This week I’m in Las Vegas for the Sweet Adelines International Competition. I’m competing with The Pride of Portland Chorus. We’ve been rehearsing all week and will take the stage tomorrow morning at 11:30 for the semi-finals round. We have the privilege of being one of the top five choruses in the world so it’s a big deal for us. The journey to get here has been joyful and challenging, exhausting and exhilarating, and lots and lots of hard work.
It’s a little like the grieving process has been for me, especially over the past few months. A study in dichotomy. In a single day (sometimes a single hour) I can feel happy and optimistic about my future, and then suddenly be struck by the grief of what I’ve lost. This week has been odd, as I’ve held so much love and joy and happiness right alongside so much longing. It’s not so much that I feel sad, more that I feel like something’s missing.
Vegas is tough for me. John and I got married here in 2011 and renewed our vows here Labor day weekend of 2015 with the knowledge that he probably only had months left to live. In between, we made several trips here and created amazing memories, helicoptering into the Grand Canyon and sky diving from fourteen thousand feet. It was really “our place.”
So this week has been tinged with opposition for me. On the one hand, I’m having a ball doing something I love to do with people I love to do it with. Then something will trigger a memory and I have to deal with that.
The ballad we’ll sing tomorrow is called “If I Had My Way.” These are the words:
If I had my way you would reign everyday,
I want you to know…how I love you so.
If I had my way dear, forever there’d be
A garden of roses for you and for me
A thousand and one things dear, I would do
Just for you. All for you.
If I had my way, we would never grow old
And sunshine I’d bring every day.
You would reign all alone like a king on a throne
If I had my way.
We’d love every day, I’d be yours, come what may
If I had my way.
I’ve been singing this song for two years and have sung it numerous times since John died and never really had a problem getting through it. In the last few days, it’s been a challenge. The emotion of the song and the deep meaning it has for me threaten to push me over the edge. I feel so much when I’m singing it. I can see the moments John and I shared during his final days, the things whispered to each other, important things we needed to say and hear. Really everything we needed to say and hear. I can feel the longing for things to be different “if I had my way.” The wish for just one more day or hour or minute with him. And somehow, I also celebrate what we had and the way I loved him when I sing it.
I sing it to him and about him and I hold on by a thread, just on the verge of tears but knowing I can’t give in to them, surrounded by amazing women who have me and won’t let me fall. I am so blessed by this chorus and what it brings to my life and I feel that when I sing as well. John knew they’d be there for me and loved them because of it.
I believe he’ll be with me tomorrow on that big stage, willing me to grab all the joy of that brief time, to sing my heart out, and to remember our time together with gratitude and love. #livelikejohnny #lovetrumpscancer