Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Who Needs Tomorrow?

The opening chords wring my heart every time, haunting me with a combination of regret and relief.  Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight" never ceases to stop me in my tracks.  In the first few years after Sean's death, I could barely listen to the song without crying.  The words fill me at once with sorrow for the brevity of our time together and more importantly the untimeliness of his death, and satisfaction that my memories of our last few days together remain so very vivid.  A part of me knew it was all coming to an end - I just didn't know it would end as it did.

Many nights, after all the patrons had left and I had locked the doors, I would play the song on the jukebox at Charly's, now the Wright Place, and saturate myself in the lyrics and the memories.  I always feel Sean's presence most strongly through music, and in that music, when I am alone in the bar.

I didn't know that the last time I closed The Wright Place would be the last time I closed The Wright Place.  If I had known, I would have played that song one last time.

My one night shift a week had become an increasing strain on our marriage.  We are living deep in the trenches of early parenthood.  Our girls, just 17 months apart, are only 2 years old and 7 months old.  We couldn't ask for better children - They are healthy, bright, as well-behaved as we could reasonably ask.  But they are a lot of work.  And we've decided that for now, that is work we must do together, night after night, to strengthen our family.  There are still so many turns that life could take, roads that life may lead us down, and life promises us nothing except that it will keep on going, ready or not.

Still, it was with an aching heart that I resigned my Tuesday night shift at The Wright Place.  The shift has been mine for almost 7 years now, since I returned from law school.  Tuesday nights were waiting for me after three maternity leaves.  I've collected the March Madness brackets by the close of the bar on Tuesday night before the tournament begins for four years.  I trained Leanne on a Tuesday night.  I've been doing the liquor inventory on Tuesday nights for years.  One Tuesday night, several years ago, I broke the weeknight sales record.  The bartender rotation has gone round and round but for the last nearly 7 years, Tuesday nights have been generally consistent.  For nearly 7 years, they have been mine.

Some things never change, until they do.  The decision was sudden and shocking to my bosses; it shocked the shit out of me.  And it is not without sadness that I've not reported to The Wright Place for the last three weeks.  I didn't even get to say good-bye.

Bob Seger begs, "Why don't you stay?"  After all, who needs tomorrow?  Tomorrow is not a guarantee, and I know that well.  I never got to say good-bye to Sean either.  I needed tomorrow, but that tomorrow never came. But as clearly as I heard the words "Let's make it last; let's find a way," I could also hear "I long for love, like everyone else does. I know I'll keep searching even after today."  My burning desire for love couldn't be extinguished even by the sobering sight of Sean's lifeless body.

The world kept on spinning, as the world does, and the sun continued to rise, as the sun will, and at the end of the day somewhere things are ending, and somewhere else they are just beginning.  And we just have to keep moving.

Maybe I'll be back someday. Maybe I'll continue to host my annual Anti-Valentine's Day Party, an event that started in dark remembrance of the day Sean died, but which has evolved into one of the most successful events of the year.  I don't know what tomorrow brings, and I don't even know that I'll have a tomorrow.  I know that I have today, right now, this moment.  I'm doing all that I know how to do to live today, right now, in this moment.