Turn it up real loud and sing your heart out

Patty Griffin

When It Don’t Come Easy

🎵Red lights are flashing on the highway
I wonder if we’re gonna ever get home
I wonder if we’re gonna ever get home tonight
Everywhere the waters getting rough
Your best intentions may not be enough
I wonder if we’re gonna ever get home tonight

It is an emergency. 2011 and we were hurt. I wondered if we would ever make it back to ourselves. If my true love and I could find each other again through all this pain. My best intentions, my love, my faith wouldn’t be enough. He wanted something else. I wasn’t enough. And that right there is a deep hurt. So deep that I sit here writing in my empty classroom with only a class pet turtle swimming in a too big aquarium, to keep me company. The fluorescent lights on a timer just went off again. My typing isn’t enough movement to keep the system knowing I’m here. (Such a fucking metaphor). Everyone has gone home. Today is the start of summer. And me, I am in the winter of grief. Praying for a miraculous spring. I am stuck in the frozen tundra while others are sitting beside the newly opened pool. I gotta thaw. I gotta heal. I gotta sing this song on repeat until I feel instead of freeze.

🎵But if you break down
I’ll drive out and find you
If you forget my love 
I’ll try to remind you
And stay by you when it don’t come

I thought my love was so strong and loud and palpable that he could never forget my love even in the darkest times. But I think his dark times were darker than I knew. I believed that I was an expert at offering love. I’m kind, vulnerable, and good. I love deeply. Did I remind you that I loved you? Did I turn the car around and insist maniacally that there was no way our love could end? Did I make you register my love? Did I force you to slam on the breaks and spin around to realize my love? Like the last scene in the movies I loved. Did I hold the boom box over my head and stand under your window? Did I wait for you on the top of the Empire State Building?

🎵I don’t know nothing except change will come
Year after year what we do is undone
Time keeps moving from a crawl to a run
I wonder if we’re gonna ever get home

Change sure did come. The years ravaged us like a gravel road under repeated heavy trucks and torrential rain. We were missing her. Missing our baby because her personality, her person, her cheeks to kiss, her voice of strength, her back our pillar, her hair of gold trailing out the open car window, her eyes reflecting sunshine, her voice singing with the radio, her love emanating, her stories pouring forth, her heat that radiated off her suntanned skin, her inability to whisper, her laugh that somersaulted from her mouth, all of it stolen. She had been hollowed to the core. What made Addy, Addy– was gone. And the heart break was perpetual and shockingly stabbing. Chad and I had lost it all. Our belief that our family that began so unconventionally had been as tall and strong as the Sequoia was Gone. Our convincing ourselves that we had it all under control- the jobs, the careers, the bank account, the cross country moves, the well dressed children with clean fingernails and shiny hair, the happy parents, the undying love, the marriage of two better halves, the rising above, the never fighting, the NPR listening, and enlightened parenting, it was all a farce if Addy was sick.

We had four bambinos by the time we were thirty. Dolly came the next year and Mim 4 years later. We married when Addy was 3 months at age 25 and she was our light. She was the sun surrounding us. The family and friends that doubted our maturity and stability. They were so wrong. Look at her. She was heavenly. And then her brother and the others just reinforced our knowledge that we had done it. We had succeeded at this whole family thing. We were a dream. And honestly, we mocked our doubters. We joked about their kids lacking spectacular care when they were dropped off at the gym child care and sleeping in their own cribs down the hall. We breastfed and slept with our babies and mothered the hell out of them until they were ready to play. And we taught them to play better that our doubters, too. Our kids caught frogs and shrimp. They watched the tides instead of TV. No guns or Barbies. We were lovers and peacemakers and children’s lit lovers. We championed kindness, childhood and singalongs. We built our marriage on mutual respect of our ability to parent with love and face the world as needing our saving and our giving in conjunction with this easy way of meeting each other exactly where we needed. We were such a matching pair. So many of our years were effortless.

And what did this love give us? Beautiful children with the loveliest hearts and the most glorious love for each other.

And, I had maintained visions of old age throughout the good and the bad times. Like a record replaying in the background of the restaurant of my life. The music was of grandparenting. Of drinking mint juleps out of crystal tumblers. Of traveling in an airstream. Of flying from India to Italy and seeing a million trillion colors. Of sleeping in and reading books.

I didn’t know he was leaving. Or I hadn’t admitted He left.

🎵You’re out there walking down a highway
And all of the signs got blown away
Sometimes you wonder if you’re walking in the wrong direction

All of the signs were there. He lost 50 pounds. Travelled to New York every other week. Stopped whispering in my ear. Forgot to reassure when I doubted myself worth. Refused to soothe my worries. Egged on my sadness with His absence. And I- I must have faded and hid. I doubted and wept. When Addy was sick, I despaired and begged for His love. Pleaded that my perfect little family would be ok. We could no longer promise that to each other. He pulled away. I assumed he felt this pain in his own way. I believed we would come back together.

🎵But if you break down
I’ll drive out and find you
If you forget my love 
I’ll try to remind you
And stay by you when it don’t come easy

This was it. It wasn’t easy. Once in an unresolved therapy session, He said it hadn’t been easy since the year of 2000. Rding the Marta back and forth to Georgetown in a suit with an leather briefcase had never been his plan. He had gotten too far from his dreams and goals. He had planned on something wildly different. And here I was in the year 2017 on a proverbial couch hearing from the husband that I didn’t know that it hadn’t been easy for a long time.

🎵So many things that I had before
That don’t matter to me now
Tonight I cry for the love that I’ve lost
And the love I’ve never found
When the last bird falls
And the last siren sounds
Someone will say what’s been said before
Its only love we were looking for

I thought. I knew. I believed. “Its only love we were looking for.” I took our marriage for granted. And I think he thought I had forever. Maybe he thought I neglected him. I just thought I was focusing on what needed me the most. The babies. Our children. But I lost us. Or maybe us was lost because he left. Which came first? Chicken? Egg?

🎵But if you break down
I’ll drive out and find you
If you forget my love 
I’ll try to remind you
And stay by you when it don’t come easy

Songwriters: Patricia J. GriffinWhen It Don’t Come Easy lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

I thought we would stay by each other when it wasn’t easy. And I knew it wasn’t easy in the spring of 2011 when our oldest was hospitalized in Wisconsin, our baby had a severe disability and a freak lead poisoning from an unknown cause, and then to top it all off like the plagues in the Bible, three of our long haireds got lice. And He went to New York. She was in His hotel room. Her shoes and socks came off. She comforted? She promised new and shiny? And she sat in His hotel room barefoot with my husband. I’ve never been bare foot with a man other than Him in 23 years.

( I found her sock. But you remember that story. Click the link if you want to read that post.)

I was angry and lost. This is the unspeakable, unwriteable, unbloggable, unpostable thing. I needed Him. And He was gone when I needed Him the most. I can’t come back from that. I never like to pretend to know what he thought or felt but I imagine that he thought I didn’t appreciate him, that it was already over or wasn’t able to give him what he needed? Who knows? When I needed him the most, I was alone. And I think he needed me, too but he couldn’t find me so he left.

This is way before I knew. Way before I knew he wasn’t really married to me anymore. He wasn’t true. And I had needed true. I needed him to love my broken down self. My most hurt self needed him to make a u-turn and pick me up and hold me close. And it is bizarre how the person who knew me and loved me the most, left- and the feeling that leaves me with- the grief- it makes me feel both miniscule and grotesquely large. My self is at risk of disappearing, shrinking, shriveling up to never claim any fanciness or pride or hope or value for fear of being recognized as the fool who wasn’t enough for her own true love. And at the same time this grief makes me feel like I’m taking up too much space. That I am overflowing my airplane seat and everyone knows I should have purchased at least two tickets so that no poor stranger would have to put up with my size and space takingness or even worse my touch. My reflection glances at the unknown woman wondering when she will not be so awful. Will that woman ever have beach waves clear glowing skin, or one chin? And I know. Here is the proof. I am still lost.

And this is the core of it. This is my problem. My grief. I thought I was this person. I thought he was this person. 🎵If you fall apart, if you don’t make it home- I will be there. I won’t let you ever lose my love. I will offer it again and again. I will open my heart and give and give. What’s mine is yours and if you need more, I’ll go hunt it down and offer it to you on bended knee. I thought our love was Unforgettable. Unregrettable. Unflappable. Unendable.

It is taking me longer than I expected. But I will rebound. I will repair, rebuild. I will be myself again. I just don’t know when.

I don’t want to go back. I can’t go back. That is impossible. But I hurt. I can never get home. 🎵I cry for the love that I’ve lost.


If you enjoyed this post, you might want to read my post titled The Bathtub Click the link to read.

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