It’s one of those “jumbled” days, where it feels like I have nothing worth sharing with the world. Alison shared the same sentiment in her writing this past Wednesday. I’m approaching four years of widowerhood, and I’ve been writing here for three and a half. What else am I to say?
I don’t have a birthday, anniversary, significant holiday, milestone, sign or trigger. In the past 7 days, and for at least the next 14, quite literally NOTHING has or will happen that brings poignant thoughts of Megan and her death. I’m on cruise control right now. In times like this, as Alison mentioned, music is a tool to be used to bring inspiration. More specifically, one song. “Let it Be” by the Beatles. Even more specifically, the album version, versus the single version.
That very particular composition, to me, it one of the greatest pieces of music ever created. I have listened to that song since I was a boy, and even at the innocent age of 10, it would bring tears to my eye for no apparent reason other than the sheer beauty and emotion it conveys.
So, on a day like today, where just the act of writing about widowhood is difficult to find inspiration for, I’ve put the song on repeat. I’ll write about the mental journey that the song takes me through, each and every time I hear it nowadays. I’ve thought about this premise for awhile, and after a recent visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, just up the road in Cleveland, it is fresh in my mind.
The song starts with a simple piano progression. With that first strike of the keys, Paul McCartney has instantly greased the wheels. Almost as if it’s a music video, the scene in my head slowly zooms into Megan lying in a hospital bed. It’s quiet, with no one else around but Megan and I. That’s it. I cannot see any other picture in my head. My subconscious instantly knows what is about to occur with the first notes of that song, and places the vision in my conscious mind.
Then the lyrics start.
When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, “let it be”
It’s Megan, awake and knowing that she will die soon. She and I are talking. She wants Shelby to be raised well. She expresses her desire for me to be happy, find someone and remarry should I so wish. She accepts her lot in life, and quite simply says, “let it be”. This conversation actually happened around 6 months before her death, not long after she was admitted to the hospital. The opening lyrics of the song reflect this quite succinctly.
And in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me, Speaking words of wisdom, “let it be”
My “hour of darkness” was the 24 hours leading up to her imminent death. Heavily sedated on life support, the doctor entered the room and informed me that it was time for Megan to be let go. I fought it. I asked for 24 more hours. I searched for some way to save her or make it right. I watched her vital signs on the monitors for even one blip of improvement.
In that single day, Megan wearily opened her eyes for a moment, smiled at me, and drifted back into unconsciousness. It may have been the sedation, but that song tells me otherwise. She was simply saying…”Let it be”
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah let it be. Whisper words of wisdom, "let it be".
The chorus. Soft and meaningful. No complex metaphors or philosophy. It is here, in the song, that I begin to accept the story.
And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, “let it be”. But though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see. There will be an answer, “let it be”.
That is us. It’s the widowed community, family, and friends. I’m taken into those first, dark days after her death, when all i wanted was an answer to the question “why?”. Why was Megan taken so young? Why did she get this shit deal in life? Why did Shelby have to lose her mother?
You see, there IS an answer…”let it be”. It is the only logical answer to those questions. It is what it is, and there is absolutely nothing you or I can change about the fact. We might as well let it be and keep on living.
After another double round of the chorus, a soft piano/ organ melody appears. My chest tightens. My eyes begin welling. My breathing shortens a bit. This melody leads right into George Harrison’s guitar solo, and it prepares me for the flood of memories that it signifies.
At right around two minutes into the song (1:57, to be exact), 30 seconds of music represent my life and story with Megan more than words could ever do. I WILL cry. I had to walk out of the room at the hall of fame in a panic when the song came on. It was a tumultuous 12 years of new love, joy, sickness, health, marriage, a child, rebirth, contentment, learning, fear, and ultimately, death. The guitar cries. I cry. I picture Megan’s smile on our wedding day, and her lack thereof on her deathbed. I remember the hug I gave Shelby when they pronounced Megan, and Megan holding our baby girl for the first time.
This, the album version of the song, is the only one to contain this guitar solo. It’s the only way it significantly differs from the single version. George Harrison, my favorite Beatle, is singing a hymn to me with 6 steel strings. It is the most powerful piece of music that I personally have ever experienced. It tells no specific story other than love, pain, and acceptance, and the lack of lyrics let my mind paint the pictures.
And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, “let it be”
Megan’s funeral mass. Her death has passed, and I’m a widower. I remember the determination to fulfill her legacy. I’m coming down from the high of emotions, and begun the process of “healing”. Happiness begins to return, and I wipe the tears from my eyes, snot from my face, and enjoy the melody the best I can.
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
I am comforted. I see Megan, once again smiling. I see her pride in Shelby. I hear her voice, saying, “everything is alright...let it be”. I am encouraged, and happy that she no longer has to suffer the fear of youthful death or debilitating illness. I sense her trust in me, and her enthusiasm at, all things considered, Shelby and I are happy.
The chorus repeats multiple times, with George adding beautiful, soulful, weeping guitar licks for emphasis. The words “let it be” are repeated a few dozen times.