My dad loves music. Growing up, he had these massive speakers in our living room, and when my mom was out of the house, he’d crank them up so high that the floor would shake. He loves classic rock, and so I spent my childhood listening to the Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Eagles, among many others. As a kid, I didn’t fully appreciate that my dad was “cool” in this realm because, well, he was my dad. But I remember in the early days of my friendship with Shawn, he was impressed by my ability to sing along to every word of a number of classic rock karaoke hits without any notes in front of me.
Music was also one of the ways that Shawn and my dad connected. Every time they were together, they would spend hours talking about the greatest singer-songwriters, especially once my dad retired and would come and stay with us for weeks at a time. It was one of their favorite things to do, and sometimes when my dad was visiting, I’d catch them downstairs in the wee hours of the night debating the merits of a particular song or artist.
One of the groups they both loved was Fleetwood Mac. (Though I guess most people who love classic rock love Fleetwood Mac – how can you not?) So when my friend Abby texted me last week that she had an extra ticket to their concert, I couldn’t turn her down. If you’re following along with my blog, you’ll note that last week was particularly terrible for me and I almost didn’t go….but in the end, I decided that I was going to do something that I could actually enjoy.
I met up with Abby and two of her friends on a freezing Tuesday night in downtown DC. The crowd that waited outside the security line was diverse in terms of age, but I have to say I loved seeing the amount of gray hair entering the arena. “My dad should be here!” I said to Abby. (He was on vacation in Texas, so he couldn’t be.)
We got inside right as the concert started and Fleetwood Mac didn’t disappoint. They played all the hits. At one point, Abby looked over at me and said, “I don’t think I know this song,” and I said, “oh, I know every single word. My dad played this on repeat growing up.”
I could have said it about every song. I sang along with all the lyrics and felt as though I was ten years old again in my living room with the green carpet.
I had been hopeful that the night would be a distraction from my life – the one that was making me feel like I could barely get out of bed in the morning. But here’s the rub – Fleetwood Mac’s best album is all about the end of love. It’s called “Rumors” and though it came out before I was born, I grew up on it. Even if you don’t know Fleetwood Mac, you would recognize a number of songs from the album. At the time “Rumors” was recorded, the band was engaging in all sorts of unhealthy behavior, and seemingly everyone in the band was breaking up.
But it led to great music. And that night, I realized how much of it spoke to my pain. The second song on the Rumors album, “Dreams”, might be about a breakup, but the lyrics were everything I’ve felt over the past 14 months:
But listen carefully to the sound
Of your loneliness
Like a heartbeat drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost, and what you had, and what you lost
I sang at the top of my lungs. It was cathartic. “I love this,” I said to Abby, and I wasn’t kidding. I was totally in the moment for the entire concert – a rarity in my life these days. The sadness that I constantly feel didn’t lift. But for a bit, the anxiety did.
Maybe one of the reasons I could be so in the moment is that the lead singer, Stevie Nicks, is just magical. In case you are not aware, she is SEVENTY, but she moves on that stage like someone 30 years younger. She’s one of those people who can pull you out of your head and into the music.
So when she sang “Landslide” I knew I was going to lose it. Because “Landslide” has the best chorus about love and loss, particularly the first two lines:
Well, I’ve been ‘fraid of changin’
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
Abby put her arms around me. We sang every word though I could only choke out part of them due to the fact that I was crying so hard.
Because aren’t those lyrics exactly what the past 14 months have been for me? I built my life – my whole entire adult life – around Shawn. And once he was gone, it was impossible to imagine how I’d live without him.
And I was afraid of everything. But mostly, I was afraid of living without him.
I still am. In fact, I think this is what has been causing my deep anxiety that’s come up in recent weeks. I am afraid of being alone. I am afraid of what my life is without Shawn. I am afraid to change into something that he might not recognize.
I still get up every morning and face the world, and I only rarely have to leave work early to cry in the parking lot. I still snuggle my kids at night and I still manage to make dinner most days.
But I do it all with this fear of my new life boiling under the surface.
Maybe Stevie Nicks felt a certain kind of deep fear when she wrote her lyrics. Or maybe she was just high on cocaine. Either way, “Landslide” made me cry. Because I have been so afraid lately.
Fleetwood Mac ended the concert with “Don’t Stop.” I jumped up and down as they started to sing and I belted out the lyrics. And wow – those words spoke to me. Yes, the album (and this song in particular) was about a breakup. But damn if it didn’t feel exactly like the band wrote it for me as a bit of inspiration.
If you wake up and don’t want to smile
If it takes just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You’ll see things in a different way
Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be, better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone
It might not be better than before, but tomorrow is coming. And there’s no other option but to open my eyes and continue to face the days.