My late wife, Jan, loved music. Her tastes in music varied widely. We began dating in 1969, on the tail end of the fabulous 60s era of music. Our first decade of marriage was the 70s. The best songs of that era stayed with us throughout her life, as they reminded us of happy times as newlyweds starting our family. Then there were the 80s. That decade reminded us of our older son and his coming of age. In the 90s, our younger son came of age. Music from that decade reminded us of him. In the first two decades of this century, we found new songs reminding us of the journey of our lives together as empty nesters.
Jan loved Celtic music and church music So from England. Classical music, especially Mozart, reminded us fondly of our four years in Germany. Her varied taste in Christmas music was exquisite. One reason that holiday meant so much to us was the variety of music she played on our cd player in our den. The player can hold six CDs at a time. Piled beside it was a couple of stacks of CDs always ready to be played. Those CDs are still there, just as they were when I brought her home from the hospital following her third stroke in July 2019. I have not touched them in over three years. They are as she left them.
I have been a guitar player since the age of 10. During my high school years, I was a member of a “cover band” that specialized in the harmonics of the Beach Boys. Our band broke up when the lead guitar player went off to college. Twenty-nine years later, we had a reunion in Nashville. We surprised ourselves by how much better we were after a quarter century of continuous playing. We decided to keep it up and scheduled a “gig” at a resort for the following summer. Jan got a big kick out of that experience, as it was a side of me she did not know before we met.
In those days, I had a keen interest in Brazilian “bossa novas.” Among my instruments was a classical guitar that I dreamed of playing bossa novas on. Jan always loved it when I would play and sing for her. I would constantly lament my inability to play Brazilian music because I thought it would be too hard for me to do so. One Christmas, after our kids were grown, she gave me a great gift: ten jazz guitar lessons (bossa novas are jazz). She then said I had no excuse for not learning to play my favorite music. The lessons were successful, and I played and sang many beautiful, romantic songs for a few years for her. She loved it.
When we had our horrendous wreck in January 2018, I stopped playing altogether. Nor did I play during the three years she was an invalid stroke patient. I regret that. I think Jan would have wanted to hear me play, even though she could not communicate or reason. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was a selfish thing for me to do. It was just too depressing.
When I am out and about, I hear music being piped in. When I hear a familiar song, I get sad and anxious. I have been told this is normal. I stopped listening to music on my car radio for the same reason. Music is no longer a part of my life. There are just too many memories with which to contend.
I did something different while in my car. I have Sirius Radio. There is a station called “Chill.” I can listen to the music on that station because 1) nothing is familiar, and 2) it soothes my soul. I turn it on when I am out as it is a healthy distraction, devoid of pain-inducing memories. Lately, though, they often play a song by an artist named, Lokii, titled: “Tied to You.” It is a sad song that repeats a haunting refrain, “I’m so tied, so tied to you.” At first, I got very distressed hearing that song because it perfectly describes my state of affairs. I am, indeed, so tied to her.
I’ve made myself listen to it each time, though. I’ve found that it connects me to Jan in a special way. When the song would end, I would tell her I am so tied to you and will remain so for the rest of my life. It simply defines us–in a different way than the myriad of other songs that have marked our lives over the decades. It is a perfect song for us…now.
I am managing my life decently one year into her death. I still avoid the other songs. The triggers are still too much for me. Just turn off the radio, and avoid playing our collection of CDs. Also, I still avoid playing my guitar. Piped in music, I can’t escape. Some songs stop me in my tracks. Christmas last year was brutal. I don’t expect that to change for a long while.
I’m so tied…so tied to you, honey. Always have been; always will be.