On Christmas Eve, I received a text from my best friend letting me know that the first love of my life was dead.
A clenching in my chest attempted to stop the black bile from flowing in. A sharp thought placed a false defensive wall up: it was expected. Yet, a grip can only hold so long and brittleness is washed away with the flood.
Bitterness and sour to discover he’d been dead for awhile. People tried to notify me but it never reached.
I scoured the internet. At first for a death announcement, then for anything. For any remnant of him. I could feel the memory wires reconnecting, waking up.
What happens when your first love dies?
What happens when he takes his life?
What happens when it’s been ten years?
This first few weeks: hysterics. An old energy showed me a quivering rod, a green silhouette, a burning fear. I talked to him & he talked back: in dreams he told me not to worry, that he was at peace. In one he called me & his voice rang true as it did in 2006.
I can’t stand it, not knowing where your souls at
Was that you in the shadows?
Telling me you were at peace?
I started singing to him. I wrote his parents a letter. I did what you can.
He was a musician. We shared music with one another in class: me with my shuffle, him with his red CD player. He gave me ambient music & morbid humor. I gave him photography & I attempted to give him optimism.
I kept singing to him. Things lifted and became bearable.
I can feel you fading out
Have you found your place now?
I talked about it with someone other than a ghost. Guilt and grief were able to writher onto their separate paths. The energy became non-circular.
I made things, for myself & for him. Because I never got that funeral, or an obituary & I needed a place to meditate, to mourn. I put those things in a gallery for other people to see.
What, what would you think of these things?
Would you find them strange?
Would you find them sweet?
Those were the things that Ian was. He was strange and he was sweet. He enjoyed the discomfort and the peculiar. And so, Good Mourning is to honor him and to honor grief.
I make these things so I can grasp
The truth that you are gone at last
I make these things to give you sound
To give you shape, to keep you round
Because you’re gone I sing this song
To give your spirit river round
I make these things to clench control
Over these things I cannot know
You glimmer soft in my own thoughts
I cannot know o’r where you roam
Or is it loud?
Or is it proud?
Or is it meek? Your soul don’t seek?
I make these things to honor you
And all your death it does undo
To listen to the entire Feel Recordings on a separate page, follow this link Feel Recordings
Nicole Biagi – my best friend of 14 years
Chase Bratton – my loving & understanding partner
Jacob Ray Wagner – for listening & sharing
Ilana Zweschi & Kelly Bjork – my studio mates who gave me advice & space
Polina Tereshina – For being the sweetest friend I could have ever asked for
Kyle Turver, Shannon Sigler, Elise Stephens, Aaron Norman, Amy Reese, Serrah Russell, Jason Rens, Emily Nelson – who were the first to make me feel okay about making this work
Sebastian Loo – My studio assistant who helped me immensely
Maxx Yamasaki – For their over-and-beyond help with Shudder
Brooke Eide, Megan Brady, Brittany Amborn – For giving me an escape every week during Bachelor night <3
Julia Greenway – For being a general badass but also for the fabric donations
Rachael Lang/Frye Art Museum – For donations of fabric
SOIL – for allowing its members to do these solo shows uninhibited. An extra thanks to the members who gave me comfort & advice.
Friends & Family – for listening & being patient throughout this difficult journey
Ian R. Murphy - for existing incredibly for a time. You were the first to make me feel like being a weirdo was more than alright.
The universe/God – So many things with this show fell into place perfectly and with little to no effort on my part. Without those I dare say I would not have believed this show was supposed to happen.
Suicide Prevention Resources
If you or someone you know may be at risk please consider the following resources:
Even if you feel hopeless right now, psychiatrists note that these feelings are not permanent, which is why it's important to tell someone you trust how you are feeling in the present. "A key point is not to manage these thoughts alone — seek help and support," Dr. Bradley Gaynes, professor and associate chair of research trainging and education in the department of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, says. If you don't feel like you can talk to a friend or loved one, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or send a message to Crisis Text Line (text CONNECT to 741741).
Additionally, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's #BeThe1To program recommends making a safety plan with a friend. "A safety plan is designed so that you can start at step one and continue through the steps until you feel safe. You should keep your plan in a place where you can easily access it (your wallet or cell phone) when you have thoughts of hurting yourself," the program explained on The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's website.
You can download a safety-plan template (www.sprc.org) so you have resources in place. One of the first steps is identifying your feelings. "What sorts of thoughts, images, moods, situations, and behaviors indicate to you that a crisis may be developing? Write these down in your own words," the program advised. If you're overwhelmed and feel like you need more help right now, call 911 or go to the emergency room. Remember, depression is a health condition, and just as with physical illness, there are resources to help you.
Additionally, if you don’t have health insurance, you can call the National Alliance on Mental Illness at 1-800-950-6264 for information about free or reduced long-term help and support. NAMI offers a comprehensive guide for finding a therapist, and it walks you through every step, including how to choose the right mental health provider for you. And most importantly, no matter how you’re feeling, please know that you matter and you don’t have to go through this alone.