Friday, January 11, 2008

Bad Blogger, Sad Blogger

Depression. Illness. Exhaustion. Stress. Obligation. Grief. Sorrow. Guilt. You name it; it stopped me in my tracks. No blog.

It was a rough holiday season. Health scares took up an unbelievable amount of time, energy and emotion, leaving both of us frustrated and drained. Thankfully, everyone is on the mend, no real catastrophes. Hence the guilt at feeling so blue when I should be feeling so blessed. But the whole thing started a spiral into darkness during what normally is my favorite time of the year.

Christmas. The preparations, the decorating, the carols, the cookies, the movies, the shopping, the wrapping of presents while sipping hot mulled wine. Lights and trees and celebrations, waking up to moonlight on new fallen snow. I usually love Christmas time. Sure, I made cookies for everyone, (and they turned out great) and I did my bit with the church choirs, but not much else got done. I’m not a good nurse-maid. I’m not a good patient. I’m not a patient nurse-maid. One frustrating personal crisis seemed to follow another. Joy was not in my soul, depression and panic attacks weighed on my heart. This year I actually uttered the words, “I wish Christmas would just be over.” And then Dan Fogelberg died.

No, you don’t understand. Dan Fogelberg died.

Dan’s music and my life are inextricably intertwined. I spent untold hours learning to play guitar to Homefree & Souvenirs. Play, lift the needle, back up, drop, play, lift the needle, back up, drop, over and over and over. The darkness and peace of Netherlands brought a glimmer of hope to me at my most angst-ridden moments of youth. At my urging, we sang Along The Road at my high school graduation. An emotional New Year’s Eve was spent sobbing over unrequited love with my best friend as Same Old Lang Syne provided the soundtrack. When I broke up with my lead guitarist, he sang The Last Nail to me. After meeting my husband, we discovered our LP duplicates included every Dan Fogelberg release. Song From Half Mountain graced our wedding. You can even hear my “whoo!” on the Songs From The West live CD that was recorded at the Fox Theatre here in St. Louis.

Everyone knew the cancer would eventually take him, but knowledge is not comfort. Upon hearing the news I spent hours cradling my guitar, crying over the strings, playing every Dan Fogelberg song I could remember. Lyrics and progressions that I’d not played in two decades poured from me like it was yesterday. Surely I was not doing this on my own. My hands ached, my heart ached, but who was I to weep? This man was not my lover, he was not my friend, he was not my blood, nor kin. And yet, he was all of those. Born of the heartland, raised by a river, consoled by nature, transcended in music; both of us, all of us. Songs of quiet, hymns to nature, love lost and found, raw rock energy, raging anger. These were the reflections of his life, wrapped around my life. Yes, he was all those; of course I wept, and I was not alone in my sorrow, or in my joy of remembrance. Thousands like me, touched by his spirit, sang hymns to the silence that night.

And so, with that cathartic break, I return. The humble Rural Gurl.

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