Discover more from Pass Along Songs
Music Shapes Us - Part II
Did you fall from a shooting star?
The second anniversary of my mom's passing, October 5th, is approaching fast and I have this sense that she’s close, and for lack of a better word, “listening.” Because of how she passed - in a hospice facility my sister transferred her to without telling me - I never had a chance to say goodbye. I didn’t learn that she had died until five days after the fact and wasn’t notified about the memorial service. My mother simply exited my life. My final communication with her was a call she placed a few days before she died. The last thing she said to me was, “I love you so much darlin. I hope you find peace.”
Does it matter that I wasn’t there to say goodbye? Should I worry that she left her body without feeling me holding her hand? I don’t know and I try not to think about it too much because there’s nothing I can do to change how events unfolded. Mostly I find myself hoping she finally knows how much I love her and can see who I really am. She was so disappointed when I refused to become a dentist and chose writing and illustration instead. It was only when I started publishing children’s books - with the stated goal of helping elementary kids learn to read and write - that she conceded that I might not be wasting my life. Yeah, that one hurt.
The song I’d like to share today is, “Drops of Jupiter” by Train. It was written by the group’s lead singer, Pat Monahan, after his own mother died. In the song, he imagines his mother’s spirit left her body and took off to explore the universe. “It’s a story about my mother coming back after like swimming through the planets and finding her way through the universe,” he explained in a Buzzfeed interview. “Then she comes back to tell me that heaven was overrated and [to] love this life, you know?”
Monahan’s mother returns with drops of Jupiter in her hair, a notion I think my mother would have loved. Though she majored in physical education, mom always wanted to study astronomy and was endlessly fascinated by the Enterprise, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour missions. I like to think of her spending time among the stars - finally able to answer the many questions she had about black holes, gas giants, and Saturn’s rings. And I can totally see her hitching a ride on a comet’s tail on her way back to Earth to report her findings. Let’s have a listen:
There’s so much more I could tell you about my mom. How her kindness, generosity and compassion were boundless; how she visited her blind friend twice a week every week for 28 years; how she loved crossword puzzles and bridge; how she delighted in reading me my horoscope even though she thought astrology was a “bunch of malarkey;” how she became a poet and a watercolor artist after my dad died; and how she tried but failed to broker a reconciliation between my sister and I.
From my perspective, my mother’s life was tragic, but it also provided me with the blueprint for my own healing. If there is one thing I regret, it’s that I couldn’t save her from the life and circumstances she chose and refused to leave. The best I‘ve been able to do is continue to free myself from all the dysfunctional, codependent patterns, beliefs, and assumptions she bequeathed to me and in doing so hope to set an example for others.
So Tell Me
Is your mother still alive?
What are three words you’d use to describe her?
What are your fondest and worst memories of her?
What is the most important lesson she taught you?
If you were to choose a song for your mom, what would it be?
Let the discussion begin!
Bonus - Wonderful Covers of “Drops of Jupiter”