A Once There Was single release will happen on April 20. Fading Hearts will be available at Spotify, Amazon, iTunes, Tidal and a bunch of other places.
(the cottage, 17.30 in the afternoon)
(two photos to show that the temperature inside the cottage wasn't that amazing upon arriving... it got better during the night though)
Death is final in many ways but it shouldn't be for the ones left behind. We should live, embrace the light, do all these things we want to do before our time, too, is up. I am striving to do this.
Still it pains me that there's so much you'll never know. You never got to know that your little girl one day got married. You never got to meet my husband, my best friend, my rock. You never got to know that we're crazy enough to surround ourselves with six furry friends that the both of us love, and I really missed the possibility of phoning you when one of these furry little ones went blind. I missed not being able to tell you about it when I suddenly found this job that I enjoy so much. I miss not having you around during each and every day, and sometimes, when something more important happens in life, that feeling gets so much stronger.
It's been seven years. Seven years during each of which I've missed you tremendously. But life is good. Your daughter has a lot to be happy about, and I know that you, too, would be happy for me.
(About a year later I'm back. I suppose it's this time of the year when these thoughts are so much more present.)
After 1 or 2 luxurious hours of sleep I woke up to my first day without a father. A strange feeling; constant, but also hard to grasp, spent the day with me.
A lot needed to be done during this day. Lots of packing since the house had to be put up for sale. No more would there be a childhood home to return to.
Cleaning out the garage was the worst thing we had to do, my brothers and I. Here, dad had built so much - the hobbyhorses for me and my sister, the dollhouse for my sister, among so many other things. As children my sister and I played endless hours with these items in particular - the hobbyhorses were so well exercised that during a couple of summers, a "riding" track was visible on our front lawn.
And then there was also the miniature railroad my father started building when my older brothers were small and that he wanted to finish eventually. Eventually never came. This object was too large for anyone of us to bring home, so it was picked apart instead.
There are so many things to deal with once somebody dies. What do you even do with all the stuff that person left behind? What use a book in Finnish, a language I don't understand, would have to me perhaps doesn't make much sense but it felt important to keep some of his things around. Little pieces of what once had been his life felt so valuable. Some years later I did throw it away, I guess it had served its purpose by then. I'm still keeping his shirt around though, the one he forgot at my place during his last visit - I did not discover that shirt until some months after his passing. The feeling when I found it. First not recognizing or understanding, then seeing the little hole in the fabric right by the shoulder, remembering how mum had commented on how he hadn't so far agreed on her sewing it... That feeling. More things still remaining in my home are his reading glasses, and the final Christmas gift I bought for him that I had wrapped up but didn't send out before life took this strange turn.
On that first day of not having a father, a phone call came to the childhood home. The autopsy of our father's body was performed. The cause of death was a heart attack. The irony. My father always had the kindest of hearts.
In front of our house, on the cold winter day of December 9th, the bed in which our father died was smashed to pieces by my oldest brothers.
Something I would ponder about later was dad's feelings towards cats.
His last phone call to me, made in the end of November, was about these little creatures. Niklas had two cats, Darwin and Newton, who moved in to my parents when he did. My father was so optimistic when he called, his enthusiasm about these cats was heartwarming. Even before their arrival he looked forward to having them in the house and it seemed to be working out very well. He spoke a lot about them during this final conversation, and I clearly remember him saying how he had always loved cats.
The thing is, when I sorted through some papers and old books of mine a few months after his death, I found this book where a few childhood friends had filled in stuff about themselves. Things like favourite food, favourite music, that kind of stuff. I had asked my dad to fill in one of the pages as well. Two of the questions were about what you love and what you hate. There, with his peculiar handwriting - it really had more character than beauty - he had written "Cats". On the "Things I hate" section. No mixup, since he next to "Cats" had written "War".
Pity, how I never got around to ask him how this made sense if he had always loved cats. :) I'm sure there was an interesting story behind it.
Pity, how many things we never got around to, my father and I.
It was pitch black night when Daniel and I arrived to our childhood home. The deep snow lit up a bit, as did the street lights with their cold gaze. The driveway was fairly free from snow. Perhaps that was one of the final things my father had been up to, I remember thinking. Every once in a while I had dreamt of being able to give my father a snowblower for Christmas to replace the snow showel he used, to spare his aching joints some of the pain. One of many things I would never be able to do now that he would never be again.
Daniel and I stepped into the hallway where we had been so many times before. Everything was different, everything was the same. Dad's winter jacket hung between other jackets, his shoes were on the floor beside other shoes. So many pieces he had left behind.
Our mother, Niklas and his girlfriend were waiting for us. Everything was very still, the surreal feeling very present. It took us some time to go to bed. Things to talk about, to be sad about, before sleep was possible. My mother insisted that I'd sleep with her in her and dad's bedroom.
On dad's side, I couldn't sleep. My mother snored, I couldn't sleep.
After an hour or two I went out to the living room, to the couch where my father had not watched enough movies. Thoughts were bugging me, I couldn't sleep. I cried, I couldn't sleep. Upstairs Niklas was making music, the sounds that came through the ceiling told me he was recording rhythm sections. Good. His way to deal. I wasn't yet sure of mine.
A cat soon appeared in the night, Niklas black, heavy Darwin. He kept me company. Sat on my chest while I laid there crying. He washed away my tears with his weird little cat tongue. Maybe that's why he's a heavy guy, maybe he eats simply everything. He kept me company like this, every night during my stay, cleaning my tears away. And on this first night it might have meant particularly much to me. It took me a long while and a lot of tears, but finally I managed to fall asleep, while the comforting cat remained on my chest.
My oldest brother Daniel and I travelled to Gällivare two hours later. In all the mess and confusion that arose after it was certain our father was dead, our youngest brother had to begin with been contacted by no one. Everybody though that somebody else had been in touch with him already. Our little brother heard the news about an hour later than everyone else. For that I am sorry. We never meant to, little brother. This did not give him time enough to join Daniel and me for the bus trip up north, but he did not miss out on much... It was the most horrible journey I've ever made.
Daniel was sort of hyperactive. His phone rang a lot but obviously not often enough since he also made phone calls and sent text messages ever so often. He was laughing about the weirdness of life and death, and talking almost constantly the first couple of hours, totally wound up. I didn't do much other than cry. I'm not the kind of person to cry in public, but this time I couldn't help it and I didn't care. That's how shattered I was. And my brother kept being wound up. The perfect examples of two completely different forms of shock.
Daniel's best friend came to pick us up at one of the bus stations to give us a ride the remaining 250 km. At least in the past this friend has been known for the habit of arriving either late or even later. I think this was the first time that he was punctual -well, even early, because he was already waiting when the bus arrived. I would find a lot of things moving within the next couple of weeks. This was one of them.
We drove in the dark and cold, slowly approaching our destination. I did not have many tears left at that point, but the few ones remaining showed up every now and then. I remember Daniel and his friend talking but I don't remember what about. Maybe I spoke some words too, I have no idea. My main memory from this trip is the feeling I had while looking out the window, watching the stars.
In January, earlier that same year, I left the town my father lived in. Then, too, I was sitting in the back seat of a car, staring out in the darkness, thinking of how I would miss my father now that I couldn't meet him as often as before. I felt a bit low but I found a little comfort in watching the stars, in particular Ursa Major that is practically the only constellation I remember from the ones my dad once taught me. Both my father and I could look at the same stars, so we were not really that far apart, I remember myself thinking. So, in that thought I found a little comfort.
Now, in the back seat of a car I rode because my father had died, the sight of the stars no longer brought me that feeling. Another kind of emotion was closing in on me. My father would not gaze upon the stars again. He would see nothing, hear nothing, speak nothing, ever again. Maybe the appropriate word for the feeling I had is despair.