has been said, 'time heals all wounds.'
I do not agree. The wounds remain.
In time, the mind, protecting its sanity,
covers them with scar tissue and the pain
But it is never gone.”
I'll admit, I wasn't quite sure what to do with this
newsletter. You'd think having a whole week off from
work woulda helped but the mice who invaded my house had
other ideas. They literally kept me hopping.
And, admittedly, I spent a lot more time updating the web
site as opposed to writing anything new. But,
truthfully, the annual John's birthday newsletter tends to
be the hardest one for me to write each year. It was
much easier when he was still with us and I could just send
a couple goofy top tens or whatnot. And then there was
always the thought, stated or not, that this could be the
year when he'd resurface on a new show. Whether it was
likely or not, there being a possibility was
comforting. And then that possibility was gone.
And here's another thing I'll admit: I spend the bulk of the
year in denial. Sort of. It's not that I don't
know that John Dye passed away. Of course I do!
But I just can't really think about it because every two
weeks a JABB newsletter is due. And I really don't
think I could continue to write about Andrew if the fact
that his portrayer is dead was top of mind for me. I
kind of just have to set that aside. But then when
this newsletter comes around, I have to face the truth head
on. Dyeland goes away and there's just reality.
And that can be difficult. So I find myself turning to
the same thing that brought me peace in those first few days
after John went Home: music.
So below is a listing of a few songs that have brought a lot
of peace, hope, and joy to me in the years since John's
death. Hopefully, if any peak your interest, you can
find them on YouTube or whatnot. And if you have some
songs you'd like to add, please send em along with a little
write up on what they mean to you.
"When I Look Up" from The
Cotton Patch Gospel- I'm not sure what it is about
this song but it just brings me peace. It probably
helps that it was written by Harry Chapin who wrote another
song that inspired my parents to name me Jenni. And
then to have it placed in the context of a Southern-themed
Gospel account... I dunno. It just seemed to provide a
good context for remembering John and also the faith that
reminds me that death is never the end.
"Endless Night" from The Lion King- In this song,
Simba calls out to his deceased father, Mufasa. It
starts very dirge-like but ends on a triumphant, joyous note
as Simba and the chorus sing about the sun rising at the end
of a dark night of the soul. It's gorgeous. This
song has helped me process a lot.
"Wildflowers" by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers- I'm not
sure when exactly but at some point this song started to
remind me of Heaven. When I listen to this, I tend to
set aside grief and imagine John and all my departed loved
ones living it up in Paradise.
"Hold Your Head Up" by Argent- I have a tendency to lose my
appetite when upset. Just for reference: I've lost 8-9
pounds just over this mice debacle. So you can imagine
how finicky I get when actual grief is involved. A few
days after John passed away, my parents coaxed me out of my
house for dinner at Five Guys (a burger joint). I'm
not even that much of a burger fan but I realized I had to
eat. So I went. And as I was sitting down to my
first real meal since news of John's death reached us, this
song started. You might remember it from the TBAA
episode "At Risk" (although, unfortunately, I think it was
removed on the DVD.) I actually laughed. It
seemed like a sign from John that I needed to get it
together... and eat that burger!
"Love, Reign O'er Me" by Pearl Jam- I don't even remember
how I found this song or where I first heard it. I
just know that it was one of the songs I listened to for
inspiration while writing "House
of the Lord" back in 2009. Come 2011, it came
back to me and the lead singer's passionate, primal delivery
just made it impossible to sit still. Whether foot
tapping of head banging, the movement just made me feel
alive. It maybe sounds funny but I guess I needed a
reminder that I was still alive and that our bodies are
miraculous, vibrant things and death doesn't make that any
less true. For context: Heart problems run in my
family so on top of the obvious grief following John's
death, I was honestly terrified about my health and that of
my family members'. So this felt good.
"Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen- This is one of the most human
songs I have ever heard. When I listen to it, I
remember that no matter what grief or anxiety we feel,
millions of others have felt the same for thousands and
thousands of years. And yet we're still here.
The world keeps turning. We keep singing... even if
sometimes all we can manage are "broken hallelujahs."
"After the Storm" by Mumford & Sons- "And there will
come a time, you'll see, with no more tears. And love
will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears. Get
over your hill and see what you find there, with grace in
your heart and flowers in your hair." I still get a
lump in my throat every time I hear this song. My dad
and brother became Mumford & Sons fans right around the
time John passed away and this CD was playing constantly in
the car. And this one just grabbed me. It helped
me imagine a time when death itself will die and we'll look
back and, finally, understand it all.
"Carry On" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young- So every
Valentine's I've written a Dyeland story. The 2011 one
was particularly challenging since I had to start writing it
mere weeks after John Dye passed away. For some
reason, thinking about Doc Hock was easier for me than
thinking about Andrew. So I created a playlist full of
hippie-era music to listen to as I brainstormed this
story. And I fell in love with this song.
It's just so hopeful and yet has a gravitas that
acknowledges that life is sometimes really hard.
"C.S. Lewis Song" by Brooke Fraser- “If I find in myself
desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only
logical explanation is that I was made for another
world.” That quote from C.S. Lewis drives this song
which is a great reminder that no matter what happens in
this world, a better one is waiting.
"Jesus, Remember Me" by Taizé- This biblical passage kept
running through my head over and over and over in the wake
of John's death. I'm not even really sure why. I
don't recall ever feeling particularly drawn to the good
thief's prayer beforehand. Since then, this has become
the sentence I repeat over and over when I'm feeling anxious
Bonus: So this song doesn't so much have to do with my
feelings about John Dye but rather represents what it was
that kept JABB from folding shortly after his death.
"What Wondrous Love Is This" by Fernando Ortega- For me,
this song mentally scores JenniAnn's revelation scene with
Joshua from "The
Carpenter." Writing that was really the
culmination of the spiritual journey I took following John
Dye's death. At a certain point, I had the thought "Ya
know, many of the disciples lived for decades after Jesus...
who they actually knew, touched, talked with, and loved as a
friend... died. They survived that. You
can survive this." Which was great and very healing...
until it turned to "But, gosh, at least they got to spend
some time with Him in the flesh... I've lived my whole
life without hearing Him or touching Him or seeing
Him. I'm not sure I've got decades of that
left in me." Which is really sad but also would have
ended JABB because I started leaning heavily on the Joshua
character as a sort of distraction from Andrew when it was
too hard to focus on him and remember that John was
dead. So if Joshua became too painful to deal with...
bye-bye Dyeland stories and then bye-bye JABB. But
when I wrote that scene, it was so emotionally real for me
that I no longer felt quite so bereft.
This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye
for, even in death, reminding us that life and love are
eternal. "I want you to know there's nothing...
nothing to be afraid of. On one side, there's life. And on
the other...there's life, too." ~~Andrew, Random Acts