When death ends your love story

This week I want to share a couple of song lyrics with you, and talk about loss. Sounds fun, right? I know it doesn’t, but try to hang in there, because I think the point I’m going to try to make is one almost all of us will have in common at some point or another.

The first set of song lyrics:

From: ‘Forever and Ever, Amen’ by Randy Travis

 This song came out a couple of years after Chris and I started dating. He learned it on the piano and played it for me regularly. It was simple and sweet, and a powerful promise for the future.

“If you wonder how long I’ll be faithful
I’ll be happy to tell you again
I’m gonna love you forever and ever
Forever and ever, amen.”

 

 

From:  ‘All I Ask of You’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber

 Chris and I saw Phantom of the Opera on Broadway multiple times at the Majestic Theatre. This was our wedding song – straightforward and very meaningful to us.

“Say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime
Say the word and I will follow you

Share each day with me, each night, each morning
Say you love me, you know I do

Love me, that’s all I ask of you

Anywhere you go, let me go too

Love me, that’s all I ask of you.”

 


(The male vocalist is Michael Ball, not Michael Crawford)

 

From: ‘Amazed’ by Lonestar

I was hospitalized in October 1999 when I was diagnosed with MS, and was discharged from physical rehab shortly before Christmas. We had gotten married in 1996 and were living in a rented townhouse.  Because there was no piano there, we had gotten Chris an excellent Casio electric keyboard that he played almost every day. A couple of days after I got home from physical rehab, he surprised me by playing this beautiful song he had learned.

“Every little thing that you do
I’m so in love with you
It just keeps getting better
I want to spend the rest of my life with you by my side
Forever and ever”

 

 

From: ‘When I said I do’ by Clint Black

This song came out around the same time I ended up in the hospital – within about 6 months I think. My medical diagnosis was serious and scary. More than once I apologized for it, even though of course it wasn’t my fault. Chris bought 3 copies of the CD containing this song. One went into each of our cars, and the third was for the stereo at home.

“I know there’s a lonely heart
In every lost and found
But forever you and I will be the ones
Who found out what forever means”

 

 

Love in Song and in Life

 Do you ever think about how many song lyrics are about love? We romanticize it, dream about it, strive for it, glory in it, cherish it, cry over it. And no matter how wonderful the love story, it always ends in death.

When you make your marriage vows, they almost always end with the words “till death do we part” or some slight variation on that pledge. I made those vows, standing at the altar in a Catholic Church at the culmination of a sacramental wedding mass. I understood what it meant, and I was 100% confident that Chris and I both made those vows with all sincerity. But now I wonder if anybody ever makes those solemn vows with the actual imagery of the end in mind.

Does anybody really think about the fact that the ugly end to a love story is that one half of it will be dead and buried in a casket, or shelved in a mausoleum, or cremated and then buried or shelved, or scattered to the winds. In the back of our minds we all know it but nobody really speaks about it. And with very rare exceptions, when we do, we don’t talk about it in such a brutally honest way. We seek to soften the stark in mild

And we don’t talk about what comes after the happy union crashes and burns because of death. If a marriage or other committed relationship ends for reasons that are not death, the details of separating the partners are hammered out in conversation and if need be, in a mediation room or a courtroom.

In the case of some illnesses, there is warning that death is coming, but there is so much to deal with that I doubt the partners have much time to cope fully with the emotions of it all. I have had the privilege of speaking to quite a number of widows and widowers who have lost a spouse to illness.  Without exception, each expressed in some way how glad they were that they had been able to speak to their late partner about subjects such as appreciation for having been with one another, plans for the surviving partner’s future, and promises about any children who were going to be left with one less parent.

The criminal who stole my husband also stole our chance to say goodbye.

Considering my multiple sclerosis and Chris’ general good health, we actually never really talked about what would happen if he dies first. We had no grave site purchased. He had a will with a notarized signature, but had never had time to get out to the attorneys office in the next county for them to file it. So, even though he had a will, in the eyes of our state laws, he didn’t.  He was working a high-pressure job that had long hours sometimes, plus taking care of our 3 kids, me, and our house. Plus, he was 46 and healthy. He always thought there was time to take care of it.

I was so stunned by his death that I think I shifted into some type of survival mode. More about that another day.

Just as music defined and underlined many other moments in our relationship, there continue to be several songs that painfully but cathartically capture the agonizing feeling of being widowed.

 

From: ‘Don’t wanna write this song’ by Brett Young  

For me, this song is like a gut punch every single time. The death of my husband broke my heart and it wasn’t his fault, or my fault. But I still have to live everyday with that permanent goodbye, which in our case was made in a Funeral Home.

“Maybe the hardest part
Is we didn’t break this heart.
Nobody cheated or lied.
I still have to live with goodbye.
But how can I just move on?
I’ve loved you for way too long –
I don’t want to admit that you’re gone”

 

 

From: ‘Here on Earth’ by Dierks Bentley

 I have always read extensively. After Chris was killed, I did what came naturally to me and started reading book after book, searching for answers. Why did this happen? If there is a God, why would God let this happen? If universe runs on the synergy of getting back good if you put good out there, then why would a guy who gave so much to people in so many different ways get killed in a horrific car wreck? I’ve read books written by religious scholars in multiple different religions. I read books written by psychiatrists and by psychologists. I read books written by spiritualists, atheists, agnostics, and philosophers spanning several hundreds of years. Some of it was fascinating and some was very thought provoking. Some was completely useless, others actually ridiculous.

Ironically, I ultimately came to that conclusion at this point that I’m not going to find an answer, just like this song says. If my opinion about that ever changes, believe me, I will definitely let you know.

“There’s not a stone in my heart I’ve left unturned
Not a piece of my soul that I ain’t searched
The only answer I found for all this hurt
Is there ain’t not answer here on earth.”

 

 

From :  ‘The Dance’ by Garth Brooks

 I admit that in the dark hours where very late night gradually slips into very early morning, I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. Obviously, it’s all a moot point because time machines don’t exist yet. What if I could go back, though, and make other choices? What I had seriously dated other people? Would I have married somebody else to protect myself from experiencing this heartbreak, if I had known that it was coming?

If the answer was just that it would save Chris, then it’s a no-brainer … of course I would give up our relationship so he could live. I couldn’t be selfish at the cost of his life. But our children are the big complicating factor in this theoretical quagmire. If it wasn’t for he and I together, our 3 children would not exist. Chris would have done anything for them. If given a choice between him surviving and them existing, I am absolutely certain he would sacrifice himself every time.

“Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared beneath the stars above.
For a moment all the world was right.
How could I have known you’d ever say goodbye?
And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance. I could have missed the pain
But I’d have to miss the dance.”

 

 

When you deal with your middle of the night ‘what-ifs’ and the ‘if only…’ thoughts, does trying to see the bigger picture help you as well? What does help you? I’d very much like to know.

 

 

 

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