I Think Tonight I'll Take the Long Way...

"there's a song that they sing when they take to the highway..."

Music is such a big part of my life, and my iPod playlist is always a reflection of my mood... On a normal day I usually just pick my "Favs" which encompasses everything I love... When I'm in a particularly fabulous mood, I click over to my "No Boys Allowed" mix which contains a large quantity of "sing-at-the-top-of-my-lungs" chick songs (which I appropriately sing at the top of my lungs).

"on the way home this car hears my confessions..."

With my job I find myself on the road more often than not, traveling to my different counties. It's not unusual for me to spend two or three hours a day driving, which oddly enough, I enjoy.  One spring day in 2009, however, I discovered something interesting.

“even if the whole world has forgotten…”

When I'm hurting, really hurting, I listen to the same music, the same set of artists and songs, every time.  At the age of 17 when my parents divorced it wasn't uncommon for me to drive around for hours on end - listening to Matchbox Twenty, Fuel, Alanis Morissette... Over the next several years I added a few more heartbreaks, and thus added a few more artists. There's no rhyme or reason to why these songs are in my "Mellow" playlist, except that at some point a lyric echoed an ache inside of me.

“when it rains it pours and open doors…”

Less than two years earlier my cousin Megan had been diagnosed with cancer only six months after losing her own mother to the same disease.  Although Megan’s initial treatments seemed promising, the cancer reappeared.  A huge tomboy with an iron will, Megan fought back hard – but the cancer was winning. 

“Mellow” took a 4-year hiatus before making its way back on that spring day, but I welcomed it with open ears.  It offered comfort that my family and friends couldn’t give.  There were nights when I cried the entire way home, but the artists, the melodies, the "lyrics" helped me purge all the emotion that built up during the day.

"there are days every now and again I pretend I'm okay..."

One of the best conversations I had with Megan was, ironically, on the way to Children's Hospital emergency room.  We discussed music as I drove and she scrolled through my iPod, choosing what we listened to during the drive. She had many admonitions about my lack of Toby Keith, Dirks Bentley, and other contemporary country she found appealing.  We eventually found a few songs we could agree on, including the one and only Rascall Flatts song that I like.

"you have stolen my heart..."

I told Megan that when she got a little older, I'd introduce her to Matchbox Twenty and Dashboard Confessional and some other cool bands. She looked over at me from the passenger seat with wide eyes and said, "Oh cool, so you know them?"

“and I never saw blue like that before…”

On June 2, 2009 Megan died at the age of 12.  I try hard not to dwell on the "what if's," but there are moments when they sneak into my head. And damn them! They pop up at the most random moments – as I sweep the kitchen floor or put my own daughter to bed – bringing tears to my eyes and clogging my throat.

But that is what my drive home is for... I let out the day's worth of pent-up emotions, and eliminate all that I can in hopes of some type of peace.


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