Tag Archives: sweet little angel

Running Forward While Looking Back . . .

The mischievous grin that pulled me in

Sweet Little Angel by BB King Live at the Regal Theater, 1964

It’s hard not to approach the 26th of March without looking back at the way things were.  Last night Hannah could barely sleep.  You have to understand, the kids all asked to be part of the video we’re making and rather than a fancy, over-produced piece with a professional camera and full light kit.  So we’ve been making the cards, putting together the pieces all hand-made and low-tech.  It’s more Davey and Goliath than Wall-E.

But seeing and hearing all this makes us look back.  Hannah, being the girl closest and nearly tethered to her mother, is having the hardest time.  She sees me editing and begs to see it before it’s finished and then starts to cry seeing the sentiments stated in it.  It makes me happy on one hand because it’s touching her.  It makes me sad because the last thing I want to do is hurt Hannah.  She is by far the sweetest, most amazingly sweet person I’ve met in my life and all I want to do in life is protect her from anyone hurting her.

I look back, though, and find myself swerving to avoid the trees because I’m looking back while trying to run forward.

What you need to understand about my relationship with Andrea is that when I met her I was so far out of her league I cannot believe I even was able to get her to talk to me.  I was the geeky, nerdy sidekick in all those romantic comedies.  When I walked up to women, I was so hurt, so shy, so lacking in self confidence that I stammered and came across like a giddy 16-year-old with no ability to talk to women.  By all accounts she should have turned around and walked back to the party laughing.  She walked back laughing, sure, but only after intertwining her arm in mine and talking to me as she walked.

Andrea would come see me play my guitar and ask herself “why is he up there like that and won’t let that person out when he’s not on the stage?”  She wouldn’t let up.  It was only after I thought “she’s moving away, if she turns me down I won’t have to face her for long” that I actually asked her out.  To my utter astonishment she didn’t say “no” she actually said “it’s about time, I was wondering how long it was going to take you!”  We agreed that she was moving, it wasn’t anything big, we would become amazing friends, have an amazing time, she’d help me look more presentable and I’d help her to enjoy herself without being in a frat party filled with college Greek idiots. (no offense, not all of them are, but she couldn’t get away from the idiots!)

She didn’t see the awkward guy.  When she talked to me she talked to the inner “Dave” in there.  This amazing, gorgeous, sultry woman who was so fun, so adventurous and just so sexy ignored the jocks, the Greeks, the Med school students and talked with the silly kid from O’Neill, Nebraska.  I couldn’t figure out why.  I couldn’t understand what she possibly got from being with me, but I wasn’t going to let it go.

One day, while giving me this crazy, mischievous grin of hers, she said “write me a song!”  I must have looked like I was going to be sick.  I wasn’t playing as much in a band and I hadn’t gotten much material played in the band I was in.  “Musicians write songs for their girlfriends all the time, aren’t I worth a song?!”  How do you tell someone like that no?  I stared at her and for two straight days I wrote a song.  I had a 4-track cassette recorder and I put it together, just guitar and vocals, and I played it for her.  I hadn’t realized she wasn’t serious, but she cried when she heard it.

To this day I’ve thought it was too simplistic and too small for her.  She was amazing.  her smile lit my world.  Her life touched mine so deeply that I literally would do anything she asked of me.  I am a tremendous BB King fan and I always said she was “My Sweet Little Angel” after his song.  I told her “I love the way she spreads her wings.”

My Sweet Little Angel

I wrote the song, my brother and I even recorded it, but I never thought it was good enough.  Not good enough for her.  The lyrics, very much like a 19-20 year old would write:
See the girl walkin’ down the street
She’s got that look in her eye
Made me think of all the rough times I’ve had
And changed them all with just one smile
But when the morning comes
I’ll never be alone
She’ll be right by my side
My little Angel
Oh, my sweet angel . . .

Like the morning sun
Or a blessing from above
She helped me learn to fly
Up with the angels . . .

Every card I gave her after that, every letter, every note said “love you, my sweet angel” on it.  You have to understand, as cheesy as this may sound, as totally geeky or religious it may seem, it’s neither.  She was simply miraculous to me.  She had no business being with me.  You can look at me, tell me I’m wrong, tell me what I gave her all you want and you’ll never get me to change my mind.  This isn’t the lack of confidence coming back, you can look at that photo: that gorgeous smile, the sexy, sultry, mysterious look; the twinkle and sparkle of her smiling eyes, and you can never tell me that any man was worthy of it.  I wasn’t.  I was lucky.  I was grumpy, shy, scared and just thinking that I was doomed to a life of being alone.  There seemed no way that I’d end up with anyone, let alone someone so amazing.  But there she was, right by my side, waking up next to me every morning, her hand on my chest, her breath against my skin.  I would wake up thinking it was a strange dream.

Now I’m 359 days into my new story.  I wake up knowing it was a dream.  I had it good and perfect for awhile.  It’s like she taught me what to do and then said “that’s it, my love.  I have to go home now.”

I move forward every day, the workday being the easiest part of my day, then I get home and do the home chores and dinner and bedtime and wash, dry, dishes . . . then the evening hits, and I can do nothing but look back.  Every day I find some new thing from her, some old picture or note that I wasn’t looking for and I feel the wound in my soul hurt a little more.

I’m moving forward, but not moving on.  Not right now, at the very least, if ever.  It’s hard to walk when you learned to fly with angels.


Starting tomorrow, there will be a lull in posting for the blog.  We are finishing up plans for the video and the anniversary.  Please check in, I’ll post occasionally, and on the 26th, the revised “My Sweet Angel” with our video will post.  A celebration of Andrea and of our new story.  Please join me in celebrating her on that day!

…Second Guessing Me, Every Minute.

“Life Without You” by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble

It is late, insanely late, on Thanksgiving night. I had vowed that I wouldn’t, couldn’t, post tonight, there wasn’t a reason, I’d get through the day, it would be fine, everything OK. But I just hit my same routine. I sit here in my bedroom, a “Friends” marathon seemingly on multiple channels. (Who knew that show was on long enough to have a marathon of just Thanksgiving episodes, by the way?)

My theory had been that if I held Thanksgiving at my house, cooking it, putting everything together, doing the work myself, I wouldn’t have time to think about another holiday coming and going. I wouldn’t have to face yet another signpost flying by me knowing that Andrea has left the path and headed somewhere else.

Wednesday night I headed to Target to pick up some last-minute stuff for our dinner. I had not realized that – even though I’d posted one of those past, amazing Thanksgiving memories on this blog already – the day was already weighing heavily on me. The thing is, and I know I sound like some sort of strange, mutated version of the Cake Boss meeting Martha Stuart, Andrea did the holiday right, and I mean right. Things were decorated, the table set perfectly, the china, the silver, the wine and water goblets, everything in its place and set up just so. I did the cooking, nearly every year, but she was the brain behind it all, even determining the side dishes or the desserts at times – much to my consternation when it was a chocolate-crusted bourbon pecan pie with homemade vanilla whipped cream. Yeah, she had ideas, just ideas well beyond our station. Remember this, because it’s not just important, it’s a part of our everyday lives, something that led to a lot of problems for us as well.

I saw just how little I had to make it the Thanksgiving that Andrea would have done. The table would be decorated, the house feeling like Fall even if we were in the warmest of climates. I wanted nothing more than to channel my wife, the beauty and color, the vision of the world she saw. I found a good tablecloth, the other stuff and as I cooked, up until about 1am Thursday morning, I put the table together, nervous and annoying my oldest daughter because I thought I’d done a piss-poor job of putting the table together.

The decorations and table settings for our Thanksgiving

I wanted to create a Thanksgiving that was ours, something that the kids could think wasn’t any different than years past. I also thought that if I made dinner myself, at home, I’d have so much on my plate – pun intended – I’d have no time to think about the fact that I’m doing this all by myself. That Andrea’s not here, so there’s no way the evening can be perfect. I had her parents, which is never comfortable for me, my sister-in-law (who is amazing) and her husband, three kids and all coming over. We had a 21 pound turkey, homemade bread dressing, homemade rolls, mashed potatoes and my sister-in-law brought over green beans and sweet potatoes. By 1am, I was completely exhausted and had made 3 pies and the dressing with the fixings for the turkey made.

The dinner worked well, my food palatable, the company was good and the kids on their best behavior.

But no matter how well I did things, it wasn’t beautiful. It was nice, it was decorated, but it wasn’t perfect. That’s what my wife brought to the table: perfection.

But don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t always happy with that perfection. Let’s call it what it was, too – an obsession. Andrea had to have straight A’s or she wasn’t happy when she went to Pharmacy school. She had to be able to get the outfits or table linens she wanted or she’d find a way to get them.

Where this was problematic for me was my own fault, my own problem. I couldn’t tell Andrea “no”. My kids can tell you I have no problem saying that to them. I can tell my work if I can’t do something or “no”, I am not able to stay late, what have you. But there was something about Andrea, a thought, a feeling, whatever spell she had over me, I did whatever she wanted or found a way to make it happen if I couldn’t. She was just so amazing to me I couldn’t refuse her. When she wanted to go back to school, regardless of the massive school loans or lack of her income, I delivered newspapers at 2am, worked my day job and gigged to make ends meet, and not very well. With a new baby, a house, all of it, we needed the money but didn’t have it.

On one particular week, I had to work my day job, gigged at a local bar, unloaded my gear, then headed home, showered, went to the warehouse, loaded the car up and delivered newspapers. I got home later that morning, around 6, showered again, ate a bagel or something, drank a ton of coffee, went to my day job, worked until 6pm, got home grabbed my gear, headed to the bar, gigged, finished up and was readying to go to the papers again. My brother was worried and wanted to ride along so I wouldn’t fall asleep in the car – by this point it was hour 32 I was up – and fell asleep in the car as I delivered papers, finishing with more than 20 undelivered in my car, got home, showered, then had to go back to work again. By the time I’d finished it all up, I’d been up nearly 48 straight hours. I started to see people in driveways that weren’t really there.

Was it painfully hard? Difficult to do to the point of burning out my memory synapses and causing me to walk around in a state of near constant exhaustion? Of course. Would I do it again if Andrea was there, wanting to better herself, show she’s not stupid and become a Doctor of Pharmacy again? Yes.

My biggest fault, the one I hated the most was the fact that, even if it was for her or my own good, I couldn’t tell her “no”. The look of disappointment, the drop in her voice, the anger or sadness that might accompany it was so hard for me I had no self control when it came to her. If she wanted to get something, I tried to find a way to get it. If she wanted to go out, no matter how tired I was, I went. If I was exhausted, after delivering papers all night and gigging through to the weekend and she wanted to grab my hand and keep me up so she could lay her head on my shoulder, I’d do it. I never wanted to see her disappointed, but it was the worst thing I could have ever done.

It’s not co-dependence. I didn’t have time apart from Andrea and obsess about what she was doing and wonder when I’d see her again. I missed her, of course, a lot. I didn’t have heart palpitations worrying about when I would finally be in her company again. The reality is I loved her. It’s really that simple.

The song I add to the beginning here is particularly heartfelt. I found myself able to listen to it, though it makes my eyes well up when I hear it. The song makes me emotional, but it doesn’t have that connection to Andrea because she was never a big fan of its writer, Stevie Ray Vaughan. She couldn’t listen to that much guitar and so little vocals. She was a jazz fan but not a blues fan. Whenever I had this song on the radio in the car she never knew it was him because it was such a soulful piece. It speaks of the loss of a dear friend, the description of life with them, then life without them.

He says what happened for me:
A long look in the mirror and we come face to face
Wishin’ all the love we took for granted
Love we have today

Life without you….
All the love you passed my way
The angels have waited for so long….
Now they have their way
Take your place….

Here’s the thing, whether you’re religious or not, I called her my little angel. I felt she was like the woman in the BB King song, my sweet little angel . . . I was sure she’d made me a better man and the angels waiting for her was just such an appropriate line. It hurts to think I had an angel on my shoulder that I could touch and feel, but that’s who she was. I wasn’t ready for her to leave. It’s really true how I feel like the love we had we just took for granted. I hear this and look at the table after we’ve eaten, that song playing on the radio while I cooked earlier.

If she’s a gaseous mist, or up in heaven, on another plane, meeting the souls of the greats, I hope after she found the spirits she missed all these years she stumbled upon a tall man with massive fingers, a black hat perched on his head him why he’s there, this man with a feather standing tall from his black Hendrix-like hat. The gentle, beautiful musician who came through so many hardships only to die too young whose personality and music connected with my soul – I dream he somehow knows how much she meant to me as well. I hope he smiles at her with the Strat slung over his shoulder and tells her:

We’ve been waiting for so long . . . come take your place.

Happy Thanksgiving. Fly on, Andrea, my sweet angel. Fly on through the sky.