TCF Ballons

Recently, I was honored to be asked to sing at a balloon release for The Compassionate Friends in Frankfort, Kentucky. We have a lovely little memory garden in a park near my home. Surrounding a central bronze statue of children at play is a circle paved with bricks. Those bricks are inscribed with the names of loved ones who have moved into the next life. One of them has my sister Cyndy’s name on it. Outside that circle are benches and rocks large enough to sit quietly listening to the sound of the nearby stream.

Each year, new bricks are added. Each year we say a few words, read the names of the newly minted bricks and share a moment or two of silence. We remember and we grieve. We celebrate those lives and we long for reunion.

This year, after the time in the garden concluded, we moved out into the meadow. Our gathering of loving, hurting, caring, grieving, wonderful people tied messages to balloons. Our regional coordinator counted to three and dozens of purple, white, pink and blue balloons were set free to rise above the trees and up into a beautiful blue sky. I couldn’t tell you what was more amazing; the sight of those dancing colorful dots seemingly on their way straight to heaven, or the wistful loving smiles on all those faces as they shaded their eyes and stared up into the sky.

There is a sense of family at these gatherings. We find ourselves standing with other people who share this bond of emotion and experience. For a time, we know that we are not alone. For a time we feel sympathy without pity. We feel in a way, empowered to feel whatever is in our hearts, without judgment or discomfort from anyone.

After the balloon release, we walk down out of the meadow to share a pot-luck meal. The group extends support and understanding to any and all who come. Friends share news and new friends are made. There are tears, but also smiles. There is hope here and we trust in it’s sincerity.

For the occasion, I wrote a short song about something we all have in common. A stubborn love. A love that will not shrink away with time or allow itself to be denied. What the rest of the world doesn’t seem to get is that we’re not trying to hang on to our pain and grief. We just won’t let go of the love.

Should we? Does it make any sense to try and wipe away something that made us better? Make no mistake, real love does make us better. We learn self sacrifice and devotion and loyalty and all kinds of virtues when we love someone. When we suffer the loss of that loved one, why must we also lose the love? Why would anyone ask us to?

It’s true, we must all get out of bed and live our lives as best we can, even in the wake of devastating grief. But if someone asks you to “get over it” or ” let it go”, remember that we are on a journey that has no set speed or designated way points. We’re just doing the best we can to keep breathing, living and loving one day at a time.

So today, I want you to know that it’s quite all right to answer those who ask the impossible question , ” don’t you think it’s time you let go?” With four simple words. ” I don’t think so.” With that thought, I wrote the following poem and set it to music.

Some people say We’ll get over it
but I say – I don’t think so
Some say it’s time we should be moving on
but I say- I don’t think so.
I’m not saying I’m never moving forward
But I won’t leave my love behind.
I will cherish every smile I remember
and I know that someday I will find-

That place where we’re together
that time that lasts forever
that day when only tears of joy will fall
beyond the distant sea shore
that time we always prayed for
The day when pain is over for us all.
but till then if someone says I should let go
I’ll say – I don’t think so.

And if I ask am I ALL alone
I hear- I don’t think so.
If I wonder was that all for us
I hear – I don’t think so
I’m not saying we’re never moving forward
But we won’t leave our love behind.
We will cherish every smile we remember
and we know that someday we will find –

That place where we’re together
that time that lasts forever
that day when only tears of joy will fall
beyond the distant sea shore
that time we always prayed for
The day when pain is over for us all.
but till then if someone says we should let go
we’ll say – I don’t think so.

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Michael Nunley

Michael Nunley's love for music began in his youth. He was singing in churches and sharing the stage with well known performers in shows and television appearances all across the Ohio Valley. Growing up in a military family, Michael traveled extensively. He considers himself blessed to have experienced the beauty and diversity of so much of our world and it's people. Michael was a music scholarship recipient at Walters State College and at The University of Tennessee. As a member of the U.T. Singers, he toured and performed as a soloist with "Tennessee's Musical Ambassadors." He continued his involvement in the performing arts, playing guitar, bass, synthesizer and percussion as well as expanding his vocal abilities. He began to write and record his own music while serving as Interim Worship Leader at his church. It was during this time he produced his first CD of original songs as a music department fund raiser. In 2010, the Governor of Kentucky awarded Michael membership in The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, the state's highest title of honor, for writing and performing the theme song, "Because We Care", for the Kentucky Employee Charitable Contribution campaign. In 2000, tragedy struck twice, causing Michael to have a deeply personal change in his attitude and understanding of loss and grief. His sister, Cyndy, took her own life shortly before his father, Col. Billy F. Nunley (U.S.A.F.) lost his fight with a cancerous brain tumor. Michael is profoundly grateful for the opportunity to have written a song for The Compassionate Friends in 2011, and he found the experience brought him a new level of healing. He hopes to pass along some comfort with his poetry and music. He encourages others to use the creative process of writing, as he has done, to take care of "spiritual housekeeping" and help "Define, Confine, and then Refine " the sorrow into a more constructive energy. Michael says, "Grief is natural. What's UN-natural is dying from it in solitude. Accepting help, learning from it and passing along the healing is far better. That seems to me to be a cycle of life that will expand our compassion without killing the possibility of joy."

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