Seventeen years ago I met a man who changed my life. He had lived in nursing homes since he broke his neck at age 17; he was 40. He had walled himself in his dark place, weary of the life that had disappointed and hurt him so deeply.
I had lost first my mother, then my father; stunned with grief at 37.
We connected, opened up, bonded. Slowly. Each unsure of the other; each hiding budding feelings. Afraid of more pain. Slowly, sweetly, realization. Affirmation. He was paralyzed from the neck down. He needed total care. No one stayed for the long haul. I told him I would. He was wary. But we were soulmates. I stayed.
Ten years ago, circumstances changed. A long hospitalization; the nursing home gave away his room. Suddenly, he had no home. Things happened quickly. All at once. He moved in with me. I was his legs, his hands. I did all for him. I loved it. He believed. We laughed, we cried, we fought, we made up. We loved… deeply. We never stopped. We were happy. No more dark places or walls of pain.
Two months ago, a hospital visit. Things changed quickly. All at once. Two days later, home on hospice, for only a few short hours. He didn’t seem to be in pain; he died peacefully, at home, surrounded by people he loved. He did not die alone in a hospital, as he had always feared.
I was stunned; shattered. Wounded. The weight of the sun in my heart.
The Airborne connection? The next day, I read an interview Mikel did, talking about “All At Once.” The sudden life changes. Once again, Mikel gave voice to my feelings. But, after years of loving TATE, I couldn’t listen to them. I feared the tragic lyrics.
A month went by; I missed my band. I started listening again. The lyrics had new meaning, more clarity. I lost my soulmate; indeed, I am now only half of something else. It hurt to listen, but it also healed. I still feel like the wounded raven, my heart pierced. Most nights I can’t see the ceiling tiles through all the tears. But the music is more beautiful than before. I feel a little less alone.
And I have a name to carve out of the sky.
Debbie lives in NW Indiana. With Michael’s encouragement, she went back to school and got her RN in 2001. She reads obsessively, loves genealogy, and takes volunteer photos for FindAGrave. For her birthday last year, Michael arranged for her to go see “that Toxic Airborne band you like so much;” when she came home bouncing like a 14-yr-old, he had the biggest smile on his face! Everyone says she was his angel; they have it backwards.