Plastic Guitars

Just last week, I wrote about how, for the most part, random triggers are few and far between for me.  Even trying to actively trigger myself has become difficult.  Wouldn’t you know it?  A day after writing that, an event occurred that randomly brought tears to my eyes for missing Megan.  

As silly as it may sound, it was a video game that gave me that moment of pause and reflection.  

When Shelby was born, Megan and I thought that it might be a good idea to buy an XBox and a few games.  We would be spending much more time at home, with Shelby being a newborn, and Megan not being in the best of health at the time.  Prior to her arrival, we were consistently away from home, attending car shows, hiking, travelling, going out with friends, and generally being 24 -year-olds.   That would be changing with a daughter, at least in the short term.

So we did just that.  The christmas before Shelby’s birth, we picked up the game console, and set it up in our rec-room/ basement.  One of the games we bought was “Guitar Hero”.  If you don’t know it, it's a game where you play a plastic guitar as a controller, trying to hit colorful notes scrolling down at you on the screen in time with the music.  It is generally all popular rock songs, and after a bit of practice, very easy to pick up.

Megan and I were both addicted to this game.  So much so, that when Shelby came home, we would place her in her baby swing, facing the screen, and play.  She would stare, mesmerized by all of the colors and the music, and quickly fall asleep.  We would continue to play until she stirred again or otherwise needed attention.  

Over the next few years, we purchased 5 or 6 more of these “guitar” games.  There were sequels to the original one we had, as well as special “Beatles” and “Metallica” editions.  We even upgraded the controllers.  Shelby continued to enjoy watching us strum a plastic guitar, and as she got more mobile, even started dancing to some of the songs as we played.  

It all sounds ridiculous, to be almost 30 years old, and playing with toys, but it worked for us.  Shelby was being exposed to the type of music that both of her parents loved, it didn’t cost us much money, and it wasn’t a stressful or aggravating activity to participate in when one has a disease that affects the lungs.  

By the time Shelby was five, Megan had received her lung transplant.  We didn’t play the game much anymore.  Shelby was mobile and in school, Megan was healthy, and we were back to doing more things away from the house.  Once in awhile, I would get the bug to play a little, and Shelby would still watch and dance along, but the few times she tried to play it herself, her coordination and just being new at something tended to frustrate her as she missed “notes”.

Time has passed, and a lot of things have changed since then.  I hadn’t played the game for over two years.  Suddenly though, just this past week, I got the bug to fire it up.  Shelby and I went to our old haunt...the basement, and I played a few songs.  

Shelby though, couldn’t wait to try it.  She remembered watching Megan and I play and dancing along.  She remembered a lot of the songs that were “her favorites” (Revolution, by the Beatles, immediately comes to mind for her).  She donned the guitar, I adjusted the strap for her, and she started practicing.

After one or two tries, she got it.  She was hitting notes, choosing other songs, and just picking them up without fail.  It wasn’t long until she started tapping her feet or dancing a little as she played.  In the “guitar solo” parts, she was waving the guitar around like she was on stage, and grinning ear-to-ear as she mastered tougher sections.  

She looked just like Megan playing.

I watched for half an hour.  I was now in her position...enjoying the songs while the notes scrolled past the screen.  After a bit, I went upstairs, leaving her to play on her own, and mentioned to Sarah how good she was doing, and that she should come see.  It was at that moment, where I started describing the whole above story, that it hit me.  Megan would have LOVED this.  

I could clearly picture Megan, smiling uncontrollably, watching her “peanut” play a gig.  It’s just a video game using a toy musical instrument, but it does take rhythm, hand-eye coordination, and a knowledge of the actual song to do a decent job.  Shelby was playing a game that she was (somewhat questionably) raised on!  As much as I wanted Sarah to watch her, she didn’t have the same “history” with it that Megan would have.  

I teared up, telling her about all of this.  It only lasted a few minutes, but it was an emotional few minutes.  It’s really, very, very silly to me to have a moment like this over a video game, but it was honest.  It’s an event, no matter how trivial, that Megan is missing.  It’s something that Shelby is honestly proud of herself for accomplishing that her mother doesn’t get to see in the flesh.  Shelby ran upstairs soon after this, and told us to “come watch” as she hopped up and down like a, well, like a kid.  

We followed her downstairs, and she played a song for us.  Somewhat fittingly, it was “Revolution”

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  • commented 2016-10-04 19:39:50 -0700
    Hi Mike……like you I have had several triggers like what you so eloquently described and I have decided they will always be there forever until I die…..they happen further between and might not be as intense…but are always unpredictable….thanks for sharing.