What a semester it has been. Half way through I picked up a virus and a couple of days later found myself dialing 000 for an ambulance thinking that I was having a heart attack. Scary stuff! I first noticed I was getting run down when driving home one day I missed my turn off on the hwy by 20 mins. It was a strange feeling. How could I be so vague? Was I losing my mind? It freaked me out a little bit. The next day whilst at the fruit and vege shop buying things to juice (health is first after all) i was overcome with a feeling of faintness, I felt very hot and thought I was about to pass out. The fruitier noticed and offered to carry my bags for me. "I'll be right", I said and sat down for a minute whilst I regathered my strength. I came straight home and went to bed. That was Saturday. On Monday I visited the GP who suspected I had influenza and she ran some blood tests. I was laying in bed resting two days later still awaiting results, trying to get better because I'd booked a crew for a film shoot that night to capture video footage for my song, 'It's all about you', when I noticed my heart beat racing. I was short of breath and experiencing chest pain. I measured my pulse and it was up above 140bpm. I got straight on the iphone and googled my symptoms 'HEART ATTACK' flashed up like the bright lights of Vegas. When the ambulance arrived they seemed concerned that this may be the case based on my symptoms and blood pressure, pulse, oxygen level etc. Once in emergency and after a blood test for enzymes, a chest xray, and ECG and an ultrasound echo of my heart the doctor seemed quite certain I had Viral Pericarditis. "What is the hell is that?" I responded ans soon learnt that the heart is protected by a sack known as the pericardium which protects it from infection. Sometimes when the body is attacked by a virus, the immune system gets over active and inflames the pericardium. A virus it turns out is very clever and difficult for the immune system to fight. I stayed in hospital overnight for observation and was sent home the next day with ibuprofen tablets to bring down the inflammation. I was told it can take up to 3 months to fully recover. This was all very overwhelming at the time. I was mid way through my semester at SAE, I was meant to be helping my darling mum move, whom herself was struggling with COPD or Emphysema as it is more commonly called. Bad timing! Around the same time my barometer, inherited from my maternal Grandfather broke and was permanently pointing to rain no matter what beautiful cloudless blue sky day it was.
The first week was all rest and bed and watching TV series and movies. I watched all seasons of 'Entourage' from start to finish. Not having a TV myself since 9/11, i had a lot of catching up to do. I had to cancel gigs and my teaching work, which for me was very difficult. i get such a sense of purpose and self actualization from doing both. One of the benefits from being an artist is that you are filled with purpose to get out of bed everyday and work passionately toward your dreams and visions of beauty and meaning. Nietzsche said, "Given a why, a man can endure any how" - I believe in this. When we know why it is we must struggle or work hard, when their is a deep felt and meaningful connection to our inner drive then we are truly motivated. for this reason I believe in following one's heart and being true to callings of one's very own weirdness.
Let me just clarify what I mean by weirdness here.
I like to look up words in the dictionary, words I think I know the meaning of and read their often poetically written definitions. It's absolutely beautiful and inspiring for me at times. I have both a complete Webster and a complete Oxford Dictionary and really enjoy reading both. 'Weird' I discovered refers not only to the uncanny but to fate and destiny itself. Shakespeare jumped on this with his Wyrd Sisters in his play Macbeth. The Wyrd Sisters are based on the Moirai of Greek Mythology or as they are also known, the three sisters of Fate. These three sisters would weave together the tapestry of every single human soul's destiny. According to the mythology not even the Gods themselves could undo what the sisters weaved. So to be weird it seems is to be true to ones fate or destiny. No two fates are the same, not even identical twins...anyway so this is the weirdness to which I am referring above.
Anyway I digress......
So weeks turned into months and still I'm recovering. Every time I thought I was getting better I'd go do a gig or spend a day teaching and end up back i bed. I even ended up back in hospital 3 more times. Hospitals are sad and meaningful places. I shared a room with a man who passed surrounded by his family after being read his last rights. It was so deep and so beautiful to there in that most sacred of spaces. On another stay i shared a room with a 22 year old young man who had down irreparable damage to his heart after a night on cocaine. We're so so vulnerable as humans. How thin that line between this world and the next.
But yeah hospitals...... I swore to myself I wouldn't be back in one till it was for the birth of my first child. How wrong that hope turned out to be.
Anyway so on and on I struggled, changing medications, trying everything to no avail and then 2 weeks ago I received a call to let me know my Mum was in emergency struggling for her life. A complication due to her COPD. She passed away peacefully two days later. What a whirlwind it has been - i tell you what. So the point to this post? Well I guess something about the psycho-somatic - and again let's clarify that.... a lot of us, myself include assume psycho-somatic means imagined or not real somehow, when in fact it simply refers to the relationship our mind has to our bodies. I believe, though this is not scientific that my pericarditis, the inflammation of my pericardium that protects my heart, was caused somehow by intuitively knowing my mum would soon be passing. I was protecting my heart from the inevitable break it must now endure. So much to learn about what Jung referred to as the Collective Unconscious. The morning of mum's passing many friends awoke around 4am feeling sick. Somehow they themselves had felt her leave.
RIP Maree Annette Jans
Here is the Eulogy I wrote for her. We buried her on Friday on top of her Son and my Brother Paul. May they now rest in peace together forever.
"Only the good die in August"
My son Paul
My father Jack
And of course she too went in August
Marked by majesty
Dignity and the such
Shocked and struck with the horror and terror of mortality
That sweetest and most startlingly beautiful flower
That takes our breath away every day
Till we can breathe no more
And so shall August forever be
The moon of angels
Maree Annette Jans
What can we say about such a unique character? Have words yet even been invented to describe such incommensurable human beauty? Some kind of diamond she was , rough and beautiful. A peoples person. She loved a chat. She would chew your ear off if you gave her the time of day. It wouldn't matter what walk of life you were from, what age you were, or what you looked like, oh and she would always call you "love". She had a heart of gold and an unparalleled generosity. She'd give you the clothes off her back or the chair she was sitting on if she thought you needed it; and wouldn't take no for an answer. She was always putting other people before herself right to the very end, not wanting to put anyone out and sorry for causing any worry or fuss. She was always there for you if you had a problem or a broken heart. She loved helping others. "People are worth more than possessions" she say in her street smart way. She loved people. The only thing she loved more than people were her dogs. "Dogs are the best people" she'd say in that husky voice of hers.
She loved her family: - her aunts and uncles, she was always talking about them as though they were saints and angels. She thought her uncle Warwick was a movie star and Aunty Thelma and Aunty Kath were like her second mums. Her Aunty Imelda - a great friend. Her cousins Di and Barb , Kevin, Ray, Geoffrey, Maureen and Lynette more like sisters and brothers. Her brother in laws and sister in laws too she thought of as actual brothers and sisters, "Alan Bayliss understands me love" she'd say. Her nephews and their children she adored and kept photos of them around her always and then Julie!!!! her niece, and Julie's two girls Mel and Bec , Oh how Maree's face just lit up when ever she talked about them.
Her friends though also, she thought of as family- Irene another second mum, Barbara and Jenny close sisters, Peter her good friend and carer loyal to the end putting up with her bossing him around.
Maree was heartfelt, sincere and deeply compassionate. She was outraged every New Year's Eve when as a nation we'd spend money on fireworks whilst we still had people homeless on the streets. She'd yell and swear at the TV set and when she'd calm down she'd say, "Family's have to look after each other, we've got to look after our own and then nobody would be homeless!"
And that's why she'd be so wrapped to see her whole family here together today.
She loved to tell stories , she was prone to exaggeration, and was a bit of a braggart too. Her sister Pam , she said"could've been a world famous fashion designer" . Her mum "should've been a famous singer", her younger sister Pauline was her rock and go to person if she needed something really done, how she admired and bragged of Pauline's strength.
Her father Jack, well .....he was just too perfect in her eyes, she idolized him and imitated him in just so many ways and missed him so so much. Her son Paul- her Prince, "could've been anything he wanted" in her eyes- (she never got over that loss- it literally ripped her womb from her body) - her son Andrew......don't get her started on his grossly exaggerated achievements!
She was a mum!
.......that was her greatest attribute - to all the "kids" as she would call them (all the friends of her two boys and all the strays she picked up along the way) they were the "kids" - even once they were in their 40's with children of their own, still she'd call them the "kids". She was like a second mum to so many, and always trying to help.
But let's not make an angel of her- coz she certainly wasn't any angel. She was human in every way- she showed us the best and the worst of this whole damned beautiful thing. She loved to smoke and drink and curse and laugh and cry and celebrate life, (mostly at the same time) ......so much so in fact it got her into trouble. Her good looks got her into trouble too. Every gift is a burden and every burden is a gift. "We've all got our cross to bear " she would say.
Sometimes it seems she even looked for trouble such was the cheekiness in her smile and the glint in her eye.
Oh and she could be nasty too, real nasty, oh she could say some down right horrible things, regrettable things, the devil had her tongue at times....but you can sure whatever nasty things she said to anyone else that she was hardest of all on herself; too hard in fact.
So she showed us her vulnerability too - human, all too human!!!
She displayed all the colours in the rainbow of what it is to be a human being.
But let's celebrate a woman who loved to celebrate- it was her love of cigarettes that killed her. She smoked those holidays like they were a holiday.
She was passionate. She was spiritual , who doesn't remember having their tarot cards read by her at some point? And she was always spot on. Eerie! She was intuitive. She'd always call when something had happened - as if she already knew. She was loyal. She was stubborn. She loved so deeply. Her heart broke many times because she loved so deeply and herein lies the message of her life for all of us, "we're here for such a short time, live your passions, love deeply, even when it breaks you into pieces, speak your truth even when it's not the right thing to say, be who you are even if that makes you a weirdo and above all take care of one another" they were her last words, "take care of each other and be happy" "I'm happy" she said, just before she drifted into her final sleep. "I'm happy" - so with all the tears we know she cried for all her losses and all the heartbreaks she went through, still somehow she was happy and she wished the very same for all of us - so be happy, oh and check your lotto tickets apparently she's sending us all the winner.