Given to Fly (Day 262)

As I write this, I am waiting at a Wawa in asbury park, Nj. A shirtless man (well, topless to be exact, he is wearing a shirt on his head) just busted in and demanded to know where the marinara sauce was. 

He asked three times and then, when someone pointed, he happily went off for his marinara sauce (I mean I assume so.).

I cannot stop laughing about his request. 

It is wawa. At midnight. You don’t need marinara sauce, you need to go home! 

Last night at this time, I was deep in the pit of grief. Tonight, I find myself smiling about being in the pit at Pearl Jam.

(Full disclosure, it is a proverbially concert pit. I am too old to jump and push around others, who are also too old for that and might break a hip.)

Anyway, life is a wild ride, isn’t it? One moment, you are sobbing over your brother and Crystal Barbie and the next, you are rocked with joy hearing your favorite band on the planet after 3 long years without them live.

Eddie has aged; his dad jokes have become more like granddad jokes. 

But, if anything, it makes me feel young. 

I’ve loved Pearl Jam since I was 14 years old. That’s 2 years longer than I loved my husband, whom I’ve loved for what feels like my whole life. I only allowed a conversation to happen with Mike because it was about Pearl Jam and Nirvana and the Singles Soundtrack. 

Recounting how long I’ve Pearl Jam makes me feel “lived.” Their music has been there through high school and college and summers and pain and intense joy and sorrow and now, on a September Saturday, the day after I felt my lowest. Every time I listen to Pearl Jam live or on the radio I hear something new—something else that resonates with me.

Music is like that. It changes you and reaches you in places that were once closed. My brother loved music—it filled his whole body and it is no wonder there were no places in my brother that were off limits. Every piece of him was open and loving and moving to the rhythm. 

Last night, some of you thought finding his picture was a message from him. But, it felt like the universe mocking me—teasing me with my grief.

And that was not my brother. My brother was at the show tonight—he was in my husband’s last minute idea to look for tickets to the sold out show (after we had spent the day driving to early Cree practice, then at the Temple Football home opener and after that the town Block Party).  It was in my neighbor’s support picking up one kid from a late play practice. It was in the smooth ride to Asbury Park. It was in the path lit by the moon on the Atlantic Ocean-what I always called a “mermaid moon,” when I was a kid.

It was in every song that rocked through that crowd. My brother was in “Given to Fly,” when tonight I thought of David just free from the chains that held his words back. Oh how I hope he is flying. 

And tonight, it was in “Present Tense,” when I realized my grief is driven not just by sorrow and loss, but by my inability to forgive myself and live rooted, right in the present tense, which happens to be a Wawa with a bunch of 40 years old all a little sore and a lot overjoyed after a Pearl Jam Show.