Monday, February 4, 2013

"Wherever You Will Go"

My Grandpa Lang was a great piano player. No one in my immediate family ever followed in his footsteps, but two of my cousins did. Kyle and Kenyon learned to play with the Suzuki method, which I know nothing about except that they can literally listen to a song for the first time and then sit down at a piano and play it, no sheets of music, no nothing. It's such a joy to watch, and obviously, to hear.

Kyle played the piano at my wedding and at Rachel's, and both times, the music was so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes. My brother-in-law, Matt, is an awesome piano player too, and his performance to kick off his own wedding ceremony was breath-taking.

In our house, we're far less sophisticated. Teddy's favorite song right now is the Dinosaur Train opening number, which he can recite word for word despite that I've heard it just as many times and I can't. Annabel really likes the classic hit, Call Me Maybe, as well as Jack Johnson's "Bubbly Toes," as she calls it. The piano that Kyle and Susan so graciously gave to us (my grandparent's old one) is still waiting desperately for someone to play something on it that resembles a chord, and I am determined that in 2013, someone will.

Deep in the basement, we also have the dumbest gift I ever gave Brian -- a guitar. He always told me he wanted to learn to play and I brilliantly chose to buy him one when he had a one year old and a wife that worked 60 hours a week. Needless to say, that thing has been moved around to all different parts of the house, but it's never once been played.

Despite our total lack of any real musical knowledge in our house, we all really love music. Unsurprisingly, we aren't familiar with any smart-people kinds of music (like classical or opera) but we love Bruce, and lots of other songs that make us want to (try to) sing and (try to) dance.

Since I got cancer, music has been more important to me than ever before. Maybe it's just that I've been less busy and I've had the time to really listen, and to Google different lyrics. Or maybe it's that music tells stories and explains emotions in ways that really can help people cope and heal. Likely it's a bit of both. Often in the past several months, I find myself listening to a song and being totally taken in by it; like it transported me to a whole different place and made me feel something that, in the end, made me feel better. This happened today and it led me to need to write.

*  *  *

If you haven't yet noticed, I can't seem to process much of my life in real time. Something happens, I need some time to think or to not think, and only then can I write. This post is one of those delayed reactions.

As I posted last week, Brian gave the eulogy at his Grandma's funeral on February 1, 2013. The night before, after working a full day and attending the wake and subsequent family gathering, Brian sat down to draft the tribute to Grandma Kosta. I tried so hard to stay up late with him, at first comforted by the thought that I'd have company while I wrote. But I was exhausted and I fell asleep on the sofa next to Brian who was typing away in the healing chair.

The next morning, while the kids ran around like maniacs and our amazing new babysitter kindly corralled them, Brian hid upstairs trying to finish the eulogy. When he was done, he asked me to read it to make sure he hadn't missed anything or anyone. In the madness of the usual morning, I sat down and read it, and before I was even on the last page, I was tearing up. I didn't want the kids to see me cry so I told Brian that it was beyond excellent even though I hadn't actually finished it all.

As with any event, especially those as important as a loved one's funeral, there is so much I could write about from that day. But I'm choosing one tiny, tiny slice to share tonight because it's one part I have been able to digest.

On our drive into the city on the morning of the funeral, we talked about the eulogy. Brian said something like, I just need to get through it without crying. Yeah, right. That is way too high of a goal! I scoffed (nicely). Just cry if you need to! It's your Grandma's funeral, tough guy! 

When it came time for the eulogy, Brian took the podium at the front of the incensed church. He spoke like I've heard him speak so many times before -- sincerely and confidently. He made us all laugh and cry and nod in agreement. It was beautiful, and through all of the part that I had read earlier that day, he had held back the tears.

Then came the last part. It was about Grandma and Ted -- not our Teddy, but the Teddy that our Teddy was named after -- Grandpa Ted, Grandma's husband, her soulmate, as Brian called him. Brian spoke about all of the things that his grandparents had done together. And that's when Brian's tears came. A lot of them. He fought on. He spoke about Grandma losing her soulmate decades ago and he struggled, really struggled, to get out one particular sentence. I'll never forget that sentence. How can a person go on without their soulmate? That was it.

Of course, I was bawling too, along with everyone sitting behind me and in front of me. But my cry was a really strange cry, like I have never experienced before. It had to do mostly with love, not just fear or sadness, and I hadn't cried for anything but fear or sadness in so long that I didn't even remember that there could be another reason.

Brian powered on. He finished what he had written, about his grandparents being reunited, and about how much everyone loved his Grandma. When Brian was done, there wasn't a soul in that church that didn't know how much love there is between Brian's grandparents. I also don't think there was a soul in that building who hadn't deduced how much love there is between their eloquent grandson and his bald wife.

I have never held Brian's hand as tight as I did when he got back to the pew.

When I posted the eulogy that night (HERE), I went back and read the last part that Brian had written -- the part that made him cry so much. And I realized that when he said it at the church, he changed one word -- where he had written, How can a person go on without her soulmate? he had instead said, How can a person go on without their soulmate? (For you total nerds out there -- like me -- yes, Brian knows it should be without "his or her" soulmate but trust me, this was one of those times when grammar was irrelevant.)

Brian and I don't talk about my cancer much anymore, not that we ever talked about it much to begin with. Most of our cancer-related discussions have involved the logistics of treatments, doctors appointments, and kid schedules, or the incredible experiences we have had on this ride (like the Pink Out the Rink night, for one example). But every now and then, when I least expect it, and I mean least expect it, I see what all of this has done to Brian. I have never seen it more clearly than I did when he stood on the podium last Friday (and the We Bought a Zoo night was tough to beat).

I had absolutely no intention of writing today, but this post burst out of my fingertips in less than 30 minutes, so it hasn't detracted too much from the work I need to complete. Where did this come from? you may ask. Here's where.

When I turned on my laptop and opened up Pandora before I started working at my kitchen table this morning, the second song that came on my station was Little Wonders. I took that as a good sign since I've written about that song before (HERE) and never even gave it the official thumbs up on Pandora. But it was the first song that came on today that really caught my attention. It was one that I have heard at least a hundred times before, but I've never really listened to it or read the lyrics (and I'm one of those people that can never figure out lyrics by just listening -- if I try, I come up with some pretty wacky things -- Teddy inherited that trait from me, which is why he loves Survivor's, "I am the Tiger").

For some reason, though, I stopped and read the lyrics on the Pandora screen. The song resonated in me and out of nowhere, I was crying. And the cry felt the same as the one from last Friday -- hard to explain and really powerful -- not so much about fear or sadness, but instead, about really deep love.

I gave myself a minute. Then it was time to get to work.

"Wherever You Will Go" 
By: The Calling

So lately, I've been wonderin'
Who will be there to take my place
When I'm gone, you'll need love
To light the shadows on your face
If a great wave should fall
It would fall upon us all
Then between the sand and stone
Could you make it on your own?

If I could, then I would
I'll go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low
I'll go wherever you will go

And maybe, I'll find out
The way to make it back someday
To watch you, to guide you
Through the darkest of your days
If a great wave should fall
It would fall upon us all
Well I hope there's someone out there
Who can bring me back to you


Runaway with my heart
Runaway with my hope
Runaway with my love

I know now, just quite how
My life and love might still go on
In your heart and your mind
I'll stay with you for all of time


If I could turn back time
I'll go wherever you will go
If I could make you mine
I'll go wherever you will go

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