The Song of Derenemyn, With Notes

(Note: this is not one of the chapters of our love story [for which I need to figure out a title]. It’s been a really hard past few days, harder than usual, so I haven’t been able to write the next chapter just yet. Saturday I woke up crying and basically didn’t stop, so I decided to just lean into the sorrow completely since it wasn’t abating. I sat and listened to the songs that she recorded throughout her life on repeat for hours, crying and missing her and remembering her and grieving hard over the fact that I can’t see her or touch her or converse or – you get the idea. I posted some things on Facebook to share her singing, including a bit from The Song of Derenemyn. I wanted to repost it again with some details about the song. A lot of it can be gleaned from the story I’ve told so far, but I wanted to add some notes about some other details. Love you all.)

The Song of Derenemyn is a gift in many ways, but also a literal one. For my birthday in 2016, Julienne gave me a CD with this song along with the lyrics printed on old-timey parchment-like paper. She’d written and recorded it for me, telling the story of us and our first year together in a way that was as magical and beautiful as she. It is my favorite song in the world. I have a daydream where the music she created for it gets turned into a full-blown instrumental to match her singing, but as it is, the song is perfect for me, just like Julienne is.

Derenemyn is the name Julienne gave our home. It means “Oak Tree Hill” in Tolkien’s Sindarin Elvish (and Tolkien grammar Nazis can fuck off if they say emyn generally refers to hills, not a singular hill). She coined it in the days after we moved in, since our house sits atop a hill covered in oak trees. Our backyard leads to state-owned woods that we would hike in all the time, until she needed oxygen (I still haven’t been able to walk those woods again, not yet). We always talked about getting a sign with the name in English and Elvish for the front yard but never did. I’ll eventually rectify that.
When she wrote it, we were in the blissful days when she was NED (no evidence of disease) after her surgery and chemo, a seven-month stretch when we felt like we’d reclaimed our lives but had a perspective on how beautiful and fleeting it could be. All things did come, and all things did go.

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The true Bard of Derenemyn.

The Song of Derenemyn

by Julienne Gede Edwards

Once before and long ago
A brave young man was made to know
A year of joy and bitter woe
In his loving of a maiden

He met her at an olden fair
With whipping wit and golden hair
Like magic, she did him ensnare,
This maid of Derenemyn

A year went by, and still he yearned
And when the fair at last returned
He told her how his heart had burned
For the maid of Derenemyn

In summer sweet, they planned to wed
They laid in groves as marriage beds
As fairies light around them tread
Midsummer’s joy proclaimin’

And yet one day, the maid grew ill
He held her, but it worsened still
He eased her and he tried to will
The balm of Derenemyn

But fear and tears and furrowed brows
Could not keep them from their sacred vows
So Summer’s beauty once more was roused
And they wed on Derenemyn

Though Summer is not made to last
And yellow took the green of grass
So Autumn made the leaves of brass
And set the hills aflamin’

And as it did, they tried to find
A cure to ease her troubled mind
And leave this sickness soon behind
And return to Derenemyn

Though the crisp of air filled her heart with song
She knew the journey would be long
But with him, she knew where she belonged
To him, on Derenemyn

The bitter chill whipped in the air
The leaves turned brown and the oaks were bare
So he built a fire beside her chair
As the dark of winter came in

She struggled all the day and night
Her body weary from the fight
And all joy vanished from her sight
All joy but Derenemyn

So the hailing oak threw his arms up high
And touched his hand to the silver sky
And the snow came falling by and by
On the side of Derenemyn

As all things come and all things go
Like summer and like melting snow
So spring with creeping green did grow
The forest’s soul reclaimin’

And so her weary body healed
And spring in her was soon revealed
Her eyes glowed like the greenest field
In her home on Derenemyn

And they danced and laughed and they sang once more
Twice happy as they were before
And loved each other ever more
In the woods of Derenemyn

Once before and long ago
All things did come, and then did go
But lucky few will come to know
The joy of Derenemyn.

Notes

Once before and long ago
A brave young man was made to know
A year of joy and bitter woe
In his loving of a maiden

It was very nice of her to call me young. Our age difference didn’t matter to us and we didn’t care what people thought, but it was still sweet of her.

He met her at an olden fair
With whipping wit and golden hair
Like magic, she did him ensnare,
This maid of Derenemyn

To anyone who has read the love story thus far, this is obviously a reference to when I met Julienne at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. She definitely had a whipping wit, and I was certainly ensnared. Happily.

A year went by, and still he yearned
And when the fair at last returned
He told her how his heart had burned
For the maid of Derenemyn

Also obviously, this refers to me finding her the next year at the faire and managing to explain what had happened.

In summer sweet, they planned to wed
They laid in groves as marriage beds
As fairies light around them tread
Midsummer’s joy proclaimin’

A reference to the Dothraki Love Nest.

The bitter chill whipped in the air
The leaves turned brown and the oaks were bare
So he built a fire beside her chair
As the dark of winter came in

I made a reference to her nook in my post about her passing. A comfy high-backed arm chair tucked between the couch and bookshelves, it was where she liked to sit with a blanket (and usually Lewis) on her lap and drink tea. We have a woodstove, and building fires for her was a regular part of our life as soon as it got chilly. It’s going to be a challenge for me this winter, but every minute of every day is a challenge, so that won’t be a surprise.

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A strongarm selfie from her nook.

Also, winter was our least favorite time. Her first round of chemo left her with some neuropathy in her fingers and toes, so when it grew cold it would bring her pain. Also, having the trees around us bare and seemingly lifeless was a sad sight for us both. This past winter, we were just trying to make it to spring so she could once again see her beautiful green woods as she lay in bed. I checked for any signs of budding leaves as soon as March came, day after day after day. When the green finally came back, it was such a joy to us both. Every day I was home, I would open the curtains for her when she awoke so that she could look outside and see the green forest again. It was why she’d wanted to be in our bed for her last days, so she could look out the windows at the forest we loved. I still open the curtains for her before I leave for work in the morning. It will be a difficult time when the trees are bare once more.

So the hailing oak threw his arms up high
And touched his hand to the silver sky
And the snow came falling by and by
On the side of Derenemyn

The “hailing oak” is the name she gave to a particular tree that is in our woods behind the house. It looks like something out of myth. We would tell each other stories about how the hailing oak was the ruler of the forest of Derenemyn. We planned on burying treasure of some sort out there, then telling our kids about the stories of treasure and leaving clues in books for them to find. She would have been such an amazing mother.

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The hailing oak, ruling over her forest.

Once before and long ago
All things did come, and then did go
But lucky few will come to know
The joy of Derenemyn.

I am the luckiest person alive, because I lived, and loved, with her, on the hill of Derenemyn.

About Alan Edwards

Former cancer caregiver. Husband of the most magical and amazing person who ever lived.

Posted on September 30, 2019, in The Real and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Alan, with this and your skill at fantasy writing, you should make her immortalized in the Troius saga. I would buy it in a heartbeat.

    • If I can write fiction again, I may have to do just that. Or its own project.

      • You two deserve to have your story told outside of the digital universe. It’s a gripping tale that is filled with love, loss, and how we as people grieve. It is as close to fantasy as you can get from a life of reality. I myself have cancer, I know that it can be difficult but never to the levels you have seen and been through. I won’t use the trope of “she would want you to be happy” but if I understand anything from these recent posts, she honestly would.

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