This is Easter weekend. Easter is, if nothing else about redemption, and renewal. It's about sacrifice and forgiveness. About the greatest love one person can have for another.
It is also about life and death. Most of all It's about finding the strength and courage to move on after a great loss.
Death, that ominously, dark cloaked spirit and I are no strangers.
My first encounter with him, was the year I turned 12. My precious Grandfather, the greatest man I ever knew, died on my birthday. It was a shattered little girl that took her birthday cake and threw across the room that dark, rainy January day. I wanted to die too. My PawPaw was gone. Who would ever love me like he had? No one.
In the summer of my 16th year, I met a man who's music was, in my opinion, some of the most amazing, and wonderful I'd ever heard, or have since. I spent that summer with an aunt, who was a big fan, and close friend of Jim Croce's. Jim was on tour that summer (it would be his last). His song Bad, Bad LeRoy Brown had just topped the charts and people were really starting to recognize him and his talent. Aunt Willie (short for Willamina) drug me around with her from town to town following Jim. She adored him. It wasn't that she was IN LOVE with him. She knew he was married, and had a new baby, she just loved his music and him. Not romantic love, more like kindred spirits love. Anyway, even though I was just a kid, I 'got' Jim's music and I too loved it. I remember him being so nice. He called me "the kid". I loved to sit and listen to him sing. Jim had a way of drawing you into his world when he was singing. He made me feel grown up and special.
I will always remember the last time I saw him. I was sitting not five feet away, singing I've Got A Name. My hero worship peaked. That was late in August, just before I returned home for school. I had the biggest crush on him. Less than a month later Jim would die. On September 20th, in Natchitoches, LA., Jim and the four other passengers, were killed instantly. I can remember crying for days. How could God be so cruel? Jim was such a beautiful man, and he had such talent. Over and over I cried, Why, Why, Why?
There were no answers for that heartbroken 16 year old.
Later that year, I discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd. For months I listened to every song I could find by them. I loved everything they did. When summer came and my cousin Deborah invited me to go to camp with her, I figured why not? It was better than hanging out in the hell I called home. A alcoholic step-father, a detatched, co-dependent mother, and three younger brothers who loved to torment me was not my idea of a great summer vacation.
You can imagine my surprise and excitement to find out she had no intention of going to 'camp'. Instead we loaded up our bags, hit the road and became roadies for, yep, you guessed it , Lynyrd Skynyrd! Actually we were more like groupies, but we did get to hang around with the band. They even let us help load and unload, and do set up sometimes. Hey, we were two cute little girls (she a blond, me a brunette) it's not like they were going to turn us down. We had the time of our lives. It was different back then. The guys treated us with respect and no one expected us to 'sleep' with them in return for having the fun of hanging out with them. To this day when I hear "What's Your Name (little girl)" I feel like they're singing that song just for me. That was the best summer of my life.
Three years later my new husband, his best friend Jake, and I (four months pregnant) attended a Skynyrd concert in Alabama. I still remember standing down front, getting stoned (yeah, yeah, I know 'terrible mommy') and swaying to Free Bird. I loved them as much as ever. Three months later their plane would crash in a swamp outside Gillsburg, MS. Ronnie, Steven and Cassie were all killed. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. This time I didn't even bother to ask why. I knew there would be no answer.
I swore then and there I'd NEVER, EVER be a fan again. So you can understand why I hesitate to let myself get to attached to any one artist. Even when their music touches me so very deeply.
I've lost other's in my life. My "first" serious boyfriend committed suicide our senior year in high school. I came close to loosing my own mind over that. It took many years, a lot of drugs and a life long addiction to food as a crutch, for me to understand, it wasn't MY fault. He was a trouble, tortured young man, and there was nothing I could have done to prevent what happened. Still the pain is there. It never goes away. Even now so many years later I can still see his face and hear the sound of his voice. Somethings never leave your mind. Tequila (or Jack) helps, but eventually the morning comes, and you have to get up and face the world. Ready or not, life goes on.
I knew and understood the pain and heartache of loosing someone you love. But I refused to let it define who I was, or who I became.
Then again, maybe not. Maybe my refusal to deal with the heartache, and the pain, is exactly what brought me to where I am today. A woman standing at a crossroads in her life. Do I stay or do I go? Do I try to start over, or do I simply accept this is the hand I've been dealt and learn to live with it?
This Easter I know I've some hard choices to make. Choices that will affect everyone in my life. The one thing I know for certain is, I can't go on like this. I'm not doing myself or anyone else any good. If anything I'm hurting us all. I've prayed about it, but like before, I've mostly gotten unanswered prayers. So, I guess this one I will have to do alone. No biggie. I think maybe alone is what I do best.