Well, not really upset so much as . . . I used to be upset.
There were a number of things that used to bother me the first year after losing my wife. For new readers . . . I lost my wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. It was unexpected, fast, and like the song says . . . like being hit by a falling tree.
I used to have the hardest time with the smallest things in that first year. Little things . . . she stole little things away from me. I used to have the greatest love for the guitar because of the King of the Blues, BB King. It’s funny, too, because I called Andrea my “Sweet Little Angel” and people always assumed it was because of a song I’d written for Andrea of a similar title.
I called her that because of the King of the Blues. In that same concert from the song up there Riley B. King had a song called Sweet Little Angel that simply said “I got a sweet little angel. I love the way she spreads her wings.” That was her. His lyric, his line, it inspired me to write my own song for her.
But when Andrea passed away there were a lot of things I couldn’t face and, to be brutally honest, it pissed me off. I couldn’t (and still can’t) listen to Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight because it was her favorite song of his. I also couldn’t bring myself to listen to BB King’s Live at the Regal, which bothered me almost more . . . because it’s one of the records that got me wanting to play the guitar.
But unexpectedly, the other day I stumbled on an old interview I was lucky enough to do with BB when I worked in Omaha.
It also led me back to Live at the Regal. To my complete surprise, I was listening to the album . . . the entire LP, including Sweet Little Angel and I realized that it wasn’t affecting me the way it used to. Sure, there are memories with it, and many of those involve my late wife. Many don’t.
It isn’t as hard as it was in the beginning, to see these things come to pass. In the first year it was like small pieces of Andrea were floating away, like the drifting, wafting embers that float around you when you’re at a campfire. Each memory that left floated away, you think, never to be seen again. That’s a hard thing to come to terms with. You dread sleeping because you’re alone . . . then you dread it because you don’t know what memories your mind is going to purge. You grasp at them and chase them like Frankenstein after his imaginary butterflies.
But then that thinking changes. Some take years to do it. Others never find the peace of mind. I seem to have gained a different perspective in the last year or so. The memories aren’t gone, not forever. They’re just tucked away somewhere. I also realized, to my surprise, that I know my life wasn’t defined by marriage. It was part of me, and a part I was sad to leave behind, but it doesn’t – and it didn’t – define who I am totally and completely. I was still a musician, a writer, a journalist, and a Dad. I lost a lot, I know that.
I also have a lot of times that hurt. March 26th will likely never be a pleasant day. It’s the day I married Andrea and the day I lost her. October 30th, her birthday, that’s hard. She took a lot of things with her I thought were mine alone when I brought them to our relationship.
But it seems, just a little, like I finally got something back. A piece of myself and a piece of my past that gives me a whole lot of joy.
Even if it is from the King of the Blues.