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Stumble Into Grace, Emmylou Harris

Nonesuch Records, September 23, 2003

Track Listing: 1. Here I Am, 2. I Will Dream, 3. Little Bird, 4. Time in Babylon, 5. Can You Hear Me Now, 6. Strong Hand, 7. Jupiter Rising, 8. O Evangeline, 9. Plaisir dAmour, 10. Lost Unto This World, 11. Cup of Kindness

How was I to know? Maybe you knew? It seemed like any other day, really. It was noticeably peaceful, sure. We were listening to Emmylou’s new album. I bought it earlier in the morning while you were still sleeping. But it was an uneventful day. Standard fare. A typical Saturday afternoon.

Was it all a dream? The snow fell gently outside the windows like in an old Hollywood movie. I’ve always hated snow (you knew that already). But not that day. I suppose the first snows of winter are invariably precious. Before January’s blasts. You know, I don’t even remember whether you liked snow. Isn’t that strange?

“Before your heart began to wander
And mine was torn asunder
Before the fairer and the younger
Before the crying game”

-fromI Will Dream

How we enjoyed the fireplace on Fremont. That day, for good measure, we lit candles too. Our shadows climbed the walls, swaying to the music, hovering over us like graveyard ghosts. We listened. The music and crackling fire were vying for attention. We barely spoke. I wonder now, were you as at peace that day as I remember or were the demons hemorrhaging through that moment too?

“O the walls are closin’ in
I can feel it in my bones”

-fromCan You Hear Me Now

You broke the silence to tell me how much you loved the music. I agreed. Rare, huh? Emmylou whispered sweetly. We listened intently. Am I getting this right? Is this revisionist history? Do you remember how I was sitting, reclined on that old leather chair (the one we bought together)? I was so close to you I could have tapped your shoulder (had I tried). When I did touch you (one month later), I kissed my index finger and pressed it against a cheek of ice. I could never have expected that cold. Did you feel it?

“But I’m sinkin’ like a stone
To where in solitude this life I’ll spend
In the coldest place I’ve ever known
I’m here just waitin’ until the end I send up my S.O.S.
A message in a bottle set out to sea
It just reads “Soul in distress”
But nobody ever got back to me
Can you hear me now”

-fromCan You Hear Me Now

I’ve tried to imagine your suffering but cannot touch the void. I have wished a thousand wishes, if only to have eased your burden.

“But darlin’
if you heart’s still cold
Hide away, hide away ill trouble you no more
Trouble you no more”

-fromLittle Bird

“O Evangeline you have been a prisoner here
Bread and roses we shall bring
To you Evangeline”

-fromOh Evangeline

They gave you the nickname “TFL” (Too Fucking Loud). But now, I hear nothing but horrendous silence. What we’d give, any of us, for one more ridiculous burst of laughter.

“Joys of love
Are but a moment long
Pain of love endures
The whole lifelong”

-fromPlaisir D’Amour

“You can blame it on the devil
It don’t matter anymore
I am lost unto this world”

-fromLost Unto This World

Isn’t it strange, that I can put on this tiny CD—it is the size of my palm—and ride the damn thing straight back to that day? Did it cross your mind then as we were listening that I might return here? It will always be our December day, when we shared wine and music, shared our lives. Your frenzied fingers are still pounding the keys behind me, in the midst of another marathon Scrabble session. I am dreaming of your next triple word score.

“And when the moon is full like my heart
It will surely pull you to my side
But in the darkest night I pine away
Pine away until your face I see”

-fromLittle Bird

Certainly, it is not easy. The road of the survivor is long and lonely, although I am never completely alone. Invisible you.

“Still with every turn the world
Becomes a sadder place
It swallows up the ones
You have loved the most
So you sleep with none
You wake with ghosts”

-fromOh Evangeline

I can only be thankful for what time we had, right? Isn’t that how it goes? Sometimes, I am there. I really am. So thankful. So very thankful.

“For it’s a miracle
How one soul finds another
Just one miracle
Is all it took my brother
And I will see them
Someday they’ll walk again together
I believe, I believe
This I believe, I believe”

-fromStrong Hand

It is not time that forces our hand. Grief is a torch that can be carried forever. Time does not heal. It is merely a cloud that provides shades to deaden us.

Memories are to be cherished, but not held captive. We tip toe around the delicate balance. I search for you in dreams, but also know at last that it is here where our journeys must diverge.

“So be off my little bird
Fly away, fly away”

-fromLittle Bird