I was afraid. If death could just sweep in and take Duane and Jody, then none of us is safe. Her death robbed me of an innocence of sorts…the belief that we all will live full lives surrounded by the people we love. But that all changed on January 26, 2003, and, now, I am a realist.
I’ve talked with thousands of people who have been in crisis of one form or another. I’ve walked through the grief process with friends who have lost babies, born and unborn, husbands, children and parents. So it’s not like I live in a bubble. But something was rocked and broken. Jody was gone and not coming back, and I was left in the rubble, numb and limp. I was personally forced to live in a new place, where death is real and can happen any time and anywhere…to ones I love. It just seemed so unfair. That made me angry, too.
I wondered about the plane crash. How could it have happened? Did Duane have a heart attack? Did the engine malfunction? This all made me angry at a loss that could not be recovered. Somehow violent death had a more preventable feel to it than a stroke or cancer would have. That was my experience.
I took me almost a year before I had the emotional strength to listen to “our songs.” I tried a number of times to listen to melodies we sang for years together, but I’d collapse in a pile of tears. But I knew that music had return to my life to water my soul and bring much needed comfort.
Fernando Ortega, a song-writer and singer was a favorite of both Jody’s and mine, put much of my feelings in a song he wrote, entitled “Now That You Are Gone”. The refrain made me weep: “Sometimes I still think I will see you in New York, and we’ll meet on the platform of the train, and with your great leaning stride you’ll cross back to my side, and my old life will be my life again.”
I folded in tears. I fiercely wanted my old life back.
In time, I reintroduced music—our music—to my life. I don’t cry any more, no long breakdown. In a way I did not expect, the music became a comfort, something I could participate in, and remember the years we enjoyed.