Music, for me, is the little embers in the fire that rise above the burn to make their own tiny spark into the infinite darkness of the night sky. It’s the piece of what was, in the process of being used, of changing forms, that breaks free from the rest to reach for the heavens to make the world a little brighter for a minute, to shed light into the shadows where we are not accustomed to looking.
P!nk just released a new album, The Truth About Love last week- I’ve already made my love and respect for her music & her message on Facebook, especially after she became a mother and started openly wearing and breastfeeding her daughter, Willow. Nothing has shown me the truth about love like becoming a parent, either. Not that her album is about parenting… it’s just about life, and how she progresses.
Are you starting to see why I like her so much?
I mean, the very first lyrics you hear on the album are,
Cut to now, holy wow
When did everything become such a hell of a mess?
Maybe now, maybe now
Can somebody come and take this off my chest?
Yeah, I feel ya, mama.
This isn’t the first time my life has been paused by the poignance of her music. The first song that I heard on the radio while driving away after hearing that my dad was going home from the hospital on hospice was Glitter in the Air; a song essentially about helplessly watching the end of something beautiful. (Also from the same album is I Don’t Believe You, is about her divorce- something I was also going through at the time.) I had to pull over and let the music wash over me- Killing Me Softly was certainly written about exactly this; strumming my pain with her fingers, singing my life with her words…. The same happened when I heard Beam Me Up for the first time, a departure from the upbeat title track, there was acoustic guitar- and then a fire was set in my heart that spread to my swollen throat and came streaming down my face as she sang,
holding your face
I’m tired of being a fighter,
It reminded me of my very first Wordless Wednesday, “If I Could Escape” about finding those sacred spaces, even within our imaginations or hearts. (I lost my father to melanoma almost two years ago, exactly. You can read the handful of posts I’ve managed to purge about it here) It resonated with me in the deep, dark pool of grief that I protect so dearly within my solar plexus; instantly day dreaming of being alone in a sunny field, somewhere… and that dark, painful place just Care Bear staring (C’mon, you were alive in the 80s right?) white light into the clouds, carrying me to where my Dad is… just for one small, sweet minute.
It helps that I had a dream a few nights ago of almost exactly that nature. I have only had a handful dreams that my dad has been in since his passing- the few I’ve had, I have only been able to see the back of his head in the sanctuary of the church I grew up in. I hear his familiar cough, interrupting the quiet between scripture and song- especially the one that covered up the fact that he was tearing up after literally anything my mom sang. In fact, it was one of the ways, growing up, that I knew that my parents really, truly loved each other and were connected in some way other than having shared children. (This is HUGE to someone in the single-digit-age bracket.) I remember being filled with love, looking at him, being filled with love, looking at her.
|Truth, right there.|
The moment after he died, in fact, as I was bent over, busy sobbing, snotting, drooling and shaking, she began singing to him, to herself. She released her own soul as he released his in what would be their last mutual act.
At the end of his memorial service, when my mom stood to thank everyone- again, she was moved to spontaneously share her message in music in worship, in prayer, in agony. Within seconds, dozens of voices joined her and the room was filled with three part harmony… I am sure, wherever he is, my dad was choking up.
In my dream, I was granted almost exactly that simple, sweet minute. I was walking with him in the clouds along a track that resembled the track on the Candy Land game board. Every time I see him in my dreams, I am aware that he is no longer on earth and am so, so grateful for what fleeting moments I get. (Have you seen The Jacket with Adrian Brody & Kiera Knightly? I always feel kind of like that character must have, going back and forth between different realities) We began walking along the multicolored track, making it just around the first bend, where he stopped.
I turned to see what had kept him, but was being moved forward, my feet suddenly adhered to an invisible conveyor belt. (Called “Time”...) I silently pleaded with him to come, tried to convince us both that the barrier was invisible, the walk inevitable as our eyes met for the final time.
The oceans of love and apology in his eyes will never leave me.
- He had never wanted to go; it had never been in his power to stay. The sadness in his eyes made me realize that one of the only people who wanted him to stay more than I did was him– and that his fatherly love for me still hurts when I hurt and wants me to be happy more than anything.
- The barrier is real for cancer patients, the walk is not guaranteed.
- It is not in any of our power to stay on this earth. The only thing in our power is to realize that the only time we have is now, and to cherish each opportunity to share, learn & grow- no matter what packaging it comes in.
Part of the reason that his passing has been so hard for me is because three days before he died, before he stopped eating and was regularly doused with morphine and lost the ability to talk, the last coherent thing he said to me when I entered his hospital room after hearing “the news” was “It’s not over yet, kid.” I have felt this entire time a separate sense of compassionate grief for him. Still, he never resigned himself to the inevitable- even on his deathbed, his chin was up, he was giving it his best and he was thinking of others before himself. My dad was one hell of a man.
My sisters and mom got to hear “I love you, too” one more time- those were his last words to me. At first, I felt jealous and a bit cheated of their sentimental last memories of his voice. However, there is wisdom in the words I heard- and they were chosen for me, in reaction to how scared and lost I must have looked, (I have NO poker face) and out of fatherly love… it meant he loved me just the same as if he’d chosen the words I’d been accustomed to hearing over the years.
Nothing is over until it’s over. Just like my fragile-bodied father, even in the face of what seems imminent and finite, I will not lose hope, I will not stop trying to stay in the moment, I will not let fear keep me from moving forward, from trying to make progress as a daughter, a woman, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a lover and a human. The sadness I carry within me is balanced (on my good days) by a true appreciation for the life I have been given, and faith that everything happens for a reason, that I can let go and let life fall into place in its own perfect time and way.
I am just now, two years after his death, coming to terms with the fact that I am not going to see him again. Part of me is still hoping the Universe will see my pain, my mom’s, my sister’s, his parents and friends’ and have mercy. I don’t know how long it will take to rehabilitate my heart- but even with no end in sight… at least I’m making progress.