Let's all appreciate my amazingly short hair, ok? ok. thanks.
2003 was not particularly kind to me.
Sounds pretty magical, right? Trees, fresh air, beautiful mountain sunsets. Perfect spot to write an amazing song, right??
Unless that particular campsite was a place you had spent time before.
Before cancer. Before chemo. Before radiation. Before surgeries and hospitals and chronic pain your life turning upside down into a swirling pool of sadness, disappointment, exhaustion and despair.
I was really nervous.
I was afraid that I would maybe start crying as soon as I got there and not stop. I was afraid that if that happened, people would try to pep talk me out of it - or say sorry and be sympathetic - and that I would have to pretend that what they were saying was making me feel better for the simple fact that I needed them to stop. talking. to. me. immediately. (why is it that sometimes people trying to make you feel better makes you feel worse?! like - you pep talking me right now is making me want to rip out my eyeballs and I appreciate you trying SO much, but PLEASE STOP for the LOVE.)
Or that I would get really angry and dark and that the only things that would come out of me would be angry and dark...both in my music and in the way I interacted with my fellow songwriters. If THAT happened, then it would have been an emotionally exhausting waste of time all around.
SO. I made a beeline for an unfamiliar path as soon as I got there. Everyone wandered around commenting on how amazing it was and asking if I wanted to go explore over here (nope!) or over there (no way!) with them.
I ended up finding a little rock near a stream and sat down. A friend was sitting nearby. (incidentally, that friend now works with me at Time Out for Women! ha!) I tried to just get lost in the sounds of the birds and the stream...tried to immerse myself in anything OTHER than the memories that seemed to be saturating every part of that place.
After several minutes, I looked upstream - and my breath caught in my throat. A little cabin suspended over the stream where I had spent an afternoon taking a pottery class with Mom looked back at me. In that moment, I was flooded with feelings.
They weren't the feelings I had expected or feared, though...
I felt close to her. It was like I was surrounded by all of the happiness of that time spent with Mom. The sun breaking through the leaves and the beautiful mix of silence and the sounds of nature made that place feel almost sacred. Instead of feeling empty or angry, I felt...grateful. So, indescribably grateful for feeling her nearby. I felt whole and at peace and like the huge, gaping hole that had been haunting me everyday since Mom left had disappeared for a moment.
Feeling close to her, feeling whole, feeling at peace..."this must be what it feels like in heaven, when we're reunited with the people we love and won't ever have to say goodbye again", is the thought that ran through my mind. It was an experience I'll never forget.
I believe that we continue on after this life. I believe that families are forever. I believe that in that moment, my Mom was there with me...and I was quiet enough, and focused enough to recognize that she was. I bet she's around me frequently - but I'm too busy with life to sense her. I believe that your loved ones who have passed on spend time around you, too. Whether it be your baby, your teenager, your spouse, your sibling, your parent, grandparent - I believe they're with us...and we can feel them if we take the time to slow down and pay attention.
The lyrics that came to me that day ended up being the title track to my new EP - "What Heaven Feels Like". Here they are:
Freckled faces, holding hands
Tired eyes, fall asleep
In your arms
Being in this place and feeling you close by my side
This must be what heaven feels like
Heaven feels like you with me, my dearest friend
Heaven feels like never being apart again
God must feel this way as we come home to Him
This must be what heaven feels like
Older now and I'm
back where we held hands
But you're gone
Memories chase me the
way you used to in the sun
The seasons change
but the patterns stay the same
What's winter now
will be springtime again
My broken heart
will eventually mend
We'll go on forever, and ever
Going on and on and on
and never end.
If you want to know more about my faith, feel free to comment or email me :) Or you can check out lds.org.
Thanks for reading & for supporting my dreams & music & for not judging me for being really open about how ugly grief was on me (and still is sometimes).
Love you all.