The Friday before she was killed in a car accident on I-15 in Utah, my sister informed me that when she died she wanted one song played at her funeral: Stairway to Heaven.
Did she know she would be gone within 26 hours, catapulted into eternity like a fierce star shooting across the sky? How? And why this song? What turn of phrase made a vibrant 18-year old girl extract a promise from her younger sister that this song – THIS SONG – should be played when she died?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, but what I do know is this: I have felt my sister’s presence surrounding me today, buoying me up, celebrating my professional successes with me (and there have been many today), while tending my broken mother-heart on this anniversary of my beloved daughter’s birth. She’s reminded me to relax into the sharpness of adoption loss and that tightening against this moment makes the pain more intense. I can almost hear her say to me, “Just breathe little sister, breathe.”
And by coincidence, an article featuring Heart’s cover of Stairway to Heaven came across my Facebook feed this evening. I listened. I wept. And then I finally looked up the lyrics to this song. Now I am left wondering if perhaps this song wasn’t for her, but a message from her for those of us she left behind. For me.
“And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our souls
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all…”
I’ve spent the last twenty-three years watching my shadow grow longer and listening very hard. I think I can finally hear the tune. She whispers, “Everything will turn out just as it should. Nothing is lost. Nothing is wasted. The alchemy of the dark emotions will eventually yield gold. Patience, patience, and yet again – patience.”
Tonight, on Ms. Feverfew’s birthday, this is a message I needed to hear.
Happy birthday, Ms. Feverfew. I have a feeling Carolyn would have been crazy about you.