I’ve been rediscovering and listening to the Eagles this week, as I’m sure many of us have following the death of lead singer Glenn Frey on January 18. Man, I forgot how good they were and just how many of their songs were soundtracks of my childhood in the 70s and 80s.
One of their songs, Hole in the World, particularly struck me this week. I’ve listened to it at least a dozen times as I’ve been out walking with my dog.
I love the powerful way they repeat these lyrics.
“There’s a hole in the world tonight. Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.”
The song was written by Frey and fellow Eagle Don Henley as a response to 9/11, but I didn’t know that as I was listening to it this week. (I just looked it up while writing this post.) As I listened, I was thinking of the hole we feel when a loved one dies. The hole Frey’s friends and bandmates and family must feel right now.
I was thinking of the hole I felt when my dad died unexpectedly four years ago. I felt that hole physically, in my stomach and chest, for weeks after. And then I felt it as the heavy weight of his absence from the every day, as the world continued to hum along without him.
We did all the traditional things families do after a death. His church family hosted a memorial where my brother and I spoke. I wrote and published his obituary.
I listened, comforted, and was comforted myself, by stories of him told by friends and family.
I carefully sorted through the material possessions of his life and took time to distribute them to the people and organizations and causes he cared about.
I sorted and scanned family pictures. I gathered his small collection of personal writings—the most precious “thing” he left.
I took care of all the details required in disposing of a life. The busyness of all that helped carry me for a time and provided a fragile bridge. But I still felt the hole.
Some days it felt like I’d never climb out of it, but I eventually did. The alternative was creating another “hole in the world” for the people who love and depend on me. This quote by poet Rudy Francisco describes my shift in thinking.
That’s when I started writing my way out of the hole. Through poems and this blog I filled—and continue to fill—a space. A space that opened up through loss. Hopefully, there is some beauty somewhere in my pages. It’s the most precious “thing” I leave.