How many times have our favorite song lyrics controlled our destinies? I know I listened to Duran Duran way too often during the 80’s, and, no offense to the fans, it led to some very poor choices, both fashionably and morally. Alas, I am not Rio, dancing on the sand — with my freshman fifteen and permed hair — no matter how convincingly the song had me believing I was an elusive, invincible vixen, beholden to no one.
I’m more thoughtful about it now, but I still allow song lyrics to guide me through this confusing and confounding hedge maze of life. When my oldest daughter left for college, all I could hear in my head were the lyrics to Closing Time by Semisonic. The irony is that the song itself is actually about Last Call at a bar, and hoping you hook up with someone worthwhile. This is, obviously, an area of my daughter’s personal growth I prefer not to dwell on. However, there is one line of the song that has always managed to pierce me right in the solar plexus, causing the little squeezey feeling that secretes the emotional onion juice that makes my eyes water and my nose run:
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
Such an almost matter-of-fact statement, but why does it make me want to burst into tears? Perhaps because it really means that life’s path is taking on a new trajectory, and we were perfectly happy, or thought we were happy, with the old one. Some times we want change, and some times we don’t (which might explain why the Mounds/Almond Joy jingle became an ear worm) and some times we both want it and reject it simultaneously, as was the case when my daughter moved into the dorm.
These same lyrics also reverberated in my head as I worked to close down my mother’s house, my childhood home, after her passing. Exhibit A for someone not wanting change, but getting it dumped in her lap.
A child growing up and leaving home is part of the Circle of Life concept, and while emotionally difficult, we all know we eventually have to come to grips with it. When confronting a painful reality that was not anticipated, I turn to one of my favorite Seal songs, Crazy, packed solidly, like nutrient-rich leafy greens, with healthy advice.
About a year ago, when I was in the middle of repeat mammograms, a biopsy and an MRI because of suspicious cells in my right breast, I was trying to act like my carefree pal Rio, but inside I was freaking out like a lost child in a clown museum.
For the most part I had it under control. The part of me who is an expert at plugging her ears and chanting “Blah Blah Blah” was behind the wheel most of the time. But then, there were the inevitable moments of weakness. I certainly wasn’t going to share my runaway fears with my daughters, as the last thing on earth I wanted to do was cause them any unnecessary worry. (Even though I will selfishly admit I thought about it, if only to see if they would cling to me like children again…and maybe…just maybe…consider the loving source of their clean laundry.)
And I wasn’t going share these fears with my husband either. I know he cares, but after two decades of marriage I know he also prefers to channel Spock at times like this. “Let’s not worry until we have all the facts.” Unfortunately, it’s the waiting and not knowing part that cause all the angst in the first place.
The lyrics from Crazy grant me the confidence to admit what I did next. And, as opposed to any potential life advice contained in Rio, I urge you, in moments of tortuous motherlessness, to heed them:
“But we’re never gonna survive, unless, we are a little crazy.”
One morning, I waited till the house was empty. I collected my two favorite framed photos of my mother, who passed when I was 39, and my father, who passed when I was 19. I set the photos side by side on a table and ceremoniously lighted a candle. I talked to their smiling faces, and wished, like in the Harry Potter films, the photos could move and wave and weep and blow kisses.
I confided to my mom and dad, out loud, how frightened I was. I told them how much I missed them. I told them how much I wished they could hug me right now and reassure me. I told them how I wish I had appreciated them more when they were alive. After so many thoughts and confessions came tumbling out, I just basically sat there and cried. But oddly, it wasn’t a desperate, all-alone, woe-is-me kind of crying, if that makes any sense. Instead, it bolstered me.
I mean, I’m no expert. I have no facts about The Afterlife. I would like to believe they are with me still, but who, in the end, really knows?
I will say this. Going forward, I felt different. I felt strong. I stopped feeling panic. At times, like during my first radiation treatment, I still felt sad that they weren’t physically with me in the waiting room. But sad and scared are two different emotions. My parents had my back, from where ever they are.
I’m cancer free and my prognosis is excellent. Those were the only tears I shed during the ordeal.
I honestly don’t believe love dies.
Crazy can be a gift sometimes. Don’t be afraid to use it.