absolutely necessary, to prevent hair growing in places it oughtn’t once the surgery is complete (which can lead to infection among other things). However, OHP has treated it like an optional procedure in the past, then they decided that they’d only approve it if a doctor performed it (this isn’t performed by doctors, ever). Then they decided they’d only cover half-hour sessions when one hour sessions were necessary.

But now it’s down to a game of phone tag. I’ll keep trying to get in touch with the specialist who will be doing the procedure and soon, I’ll have an appointment set.

Once I begin electrolysis, we’re looking at 9-12 months before I can get my surgery. I’m extremely concerned that a Trump presidency (and the resultant dismantling of Obamacare) will pull the rug out from under me again in what has been a nightmarishly complicated process. I currently make about $1100 a month and at the end of the pay period I hardly have enough to put in savings, so paying for the surgery out of pocket is laughably out of reach. Trump’s “health savings accounts” require you to have money coming in to begin with, which I suppose is fine if you earn more than $30K a year, but will generally be useless to those of us who don’t have a lot to put in savings.

I’m also concerned that once my company health insurance kicks in I might lose OHP and end up with a plan (like the one I had with Portland State) that requires me to pay a $5000-8000 copay for the surgery.

In other words, I’m not out of the woods yet. I’m pretty much at the mercy of my employer, the state of Oregon, and whoever wins the election. I feel frustrated and helpless despite moving forward ever so slightly.

A Loss, A Gain, And I’m A Wreck

Life has become an emotional roller coaster of late.

I’d already had a really bad week, and then I found out today that one of the senior members of our church, a much-beloved older lady, passed away on Monday.

I had last seen her a day before she died, and I can’t say I’m surprised.  She had been in ill health for a long time and had suffered a silent heart attack not too long ago. By last Sunday, she was breathing slowly, seemed wan and pale, and complained that she hadn’t had much of an appetite.  I knew from seeing her that she was gravely ill.  She even described herself as such.  But she did come to mass, despite blacking out several times during the service.

Still, it hit hard. She was fast becoming like a grandmother to me.  I wear her old cassock when I serve at the altar.  I shared a lot of things with her, including past lives.  She even helped me buy some new shoes when I was still broke and between jobs.  She only missed mass once in the time I’ve been at this church, and that was more than a month ago; she managed to make it to one more at the very end.

I sincerely hope she is not cursed to return to this world.  Reunion with the Light is the only thing I could hope for such a soul as hers.

Then I got an e-mail this evening from Encyclopedia Britannica.  They’ve seen the quality of my scholarly work on Longespee and they want me to contribute.  What strange, awkward, and emotionally draining timing they chose for this.

No Such Luck

Wouldn’t you know it?

The HEMA school I was interested in either re-scheduled their Achille Marozzo classes to Tuesday nights, or I misread their schedule multiple times over the course of over a year chomping at the bit to take this course.

Either way my fiance and I didn’t get to go.

We went downtown instead.  We stopped at a big record store over on Burnside where I bought a couple of things (a compilation album of short works by Ralph Vaughan-Williams and a box set of Hector Berlioz’ Grand Messe des Morts, which figures into the novel I’m working on, along with a record cleaning kit).

Then we went out for burritos and came home.  I’m listening to that box set of the opera Aida I bought the other day right now.  It sounds magnificent for a used album pressed in 1962 and left to languish in a thrift shop.  Definitely an asset to my collection.

Longsword

Tomorrow, I’m going to a HEMA school in the southwest of Portland to see if I’m up to learning longsword technique.

The technique they teach is actually Achille Marozzo’s 16th century longsword technique, though Marozzo did preserve a lot of information from earlier eras.

I’m not getting my hopes up about becoming especially good at this since I’m about 8 centuries out of practice and in a very different body, but I’ve been burning with curiosity about HEMA since the early 2000s.  Now I finally get to try it, and I’m very excited.

Incidentally, at least one of my friends into HEMA remembers a medieval past life too.  I guess once a knight is never enough.

Losing My Soul

I have to admit something: I’m losing my soul to fear, like so many people are these days. Mine is second-hand fear- the kind that fearful people instill in others by hostile words and actions- but it is no less toxic. Just like second-hand cigarette smoke, it can eat away at you.

I’m losing my soul wondering how long before insane politicians and their hate-filled followers decide I’m inconvenient to them.

I’m losing my soul contemplating whether to flee the country or arm up for a fight that might never come.

I’m losing my soul questioning the value of free speech in the wake of so many people yelling “fire” in the proverbial theater.

And one day, if I were to wake up a soulless, seething mass of hate like millions of others, who can I really blame but myself?

I couldn’t stop the reactionaries from blowing smoke, but I didn’t have to inhale their hate second-hand and react to it like I’ve done.

And I speak in such glowing terms about how I want to enter the clergy and be above it all! No. Old habits die hard.

I once thought those who found solace from their bad habits in faith were tragic people. I still think that, even though I’m one of those people now.