Musical Monday: Hanging by a Moment, or, Somatic Identification Part 1
"Hanging by a Moment" by Lifehouse is the song of my experience of my husband’s last few months. I’m talking about the period during which he dissolved: after the back surgery, before the shingles.
The song is aggressive and male and unlike all the other music I like, but it was on the radio all the time. The lyrics are final: “there’s nothing else to lose,” and stubborn: “I’m standing here until you make me move,” and all about extremes, but what got me glued to it was the refrain:
“I’m falling even more in love with you.” I sang it to myself over and over, every time I got in the car, every time I went somewhere on my own, taking the few moves I could make with any honesty and directness, a few trips with any direction at all, however mundane.
"More in love?" WHAT? Was I trying to convince myself that cancer brought “gifts?” Gavin was falling away, down to 100 lbs and shrinking as I watched, as I tried to move forward. Did he know he wasn’t part of the plan any more? Or was I not making any plans? Was it a mantra, nonsense, something in the chords that hit me? Or just the sense of uncertainty, that you can be strong and whatever but you have no idea what's next? Isn't that part of what the young blond dude (so young!) is saying?
It sounds, to me, like some truth. My body was inextricably stuck to his as it broke, our lives were shared and splitting silently down the middle. It’s called somatic identification, and it marks the last bit of grief that I have left to shed.
"Falling, hanging, desperate." The truth of my life as he was dying. There's a metallic drone in the song under the whine of the bass: and a beautiful buzz that makes me wonder if Lifehouse is a faith-driven act (despite the lyrics) or just your average white band.
I listen to this song, over and over, to recapture what I felt, the fact that I WAS feeling though it doesn’t seem like it when I look back. I’m convinced now I need to do this, though I’ve heard the advice over and over, this time it came from peers, not from Freud. This time, I was listening.
My peer Matt Logelin, author of “Two Kisses for Maddy,” said, “it was only by remembering and writing down those last moments when I saw Liz -- the smells, the sounds, that I became free to live again, and eventually, to love again.” (I paraphrase; he was more direct and less corny).
My peer Jennifer Silvera, author of “Believe,” said, “I had written. ‘We were in the ambulance, it took him to the hospital, but he was already dead.’ My agent pushed and pushed, insisting the story was more than those 3 phrases, but I didn’t see it, and when I did, it was ten pages of moments.” (I totally paraphrase and probably have important details wrong). (Matt and Jennifer were speaking at the author’s panel at Camp Widow). And you know what? I believe them. I’ve started posts on this topic a dozen times and quit.
I’m going to listen to this macho anthem over and over again until I get it right this time. Or wrong, but either way – DOWN. I'll get my own words down and let go of these.