As my step-sister Katie said upon leaving Denver this morning, “I’ve got a case of the Sundays.” But let’s focus on the positives: I had wonderful visitors this weekend, it’s a beautiful day outside, and I used a shop vac like a boss this morning.
We visited Red Rocks this weekend and enjoyed the view from the top, after we climbed the bleachers as a rite of passage for their first trip to the amphitheater. It was a perfect day with blue skies and a light breeze, and we wandered all over town soaking it up over local craft beers. #Denver.
Before we left Red Rocks, I took a silly photo with the statue of John Denver – it’s a long story and an inside joke, but it brought back wonderful childhood memories. We used to drive from Indiana to Myrtle Beach, or Virginia to see my great-grandma, in the summers. On those long drives when we weren’t allowed to sleep (shamed awake by my dad’s regular refrain of “Look out your windows! We’re in the Smoky Mountains! Appreciate what’s around you!”), we listened mostly to Brooks and Dunn, Clint Black, and John Denver.
Every time we hit West Virginia, we all belted “WEST VIRGINIA, mountain mama, take me home…country roads!”
The last time I was home, my mom gave me my dad’s CD case to take back with me. Opening it felt as significant as a time capsule. The Beatles 1 album beamed its red face out of its felt slot, reminding me of how we’d listen to it on the way home from tennis practice, and I would share my naive, new-born notions about capital M “Music” and how perfect every song was.
I flipped through the options until I reached Clint Black’s The Hard Way. I played it in my Honda CR-V, a later model of the same car he used to drive, and though I hadn’t listened to those songs in over 15 years, every note felt familiar. I laughed as I struggled to find the right key and remembered how my dad once told me to sing in tune or be quiet (Clint Black, for some reason, is my sing-a-long kryptonite).
I remembered us being so excited to him in the movie Maverick, and how he was listed in the credits as “Sweet-faced gambler.”
I’ve been feeling my dad’s presence so much lately, and it’s bringing with it memories I thought were lost. While I’m so grateful for their return, I’m starting to realize that it has taken me 14 years to heal enough for these times to start coming back into focus. And I don’t feel disappointed in myself or anything negative, I’m simply marveling that I’ve been healing the whole time – that my mind and soul intuitively understood when I was ready to start the next phase of healing.
What’s even better is that I know now that I’ll feel him alongside me. When you lose someone close, you feel like you need to push through the pain until you have faced the reality that you’ll never see or talk to them again (well, that’s how I felt, anyway), at least until the afterlife, depending on your religious persuasion. What I’m starting to realize is…maybe I don’t have to face that notion because it isn’t necessarily reality.
He may not be physically present, but he’s with me every time I hear “Better Man,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” or “Can’t Buy Me Love.” He’s with me when I refuse to sleep on road trips because I want to soak up everything around me. He was with me when I sat down to write this and turned on the TV to find Last Action Hero, a cheesy Schwarzenegger movie he loved.
It’s still hard every day, but I’m looking forward to this next phase, featuring a little more trust that he’s along for the ride with me, just the same as if he were still here. I don’t know how things will change, but for now, I’m grateful.
Here’s wishing you a week filled with connection, love, and happy memories. Oh, and some great tunes.