Friendships end, people drift apart, marriages dissolve…lots of relationships end every day for various reasons. It’s just a part of life. Things open and bloom and then they fade and disappear. And after they do, it’s difficult to look back on it all with a smile, isn’t it? Usually when relationships end, they end for negative reasons and unfortunately that negativity overshadows all the wonderful things you no doubt shared with that person. What once was so sweet and special suddenly turns dark and sour.
One of the things I always share with people I’m involved with is music. I generally don’t make friends without music being involved in some way. Music is such a big part of my life so I suppose I don’t make true connections without it in some way. And music is just one of those things that can trigger a memory unlike any other…like a smell. You can hear a song and immediately be transported back to a certain place with a certain person. It’s our own little time machine.
I hear ‘Centerfield’ by John Fogerty and I’m 9 years old again, at a Braves game, sweaty and dirty-kneed, peanut shells at my feet.
I hear ‘You Can Call Me Al’ by Paul Simon and I’m 6 years old- jumping on the couch, barefoot in a nightgown with my brother while my dad does his little ‘dad dance’ in the middle of the living room.
I hear ‘I Am A Town’ by Mary Chapin Carpenter and I think of my sweet cousin, whom I don’t have anymore. My mother and his father used to sing this song during their set and he, sitting at that dining room table, said it was his favorite. Nobody heard it but me. It’s his song now.
I hear ‘In My Life’ by The Beatles and it makes me think of my mother quietly singing it in my ear as we rode along the dirt path in St. John to the beach where I was to be wed to my best friend.
I hear ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley or k.d. Lang and I think of my college friend whom I no longer have. I think of my sweet friends singing and playing it at his funeral and me not being able to breathe from all the tears.
Every song that means something to me has a person and a place attached to it. But what happens when that person leaves? Breaking up with a friend means breaking up with the music that came along with it. A song that once brought you so much joy is now something that you simply can’t listen to anymore. And that’s almost as sad as the breakup! And that just doesn’t seem fair, does it? This song, this perfectly good song, this amazing song is now tainted.
That’s the power of music. That’s the power of the brain. Of memory.
I think that time can heal this though…I think that eventually you’ll be able to listen to that song again. Maybe a new memory will attach itself to it as you go on and live your life, or maybe you just let go of the negativity and take it for what it is now…a song that even though isn’t about someone in your current life, still has good memories attached to it- sweet smiles and giggles, hugs and days in the sun. It took me years to be able to listen to ‘Hallelujah’ without sobbing. But now I can. I still get misty, but it’s ok.
So what happens to the songs until you’re ready to accept them again? Maybe there’s a little music box somewhere. Maybe every time you skip over a song on your playlist because you can’t take the memories, it goes into that box. Maybe your heart keeps that box hidden away until one day you don’t skip over that song. One day you let it play. And you allow yourself to remember the things you shared with that person, the places you went, the conversations you had, and you take it for what it still is. A beautiful song that brought you to where you are today.