Do not judge a song by its duration
Nor by the number of its notes
Judge it by the way it touches and lifts the soul
Sometimes those unfinished are among the most beautiful…
And when something has enriched your life
And when it’s melody lingers on in your heart.
Is it unfinished?
Or is it endless?
~ Author unknown
For those of you who have not yet heard the awful news, I’m so sorry to have to share that Tucker Gowen passed away yesterday morning. He passed peacefully, surrounded by family, and held in the love and prayers of those far and wide whose lives he had indelibly changed simply by the way that he lived his.
This isn’t the way the story was supposed to go. It just wasn’t.
My heart is shattered. For Jeni, for Truck, for Aisling, Lochlan, Finnian and Tristan. For all of us.
This wasn’t the way the story was supposed to go.
Telling Katie was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. “But I really believed that he was going to get well, Mama,” she said. “I really believed that.”
I wiped tears from her cheeks again and again, but they wouldn’t stop coming.
“He’s happy now,” she said. “I know he’s happy now. So why am I so sad?”
I told her that it was okay to be sad. That even when we know that someone is in a better place, we mourn their loss. We mourn the time that we could have had together and we mourn for those who will feel it the most.
“I’m so sad for Mrs. Gowen,” she said. “And Mr. Gowen. And all of Tuck’s siblings …”
She dissolved into tears.
We talked about Heaven. About what it must feel like there. I said that I was sure that there was no time in Heaven. That Tuck wouldn’t miss his family because it would feel like just a second of being alone. She said, “No, they’re with him there, Mama. Even though they’re not, they are. Heaven is like that.”
We decided that it must be filled with music. That Tuck could play whatever he wanted and jam with all the other musicians up there. For the first time she smiled. “Mama, he doesn’t need the keyboard now. They’ve got one that’s WAY cooler than anything on earth. And it doesn’t need to plug into his laptop. Heck, it doesn’t need to plug into anything. He can play the clouds!”
She asked what we would do about the bake sale now. I told her that we will do what we planned to do all along. We will bake and send the cookies and brownies to everyone who ordered them. We will talk to Child Life – and Jeni when she’s ready – about the best way to use the money for the Oncology floor and / or the ICU. And whatever we do will be in Tuck’s name. I told her that when Jeni is ready we will talk to her about the $800 that was set aside for the keyboard. That we’ll figure it all out when the time is right. But that no matter what, we will find the best way to use it all to honor and remember Tuck.
She tried to smile, but the tears wouldn’t stop. “It feels so wrong to be sad,” she said. “I know he’s happy now. I just can’t help feeling so sad.”
I held my sweet girl as she cried. “It’s okay to feel sad, baby. It’s okay to feel anything that you feel.”
Finally, she looked at me and said, “Mama, do you remember that song? The one that goes, ‘I’m not crying cause I feel sorry for you, I’m crying for me’?”
“I sure do, baby,” I said. And together we pieced together the lyrics from Wayman’s song that we remembered.
I’m gonna miss that smile
I’m gonna miss you my friend
Even though it hurts the way it ended up
I’d do it all again
So play it sweet in Heaven
‘Cause that’s right where you wanna be
I’m not crying ’cause I feel so sorry for you
I’m crying for me
To Jeni, Truck, Aisling, Lochlan, Finnian and Tristan … I hope to God you can feel even a fraction of the love that we are sending. I cannot fathom your grief. It is beyond comprehension. But please know that we hold you close in our hearts and our prayers as you make your way through the days ahead.
To Tuck … You will be desperately missed. But please know this .. You changed us all. You brought us together, and that ain’t no small thing. Play it sweet in Heaven, kid.