Top of the World

I wished I was smarter
I wished I was stronger
I wished I loved Jesus
The way my wife does
I wish it had been easier
Instead of any longer

 

Yesterday we drove to Virginia Beach, about 140 miles, each way, to see the Dixie Chicks MMXVI tour.  We bought tickets back in June, post CT scan, but before we got the results.

     Back in 2003 when the whole George W. Bush debacle happened with the Dixie Chicks we saw them then. It was a fantastic show, but marred by issues with a family member who had a huge issue with us still going to see them.

     We didn’t have any issue like that this time, just the weight of what I am facing.

     I’m being as strong as I can, but my brain is screaming at me because I’m 41 and facing my mortality. It’s not the easiest thing to do when you’ve lived 80 years and the full life expectancy.

Looking at it from half of that, though? It’s not easy.

I’m facing my fears and looking at myself and what I didn’t accomplish.

I never finished college. I never published a novel. I have never gotten over my fear of flying.

I have never met Bret Michaels. Yes, that last one doesn’t fit in so much, but I have literally had a crush on that man since I was 11-years-old and first saw him on MTV with Poison.

In all seriousness though, there are so many things we put off, weekend trips, going back to visit family,  seeing where Tony is from in Texas, renewing our vows.  So many things and who knows what time is left?

I wished I could have stood where you would have been proud
But that won’t happen now
That won’t happen now

     I feel like I’m leaving behind nothing as a legacy. I have no children. I’ve been competent at my job, but I’m not lighting the world on fire with my journalism or photography.

     I’ll leave behind a husband that I adore and that loves me more than any person deserves to be loved. He is my rock, my soulmate, my other half, and the person who speaks to my heart.

When he’s gone, hopefully decades after I am, will he remember how much I love him? How he kissed me on the forehead every day before he left for work and every night before he fell asleep, how we watched the same dumb sitcoms over and over because familiarity is what I need sometimes?

Will he miss my quirks and anxiety or be grateful to not have to deal with all of that?

There’s a whole lot of singing that’s never gonna be heard
Disappearing everyday without so much as a word somehow
Think I broke the wings off that little song bird
She’s never gonna fly to the top of the world right now
Top of the world

     Will the niblings, my beloved nieces and nephews remember me? These children of my heart are all so young. Four to not quite 17.

I want them to remember how much I love each one of them. How much each one of them means to me. How I remember the silly things that they did, the music they shook their butts to as babies, to the way the ended every story with “Everybody died” making us think they were destined to be goth.

I want them to remember Aunt Pooh holding them in her arms and hugging them tight.

When I got the first cancer diagnosis in 2008 I had Tony take pictures with the kids and me at the pumpkin patch that year. I wanted all of them to have pictures with me in case I didn’t make it to through the surgery.

We didn’t even have several of them yet. Either they weren’t born or they hadn’t become family through marriage, yet.

I need to do a similar photo shoot this year, soon, soon. I want pictures with them so they remember me.

I don’t have to answer any of these questions
Don’t have no God to teach me no lessons
I come home in the evening
Sit in my chair
One night they called me for supper
But I never got up
I stayed right there in my chair

     All these thoughts were swirling through my head last night as this Dixie Chicks song, Top of the World, was played. Natalie Maines’ voice sang out across the amphitheater enthralling thousands of people and I went inward.

As the words rolled across me, tears joined the beads of sweat. The words of a man who has died, wishing that he had done things better, been smarter, stronger, better.

    Facing your mortality at a young age leaves you to have these questions now.  What could I have done better? Could I have shown Tony how much I love him in a better way? Could I have be a better friend? A better daughter? A better sister?

There’s a whole lot of singing that’s never gonna be heard
Disappearing everyday without so much as a word somehow
Think I broke the wings off that little song bird
She’s never gonna fly to the top of the world right now

     As the song build to its crescendo, for a moment, I realized my fear of the future, of what I am facing, of the path I am taking.

After we lost a friend in 2010 to suicide I have been more open about telling my friends I love them. I have never held back on hugging them or kissing them or telling them how much they mean to me.

That is the one good thing to come out of Michael’s death. It made us all look at one another and appreciate each other even more. For that I am grateful.

I wished I’d a known you
Wished I’d a shown you
All of the things I was on the inside
I’d pretend to be sleeping
When you come in in the morning
To whisper good-bye
Go to work in the rain
I don’t know why
Don’t know why

     As the entire arena sang aloud with them, the words washed over me and overwhelmed me for a moment.

‘Cause everyone’s singing
We just want to be heard
Disappearing everyday without so much as a word somehow
Want to grab a hold of that little song bird
Take her for a ride to the top of the world right now

     And, that’s just it. I just want to be heard. I want to be remembered. I want the people I love to know how much I love them.

I still have time. There’s still time to work on this for now.

To the top of the world
To the top of the world
To the top of the world
To the top of the world
To the top of the world
To the top of the world
To the top of the world
To the top of the world

Lyrics by Patti Griffin as sung by Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks