Dearest Rachel –
I’ll have to dredge up the mix tapes we sent each other to confirm it (yes, you know I kept copies of each one since those days), but I’m pretty sure this song was on one of the ones I sent you. And yes, I’m spelling out “To You” rather than using “2 U” like Prince did when he wrote it. You’d give me no end of grief about it otherwise.
“It’s been seven hours and fifteen days
Since you took your love away
I know I should be counting from 9:32pm, when the tubes were removed, and you truly breathed your last. But if what the doctor said was at all accurate, you were probably pretty much gone even as you lay at the bottom of the hill. So here it is, at about 10:30 p.m. on February 7th. Fifteen days and seven hours since you slid down that hill…
…and into eternity.
I go out every night and sleep all day
Since you took your love away
Well… not quite. Any problems with my sleep schedule, I’m still pinning on Chompers at this point. But things are starting to settle down for now, I think.
And I should make clear that you didn’t take your love away. It just went with you when you had to go, that’s all. As much as I like this song, and much as I feel it, there are things that just don’t track with our lives. This is a post-breakup song, after all – which involves a different kind of grief, but a grief nonetheless.
Actually, it wasn’t appropriate while we were courting, for this same reason. We weren’t broken up. We were separated, yes, but only by distance.
Of course, now the distance we’re separated by is humanly insurmountable. For now.
Since you been gone, I can do whatever I want
I can see whomever I choose
I know I remember discussing this with you at some point. For my part, I told you I hoped that you would have enjoyed being married to me such that, when I passed from your life, you would be looking to repeat the experience. I think you responded with wondering who on earth I thought you’d be similarly happy with – or have a similarly wonderful experience with. I admit to not having any idea, but that the question was purely theoretical at the time.
I don’t recall if I ever got similar permission to find someone else. I suppose you’re in no position to stop me, but…
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
But nothing, I said nothing can take away these blues
Do? Well… Daniel and I were saying as much to Pastor Scott on Friday, when we met him for lunch at the Station. We told him how it seemed disrespectful to be here when you couldn’t – we never went to a place like that when you were away, like when you were at your folks or some such.
But you know, everything from now on will be tainted with either “she loved this place, we can’t go here without her,” or “she would have loved this place, we can’t go here without her.” We’d never be able to go anywhere again, ever.
I’m pretty sure that’s not what you would have wanted.
‘Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you
No, nothing does. So much reminds me of you, though.
It’s been so lonely without you here
Like a bird without a song
Even with Daniel around, it really isn’t the same. It’s just… empty around here.
There is so much you did around here that I guess I never really knew about. And now I’ve no idea how to do what you did.
And as for ‘our’ music, it just kind of hurts to listen to. Even the stuff we never listened to together is uncomfortable, as I wish I could share it with you, and can’t. Just like with the restaurants.
We’ve got to move on at some point, but this is not that point yet.
Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling
Tell me baby, where did I go wrong?
Another reminder that this is a breakup song, not just a ‘we’re so far apart’ song, and certainly not a ‘you’re dead and I miss you’ song.
At the risk of excusing myself, the only thing I could have done was to try to stop you from that last slide down the hill. Would you have believed me if I told you not to? I doubt it; all the other runs were perfectly unremarkable, why would this one have been any different? There’s nothing to recriminate about, nothing to second guess. It just… happened… and there’s nothing that could have been done.
I wish I’d been there to hold you. But I would have just been in the way.
I could put my arms around every girl I see
But they’d only remind me of you
First of all, no I could not. I honestly don’t know when I’ll be able to do that to any girl without it being creepy or ‘too soon.’ Either way, this is something to cover in a whole separate post, someday…
The other line, though, could not be more spot-on.
I went to the doctor, guess what he told me, guess what he told me
He said, “Man, you better try to have fun, no matter what you do”
But he’s a fool
Now, I’ve got to call shenanigans on this line, Prince Rogers Nelson. Ain’t no doctor worth his medical degree who would up and tell someone this. “No matter what you do”? Seriously?
Of course, it may just be that your doctor is in fact, well and truly a fool after all. So there’s that.
‘Cause nothing compares, nothing compares to you
All the flowers that you planted mama
In the back yard
All died when you went away
Hm. I thought that last line was “all died and withered away.”
I remember when we first moved into our house from the condominium (your dad was emphatic that “I want my grandson to have a sandbox to play in,” when he and your mom helped us with financing the place), you were looking forward to having a garden and working in the back yard.
I don’t recall what happened with that garden, because I really didn’t have much to do with it. But I don’t think it lasted very long.
Even during this past year, when Twofeathers gave us a plant to take home and take care of (I think she thought of you because it had a purple tinge to its leaves), you tried to graciously refuse, suggesting that it might not do very well under your care.
She would have none of it. “I think you’ll be fine taking care of it.”
It’s still here in the house, but yeah… it’s not doing well. I probably should give it a cup of water, but I really don’t know.
I know that living with you baby was sometimes hard
But I’m willing to give it another try
Oh, but if only I could give it another try. I’d hold you that much closer, kiss you that much more often and deeply, and remember to tell you ‘I love you’ as often as possible. I want to think I did okay on those in the time we had, but there’s never enough time to give the affection you need and deserve in the finite amount of time we have.
Everyone loses track of time, when there seems to be so much of it.
And then, there isn’t any any more.
Nothing compares to you
No, no it doesn’t, honey.
And I wish you were still here because of that.