What would those who died say to their loved ones if they could somehow get a message across? I asked that question over and over in my mind in April 1995 after the bombing in Oklahoma City shook the country and 168 people including nineteen children lost their lives. The loss of innocent life was tragic enough. And then I imagined the loved ones who survived at home, who never realized when they had awakened that morning, how their lives would be permanently altered. There was no opportunity to say goodbye. My sister-in-law and her family resided in Oklahoma City. They were unharmed but were friends with a family whose son survived the bombing (but was seriously injured) because he had gone to the bathroom right before the blast.
I sat at my piano and began to write a song. I said what my heart told me to say; what I believed those who died might wish to say to their loved ones if their voices could still be heard. I recorded the song, sent it to my family in Oklahoma—and that was that.
In September 2001 planes struck the World Trade Center. It was surreal: wallboard and particles of furniture raining down like mutated confetti; scores of people running, covered with soot and ash; fire like Hiroshima. When the dust settled and the digging began, when rescue workers removed bodies and carried them with such dignity and solemnity, I went back to my piano and re-recorded my song, making a few small changes.
In the summer of 2012 more innocent lives were lost. The shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colorado. The killings inside a Sikh temple. And of course the loss of our troops.
It seemed to me that my song shouldn’t be collecting digital dust inside my computer. It is not a sad song. It was always meant as an anthem of hope. And I do believe that those who lost their lives would agree with the sentiments and want their loved ones on earth to remember that love is stronger than hate and that goodbyes are not forever. Please listen for yourself. The song is free. Love and hope are beyond any value.

Paul Coleman

Dr. Paul Coleman is a psychologist in private practice for over thirty years and the author of a dozen books including his most recent “Finding Peace When Your Heart Is in Pieces” (ADAMS MEDIA, 2014). He has appeared on national television shows such as “OPRAH” and “TODAY” and has appeared on dozens of national radio shows including NPR and WABC. Dr. Coleman specializes in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as well helping people through grief and other life transitions. For fun, Paul enjoys acting and has appeared in over forty community theater stage productions. He recently appeared as a grief counselor in the HBO series “I Know This Much Is True” starring Mark Ruffalo. He has written several stage plays—as yet unpublished—but has had readings of his plays performed in New York City and Austin, Texas. Paul and his wife have three children and four grandchildren.

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