Yesterday I woke up at 4:30 a.m. from a very weird dream, missing my husband, who died less than a year ago, dreadfully. My habit when I had an awful dream was to spill it all out to Fred and then watch for his grin and wait for him to say, “What was that all about?” Then, of course, I would spin my psychological interpretation, and we would both yawn and go back to sleep.
This time I could not go back to sleep. I couldn’t get closure on my dream and the pain in my legs and feet were making sleep impossible. And I desperately wanted Fred’s company.
I waited until 5:00 a.m. and gratefully reached for my phone (a Christmas gift from my son) and turned on Morning Edition on NPR – the app for which was installed by my son (another gift). I listened to the radio for about 2 hours and then got up and tried to start my day. I was still bummed out, so I told Alexa who lives in my Echo (a gift from my son on Mother’s day) to play Neil Diamond music.
Neil kept me company as I piddled around the house doing little odd jobs that I had been putting off for weeks. And then, thankfully, I realized that my gratefulness for my son, the journey through decades of songs by my favorite singer, and the rhythm of the work I was accomplishing plus the company of the Holy Spirit who made me grateful for the life I still have) had turned my day around.
And then last night, I watched a PBS documentary on the life of Sam Cooke. As soon as I heard the song, “A Change is Gonna Come” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEBlaMOmKV4) (written by the singer after he and his group were turned away from a hotel during a tour), I began crying. I cried because it is a beautiful and powerful song. I cried because of the wonder of Sam Cooke’s voice and his graceful stage presence. I cried because the lyrics reminded me of all the wrongs that Fred had endured: the physical mistreatment, the slams and slurs and insults, the opportunities he was denied, the pain of rejection that was an everyday occurrence. I cried because his inner turmoil caused physical damage, and the life he could have led slipped away.
I cried because he didn’t get to listen with me to the music of an artist, someone whose music he had probably sung in many cities as his high school band toured Michigan. I cried because I didn’t get a chance to ask him what Sam Cooke’s lyrics meant to him. I cried because of the racism that is still overwhelming this country. I cried because few people who are not Black know of “the troubles” these brothers and sisters have seen – nor do they care. I cried because Sam Cooke is gone and Fred is gone and life will never be the same.