A Happy Foo Fighter Birthday

Happy Birthday Dave Grohl from me, the family and my angel!  As I mentioned in my previous post, the Foo Fighters are my husband’s favorite band on par with Metallica, perhaps they are his most favorite band now.  As a result, our boys have grown up listening to, singing and now playing (second son fancies himself the future Dave Grohl playing the drums and guitar) their songs.  I cannot say I have been a “fan”.  I liked all of their songs just fine, they were catchy and the words I could understand (when he was not screaming) seemed kind of nice but since I’ve never thought of constantly nodding as a particularly good dance move, I never paid close attention … until after Gus passed away.

Even now when I listen to “The Best of You” it is Gus’ voice I hear belting out “Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you” but it was only recently that I heard this verse.

“Has someone taken your faith?
Its real, the pain you feel
The life, the love you’d die to heal
The hope that starts the broken hearts
You trust, you must

And although I included the following two Foo Fighter songs in Gus’ memorial video, I had never paid close enough attention to hear this verse from “My Hero”

“Too alarming now to talk about
Take your pictures down and shake it out
Truth or consequence, say it aloud
Use that evidence, race it around
There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He’s ordinary”
or this one from “Times like these”
“I am a new day rising
I’m a brand new sky
To hang the stars upon tonight
I am a little divided
Do I stay or run away
And leave it all behind?
It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these time and time again”
Over the weekend we attended the Foo Fighter concert, I am convinced Gus wanted me to hear about as a birthday gift to his dad and I watched in amazement as people of all ages, cultures and walks of life congregated to listen to them play.
What a true gift to bring so many people together and fill them with such joy.
For you Gus…. Our Hero

Ghosts of Christmas Past & Future

Another Christmas without you.

Another Christmas without you.

Christmas is especially difficult after losing Gus. Whereas I once relished the season, sprinkling cinnamon scented cones throughout the house, cramming every nook and cranny with a Santa or some other kitschy decoration, and draping the house in garlands and lights, for the last three years I’ve approached  it as if I was ripping off a bandage from an open wound, quickly while holding my breath.

This year more than ever I felt like a Christmas spectator than a participant; as though I was out on a cold, damp, dim street looking through a window at a warm, happy party I could not join. Everything hurt me this year; the mention of the birth of Christ at church, the long lines of kids waiting for Santa at the mall, the request for two front teeth on the radio, and even the Facebook news feed that peppered me incessantly with pictures of kids I used to see regularly, older now, swathed in the colors of the season. Just setting up for Christmas was torture as each of the few Christmas decorations I had retained through The Great Purge held special meaning. The glittery cone precariously glued on its end gingerly placed on the coffee table had been carefully constructed by our oldest son in first grade, the beautifully framed splattering of green paint right next to it, a Christmas gift from our middle son in second grade, and on the mantle, a red, white and green construction paper garland that Gus made in kindergarten. But it was the Christmas tree that finally drew blood, each ornament we unwrapped and hung; the giant red, white and blue Mickey ears from our last family trip to Disneyworld, the ones that commemorated the kids births, the unbreakable ones purchased when Gus was a baby, the ones we picked up on epic trips around the country and the one we had made in his memory stabbed at our hearts until we were emotionally wrecked.  For the first time in my life, I was Scrooge, face to face with the Ghost of Christmas past.

I thought December 26th would be better, if I could just power through the days leading up to and including the 25th, I could stop pretending to smile and smile for real, perhaps even take a breath. I nearly did or thought I had until the Ghost Christmas Future showed up growling at me pacing back and forth around the house between Christmas and New Year’s until I matched its steps and took on its persona.  I used to race towards the future, I had a zeal for leaving things behind.  I liked running away from mistakes, worries, circumstances, even people.  I was the kind of person that tore up ex-boyfriend’s letters and pictures, that dropped the baggage at the door of the last year and stepped into the new year without hesitation.  Since Gus’ passing however, I’ve had no interest in the future. The future no longer held any promise for me other than further loss.

I began wondering if I was a fraud.  If I had ever believed there could be “upsides” to grief or if all of it, the working, traveling, reading, writing, “positive” mental attitude were things I was saying but did not really believe.  The peace I thought I had gained was not real if it could evaporate by the changing of a single digit.

Sunday the 18th of January will be my husband’s birthday and while I hadn’t come up with a great gift idea yet, it seems that Gus had.  Yesterday, I was heading home after getting a body wrap to squeeze the unwanted water from my pores when my sweaty hand hit the wrong button landing me on a radio station I rarely listen to. It was playing The Pretender (hmm) by the Foo Fighters so I left it there.  All of my boys (husband and Gus included) are huge fans of the band and have been aching to see them in concert but the show this coming September sold out in seconds and now the tickets were ridiculously priced. Although I wasn’t really paying much attention to the DJ, I thought I heard him say that the band had just announced a “secret” or “surprise” show at the Forum on Saturday with tickets going on sale within a few hours. I scrambled home to tell my son who coordinated with his dad and by the time the evening was over they had secured a bunch of tickets for us and a few friends.  Saturday is the 10th, a number of great significance to us as Gus’ birthday was the 10th of August and he was ten when he passed away.  I choose to believe that Gus meant for me to get us to that concert as a present to his dad.

Without an ability to hold onto the past and with a fear as much as a reluctance of the future, I realize now I have been grabbing onto the present for dear life.  While it is important to make the most of the present, to be “in the moment” precisely because we don’t know what lies ahead, it is a little like staring at your feet while walking. You are bound to walk into a pole. Life must also be lived with intention and intention is all about the future.  While the ghosts of Christmas past may go by many names and hurt me each year they are released from their translucent graves, the ghost of Christmas future has a single name, peace.  I can follow Gus to that future if I listen closely enough because in the end it will lead me straight to him.  May you find peace in 2015.