You Want Them Here Forever

 

One of the bad things about getting older is, everyone else gets older, too.

And the people you love the most, who are older than you, who have always been in your life…

…eventually pass away.

And an essential part of your life is now gone.

You feel deeply hurt and, for a while, a little disoriented.

Your constellation looks different now; there’s a star missing.

And it upsets your sense of order. You want all these precious people who have always been here, to always stay here, defying the inevitable, because you don’t know life without them, nor do you want to.

And you know this is how life is; it’s just the natural order of things. But you still hate it.

 

My wife lost an aunt this week, one that she knew and dearly loved all her life.

Her passing wasn’t that unexpected; she’d been in poor health. But of course, that doesn’t make losing her hurt any less.

I met her 37 years ago, back when my wife was my girlfriend, even before I met my future in-laws. She was a wonderful lady, a terrific sister, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She loved her family wholeheartedly, and took care of them the best she could.

I know everyone who knew her will miss her. Like I said at the beginning, letting go of someone you love is always hard, and the older you get, the more letting go you have to do.

And memories, as much as they will sustain you in the future, feel woefully inadequate in the immediate sorrow and grief.

And that’s where family comes in. We cry on each other, hold each other up, affirm our love for each other and for the one who has left.

And we all just go on, considering ourselves so lucky for having known that special someone.

 

Love you, Geneva. You’re one of the best people I ever knew. Rest In Peace.

Fire, Bleed, Repeat

 

Really, is there any point?

Any point at all in discussing the school shooting in a Florida high school on Wednesday?

The one that left seventeen people dead, at the hands of a nineteen-year-old former student? With a rifle?

That filled our TV screens with crying students and crying parents and SWAT teams and somber reporters?

That rang the bell for Round Whatever of the great Gun Debate?

Really, is there any point?

When we all know the end result will be…nothing.

And the story will disappear from the news cycle in a week or two.

And the whole f####ng scenario will play out again. And again. And again.

I honestly don’t know where to go from here. I can’t offer any hope. I can’t offer any rage. I think it’s all a waste of my breath.

So, I’ll just offer this:

To those of you who lost people you loved in this tragedy, I am so very deeply sorry. My heart is broken for you.

But, just as heartbreaking, is that you’re likely just the latest in a never ending line.

Because our attention span is just too short to allow us to care.

That’s the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

 

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War, I despise ’cause it means destruction of innocent lives.

“War”, Edwin Starr

SONGWRITERS
Strong, Barrett / Whitfield, Norman J.

 

The classic Christmas ballad, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, was released around Christmas time in 1943, and became a huge hit for singer Bing Crosby.

The song, which speaks of wishing to be home with family for the holidays, complete with “snow and mistletoe, and presents on the tree,” wasn’t originally written from the point of view of a soldier stationed overseas, but quickly took on that meaning, since it was released during wartime. For many of the servicemen, the only way to get back home for Christmas was “only in my dreams.”

Two years earlier, and 75 years ago today, Japanese forces made sure that over two thousand servicemen stationed at Pearl Harbor would not be home for Christmas. Any Christmas.

 

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Imagine how December 25, 1941 must have been for the families of all those lost just eighteen days before.

It’s a pain that has been experienced through our history. From the American Revolution to the present, over a million Americans have died in battle. That’s a lot of families through the decades, suddenly overwhelmed with an enormous loss. Their beloved soldier would not be home for Christmas…or ever.

Now, I know there are plenty of other people who, for whatever reason, are separated from their loved ones at Christmas time. I’m not ignoring them, or belittling their circumstances. (Not intentionally, at least.) That especially goes for all the victims of violence – gun violence, mainly – and their bereaved, devastated families.

But, on this somber anniversary, my thoughts go to all those who have been separated, temporarily or permanently, by the harsh reality of war. I’m not going to debate the rights and wrongs of war here, other than to say, I hate what it does to families.

And not just American families.

So, here’s a few Christmas wishes, from a grateful civilian:

To all of you military men and women, spending Christmas somewhere far from home, thank you for your service. I wish you were here, too. Come home soon, and safe. Merry Christmas.🎄 🎁

To all of you celebrating Christmas while waiting for your loved ones to come home, thank you for the sacrifices you make. May they return soon for a joyful reunion.

 

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And to all of you facing, again or for the first time, the unbearable pain of never seeing another Christmas with that mom or dad, that son or daughter, that brother or sister, that husband or wife, that special person…

 

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My heart goes out to you. You are going through grief of a magnitude many of us will never know. I am so very sorry. I wish you love and comfort in your sorrow.

And to everyone, Peace on Earth.

Leonard and Leon

 

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

“Hallelujah”, Leonard Cohen

 

I love you in a place where there’s no space or time
I love you for in my life you are a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singing this song for you

“A Song for You”, Leon Russell

 

Now, I ask you: Have there ever been any lyrics written to surpass the two examples I just presented?

Two songwriting giants no longer roam the earth.

We lost Leonard Cohen and Leon Russell in quick succession, recently. Each lived a life long and full – Cohen died at the age of 82, Russell at 74 – yet it still feels like they both departed too soon. But, boy, were we lucky to have ’em with us for awhile.

This has been a tough year for music fans.

It started with the one-two gut punch of David Bowie and Glenn Frey’s passing, followed by Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire, the loss of country music legend Merle Haggard, the tragic, untimely death of Prince, along with several more of their brilliantly talented fellowship.

And now, these two legendary figures.

If you’re not familiar with the works of Leonard Cohen and Leon Russell, do yourself a big favor, and get acquainted. If you want to learn about songwriting, these gentlemen are the Master Class. You might discover you know more of their songs than you thought; you just never knew these guys wrote them.

Vocally, each of them is, putting it kindly, an acquired taste. Just warning you, in case you’ve never heard them before. But don’t listen to their voices; listen to their words.

And appreciate the two peerless craftsmen who graced us with them.

Rest in peace, gentlemen. Thanks for what you shared with us.

 

P.S. – Russell’s “Tightrope” features one of my all-time favorite lines:

Like a rubbernecked giraffe, you look into my past.

Gotta love it.