Editor’s Note: Song lyrics denoted in bold italics.
Damn you, Pandora, you’ve done it to me again. How is it that you do this to me every single time I listen to you? It’s like you have this power over me and are able to completely put me in a trance. You know, the kind where you literally have to STOP and listen to the words because they’re telling your story.
R.E.M’s “Everybody Hurts”
From Automatic For The People
This song came out when I was young. Too young to really know what the words meant or the feelings they were trying to capture. And honestly, the slow vibe of the melody sort of bored me to death. Blah, I thought, what’s so special about this song? Why is everyone and their emo, flannel-wearing brother so obsessed with it? It just didn’t make much sense to me.
And then, in the usual way I’ve come to divide my life, my father died.
When your day is long
And the night, the night is yours alone
When you’re sure you’ve had enough
Of this life, well hang on
Don’t let yourself go
‘Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes
The days used to be so long just after he died. It felt like I was walking through a haze and my whole body felt heavy. And the nights? Well, those were pretty dark too. The quiet had a way of being downright deafening at times; going through the throes of grief and being alone with all your thoughts can be a very bad combination. There were a lot of nights where I’d just lie there in the dark under the covers because I didn’t know what else to do. Ir maybe I didn’t want to do anything else? Even now, I’m not quite sure.
Sometimes everything is wrong
Now it’s time to sing along
When your day is night alone (Hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go (Hold on)
If you think you’ve had too much
Of this life, well hang on
Take comfort in your friends
Don’t throw your hand, oh no
Obviously, it helped in the beginning to know that I wasn’t alone. To know that, yes, everybody hurts and that no one’s life is picture-perfect easy was a comfort, as odd as that sounds. And the support of my family meant the world to me — probably more than they’ll ever know — and I hope that I was just as much of a help to them. It’s such a wonderful thing when you can lean on people who are going through the same thing, isn’t it? You can commiserate and cry and vent and even laugh, all the while knowing that you won’t be judged or ridiculed for it. It’s a pretty safe feeling, actually.
If you’re on your own in this life
The days and nights are long
When you think you’ve had too much of this life to hang on
And these lines? Well, they reminded me of my father — in ways I never expected. I’ve wanted to shout this to him for years, but, ironically, I can’t because he’s not here. Why didn’t he once think to stick around, grab onto us for dear life and hold on with everything he had? Did he really not think that we’d do ANYTHING for him? We’d have moved mountains and parted the seas if only he’d told us what he was feeling and told us of the dark place he was in. It wasn’t like him to keep us so in the dark, so to speak, and I suppose I’ll always have those sorts of questions in the back of my mind.
Then the realist in me always seems to come out, though, and realize that perhaps that’s exactly why he didn’t tell us. He knew that we would have done anything and, obviously, that’s the last thing he wanted. But he wasn’t alone. And I hope he knew that, even in the end. He was never alone. We loved him so much.