Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Mercy of the Fallen

"The Mercy of the Fallen"
Oh my fair North Star
I have held to you dearly
I have asked you to steer me
Til one cloud scattered night
I got lost in my travels
I met Leo the Lion
Met a king and met a giant, with their errant knight

There's the wind
And the rain
And the mercy of the fallen
Who say they have no claim
To know what's right
There's the weak
And the strong
And the beds that have no answers
And that's where I may rest my head tonight

I saw all the bright people
In imposing flocks they landed
And they got what they demanded
And they scratched at the ground
Then they flew, and the field
Grew as sweetly for the flightless
Who had longing yet despite this
They could hear every sound

There's the wind
And the rain
And the mercy of the fallen
Who say they have no claim
To know what's right

If your sister or your brother were stumbling on their last mile
In a self-inflicted exile
Wish for them a humble friend
And I hope someday that the best of Falstaff's planners
Give me seven half-filled manors
Where half-dreams may dream
Without end

There's the wind
And the rain
And the mercy of the fallen
Who say, "Hey, it's not my place
To know what's right"
There's the weak
And the strong
And the many stars that guide us
We have some of them inside us

-Dar Williams


Six years ago, I was living in a bedroom I rented in a condo in Alexandria, Virginia. I had two male roommates who I barely ever spoke to in the condo. I barely ever left the condo. When I did leave it was to do desperate things to make money or to go to a doctor or a hospital, and that was all. Many weeks I ate a pizza I ordered and never bought food from a store. I had no car, because after I lost the keys and the car was not running properly, it was towed away, and I didn't have the money to get it back from the place it was towed to. So I lost my car. I had few friends, and none of them lived near me. I did go to protests against war, and those occasions provided happy moments, but mostly, I was alone, shut off from the world, miserable, confused by psychosis, and in pain. I was lost.

I had developed my symptoms in the years before that year and I had become estranged from my family due to my delusional beliefs that people had sexually abused me, and the accusations I made because of those beliefs. I lived 45 minutes from dozens of family members, yet, I never contacted them and they never contacted me. My father was not speaking to me, for reasons that I now understand completely. I had no real job. I was physically very sick. I did not know what was wrong with my mind.

I discovered Dar Williams during that time period, and I fell in love with her music. It touched my soul, and made me feel alive again. The song, "Mercy of the Fallen" held special meaning for me, because I felt the line about "if your sister or your brother were stumbling on their last mile in a self inflicted exile" reminded me of my sister and brother and how much I relied in my connection with them to get myself through my hard times.

So, fast forward to today. I went to see Dar Williams at the St. Pete Folk Fest with my brother. My brother has been stumbling through difficult miles recently, and I have been very worried about him. This was the first fun thing we have done together in a very long time. He did not love the music, but I did, and we both liked all the amazing art work on display. I was glad that my brother was in better spirits and in a better place in his life today than he had been recently.

After the folk fest, I went to visit my sister in her brand new apartment. She had been going through some old belongings, like pictures, letters, and photos, that she wanted to show me. She saved letters I wrote her full of sisterly advice, collages I made her while I was in psychiatric hospitals, and many pictures. Looking at those collages I made, and remembering being psychotic, in a psychiatric hospital art room creating those positive affirmations for my sister to increase her self esteem, reminded me of the strength of the bond we share.

I have two brothers and two sisters. My sister and my brother who I am speaking of here are the ones I grew up with. They are the two I helped to raise, and I have always tried to look out for them as well as I could. I have worried about them, and felt the pain of not being able to see them for long lengths of time, and I have been happy to see their accomplishments. I remember those days in those hospitals when I was so very lost and how much I relied on my sister and my brother as reasons to live. During many periods when I was seriously suicidal, it was my sister and my brother who prevented me from killing myself. I didn't want them to have a dead sister. I didn't want to put them through that. And I am alive today, in large part, for that reason.

In closing, I want to say that Dar Williams is awesome, and you should check out her music.

1 comment:

AfricaEden said...

Jennifer, I heard the song "mercy of the fallen" at Borders today. i copied the chorus' lyrics & googled them to c who the singer was. Your blog was the first to pop up. I read your blog above and was very touched. My uncle has schizophrenia as well. No one knows where he is. He checked out of the hospital and was never seen again. It hurts my mother. I'm encouraged by people like you who use their experiences to bless others with acceptance, courage and humility. I pray blessings for you & your family. May God draw people closer to LIFE & TRUTH as they hear your story & your accomplishments. Thanks again!

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