Songs of good-byes

A saying has it that when a person dies, his sense of hearing is the last to go (source: I wonder if that has anything to do with how we associate certain songs and tunes with the deaths we experience in our living times. Of course it’s difficult to prove without first-hand experience, but I’m willing to wait.

I imagine myself hovering to “the top” (whatever that means), thinking to myself “huh, they were right”. About everything. What would be my tune or my song to go to?

The first person I remember to die in my life was a friend of our family’s. I don’t think we were too close, but  she and her husband were friends with my parents. I remember being at their house for get-togethers and taking bike tours with our local village bowling club. Her name was Edeltraut – “Traute”- she died of lung cancer. I remember her face being wrinkly and fallen-in from smoking. Everybody smoked in the 80’s. I wasn’t older than 5 or 6 when I last saw her in their family living room.

When the news reached me that she had passed, I had been listening to a tape I recorded off the radio. I know the songs on that tape to this day. I want to break free… Queen. At 5 or 6, I didn’t appreciate Queen. It was half a song I accidentally recorded into the commercial break. But it’s one of the songs I’ll always associate with her death.

I imagine how it is- going up there. All your ancestors, souls you’ve never met, spirits that have been watching you and guiding you in a way you will never understand until you’re one of them, awaiting you. They hug you, high-five you, tell you “man, what the heck was that?” – And you have no words. You just shake your head… and let it happen.

Uttering nothing but “I don’t know… But it was so much fun”. Everybody nods.

You can finally sit down, look at all the angles of all the situations you’ve been in…. And go “yeah.. I should not have taken everything so damn seriously”.

The thing is… We will never know until we are free. Free to go “up there”, or wherever it is you believe we will go. We have no idea what is going to happen, except for what we believe or don’t believe in – and believing can be strong, but it’s never proof. I believe that the greatest thing we can do in the time that has been given to us is to bring other people joy. As ideal and unrealistic and Hollywood as it may sound… I choose feeling guilty or “played” any old day as long as I can make someone happy. Remembering someone… Appreciating them for what they have done during their time on this earth – there is no greater gift.

Forgetting is one of the bigger sins. If you forget, your heart goes cold. Even if you don’t forgive – whatever you do, just don’t forget.

The last person I saw going was my grandfather (on my dad’s side). I still feel his presence – not as much as others’, but I know he’s there. And yes, you can call me crazy J. I saw him lying on his hospital bed. I think he was 82, 83… something like that. His mouth was wide open, he stared at the ceiling. Eyes open in fear… or redemption… I couldn’t tell. I was 18… I think.

I had seen him a day before he passed – he was in a coma, but I was sure that he could hear me. I said all my good-byes, no regrets, nothing left unsaid, at least at that age. The funeral was like I would’ve imagined it. I had never been to a funeral of someone that close to me. It seemed cold. It wasn’t what I would have wanted for him. But I believe that it doesn’t even matter.

Enya’s “only time” was playing at the time when he died. I will always associate the song with his passing.

Whenever I hear Queen or Enya – I think about those moments. They are part of me – the artists had very little to do with it. Only time. Time will tell – it always does.


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