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  • Writer's pictureelmarfleet

May: Together Again

Updated: Jun 21, 2021

"There are times when I look above and beyond

There are times when I feel your love around me, baby

I'll never forget my baby

I'll never forget you..."

This song takes me back to 1997 and those carefree days of being at university. Life with little responsibilities and a lot of fun. You can't help but move to the beat of this up-tempo dance song and I like it that I can hear Janet smiling through the words she sings. But alone in my kitchen this year, I stop and pay attention to her words when the song comes on the radio, and I realise that they describe the separation of death. Janet is singing about love and loss, and of the certainty that she feels of being together again one day.

"... Everywhere I go, every smile I see

I know you are there, smilin' back at me

Dancin' in moonlight, I know you are free

'Cause I can see your star shining down on me.

(Together again, oooh)

Good times we'll share again

(Together again, oooh)

Makes me wanna dance

(Together again, oooh)

Say it loud and proud

(Together again, oooh)

All my love's for you..."

I learn from a google search that Janet originally wrote this song as a ballad before it was rearranged into a dance track. Her inspiration came from two places, from her own personal experience of the loss of a friend and from the story of a young fan from England who wrote to her about the loss of his father. I search for 'Janet Jackson Together Again ballad' and find a beautiful video recorded in 2019 called The Deeper Remix. Janet sings so tenderly and the African Savannah of the 90s dance track is replaced by the simplicity of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. This image suits the tenderness of Janet's voice and her lyrics so much better and I like the song so much more.

"... Dream about us together again

What I want, is together again, baby

I know we'll be together again..."

The idea that I will be together with Tom again one day is comforting but it's not a certainty and I can't comprehend yet what form this could take. Religions tell us how it will be but it's belief and faith with only stories as evidence. It is something human beings can never know for sure and that is why the words also feel so fragile like the unfurling of the butterfly's wings in the video. It takes all my strength to look deeper inside myself for those words and feelings when I need them, but I do dream that we'll be together again and that is comforting.

"... Sometimes hear you whisperin'

No more pain

No worries will you ever see now, baby

I'm so happy for my baby..."

There is a struggle inside the thoughts of surviving partners who have lost the love of their life due to a tragic illness. I know how much cancer took from him and even though I don't like the term 'battle', in many ways it was a horrific battle with the cancer that grew inside him. So I like the idea that Tom could be, "dancin' in the moonlight" and I know that he is now "free". Free of pain. Free of cancer. Free. And that's a good feeling. I wanted so much for him to be free of cancer and free of pain, but I didn't want that to mean that I was left free of him. So I tell myself to, "look deeper inside" because I can't change this but I can change how I think and react to it. The genius of Charlie Mackery, as the Mole tells the Boy: "One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things."

"... When I feel that I don't belong

Draw my strength

From the words when you said

Hey, it's about you, baby

Look deeper inside you, baby..."

There are many many times and spaces now when I feel like I don't belong. Everything changes in widowhood and it's hard to realise that I'm now the missing piece in a jigsaw of my own life. I don't 'fit' anymore. All that I understood and enjoyed of life has been thrown high into the air and the pieces have now landed haphazardly, upside down, back to front, in a general mess and I don't know how to put it back together. Perhaps I should take it a piece at a time, perhaps I should let it be or perhaps I should start a completely new one. The reality is that I'm standing in the middle of the mess holding 2 precious pieces that I will never let go of. One is of Tom. The other is of the boys. These pieces fit together, they are central to the puzzle of my life. I just don't know what the new picture will look like.

"... Always been a true angel to me, now above

I can't wait for you to wrap your wings around me, baby..."

Wings again. The wings of Janet's butterfly emerging delicately from its chrysalis, the wings of an angel, and David Almond's idea that shoulder blades are, "where your wings were, and where they'll grow again." You only need to watch a bird in the sky to see why wings have represented a freedom from the pain of human life to poets, artists and storytellers from the beginning of time. Doris Strickney uses the story of a dragonfly to explain death of a loved one to children in her book: Waterbugs and Dragonflies. Explaining death to Sam as a 3-year-old was incredibly hard and 23 months on, I don't find it any easier. All he has to know is that Daddy has died and that he's not coming back, but I know that he will feel his loss more deeply and intensely as he grows older. In Strickney's story, the waterbugs (nymphs) live a busy life, "scurrying over the soft mud on the bottom of the pond". They begin to "notice that every once in a while one of their colony seemed to lose interest in going about with its friends. Clinging to the stem of a pond lily, it gradually moved out of sight and was seen no more." The story follows one of the waterbugs as he begins to climb up the lily stalk: "Up, up, up he went. Before he knew what was happening, he had broken through the surface of the water and fallen onto the broad, green lily pad above." After a well earned rest, he notices a startling change to his body and with an impulse to move his new wings, he realises he has become a dragonfly and sets off to happily explore his, "wonderful new world of sun and air." Strickney tells us that whilst the waterbugs wonder what has happened to their loved one, they are unable to break through the surface of the water, and equally for the dragonflies, they become unable to go back to the soft muddy world from which they had come from the bottom of the pond. I've bought a colouring book version of this story and will colour some of the pages with Sam this month to give him time to process its explanation of death. Perhaps we'll see this year's first dragonfly this month. I will make sure I take time to watch it and think about how its life has transformed from where it can no longer return.

"... What I'd give just to hold you close as on earth

In heaven we will be together, baby

(Be together)

Together again, my baby

(Together again, my baby."

Janet Jackson

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