In the last few weeks I've had several band practices. Playing music is without a doubt an important part of my healing process. We are playing a fundraiser for the Arc of Northern Virginia. The Arc is a national organization with state and local chapters which offers support and assistance to families and individuals with special needs. When we needed help navigating the very murky waters of the EDCD waiver process, they pitched in and helped us cross the morass of conflicting paperwork requests. When Connor passed, we requested that people make donations in his name to them, and you all did - so, so much. I'm still not done the thank you notes, but I am working on them.
Anyway - band practice - so we were running through some older songs. I started thinking about music (that happens a LOT with me) and then about Foo Fighters (also...happens a LOT) and then suddenly a thought crossed my mind that many, many people who read this were at Connor's service, and many, many people who read this don't know why I picked the music I did for his service. So I thought, I should share why I picked those songs. So here goes...
We had a lot of latitude with the music, and Lee left it mainly to me because he knew it was important to me. I picked readings from Scripture with the assistance of our pastor, and one of the ones I selected was Matthew 5:14-15 - you are the light of the world. It was a reading at our wedding, one I have always loved. Connor was a light for the world, even with his limitations. So I also selected "You Are the Light of the World" from Godspell as the recessional song. You are the light of the world, but the smallest candlestick ain't much good without a wick! It's funky and jazzy, and I wanted something very upbeat for everyone as they left the sanctuary. While this was a sad event, it wasn't our inclination or nature to want it to be dirge-y all the time. We wanted the service to be bright, celebratory. We knew the inherent sadness of what had happened but we also knew that celebrating him was the only right way to do this.
Several weeks later, on the way home from piano, Drew told me that he thought it was inappropriate. Yeah? TOO BAD, as Bad Cop from the Lego Movie would say.
I wanted something for Ms. Megan, Connor's therapist, who couldn't be with us. I landed on "On Eagles' Wings" which is a well-known hymn, and the song she asked me to sing at her wedding. The congregation sang that together. It talks about being scared and being protected and lifted up - all things I think we were feeling. It helped me to have a little bit of something for her there. We miss her, and hated telling her on the telephone more than almost anyone else.
Then, the real outlier, and the song that was not even remotely traditional. It's not really a mystery that I have a serious, serious obsession with Foo Fighters, right? In 2004, Connor was born and soon after diagnosed, and Lee and I sort of withered away for a while trying to learn how to live this new life we had. With all the appointments with specialists and doctors, and early intervention meetings, I spent quite a bit of time in the car. My mainstay radio station in the car was DC101, and for some reason during that summer they had "Times Like These" from One By One in heavy rotation. It wasn't a new song, but I guess they just liked it a lot or divine intervention was happening. Either way, I found it to be exceptionally helpful. It's times like these you learn to live again. It's times like these you give and give again. It's times like these you learn to love again. It's times like these - it's time and time again. Yep. That's pretty much what I needed in a nutshell.
The morning after Connor died, I laid in bed and listened to it over and over, but the album version was a full-on rock song. It just didn't feel right. I pulled up a web browser and found the video for the acoustic version. There it was. Just what I wanted. So I went to iTunes, and guess what? Not available in the US for purchase. But I didn't give up. I called my friends Courtney and Dave, both tied into the music community, and said, "I need this song. Can you help me get it?" And they did. Eventually (and a little ironically) Courtney got it from...one of the DJs at DC101.
Anyway, that's the story of the music, and the meanings behind them, for Connor's service.