Amazing Grace

Life, Thoughts and Opinions
Willie Nelson

Image by Behind The Music via Flickr

I thought I should check in on the blog since it has been awhile and my last post was so sad and blubbery.

I haven’t picked up my camera since the day my mom told me that Doug didn’t have very long to live. Almost 3 weeks. It’s weird. I don’t understand this. You’d think I would find solace in some kind of creative activity like photography but I just don’t have any desire for it. I have been knitting like a maniac. Knitting has been a huge comfort to me. I’ve been working on my ZickZack tunic and so I kind of have something to look forward to as I finish it up. There is something about working with your hands that is very comforting, you know?

I’ve been reading all of the cliche books about the afterlife and things like that. Yes, this is one of the symptoms of grief. But it actually is helping me. I just finished a really interesting book yesterday called Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian L. Weiss that is about past lives. A coworker had just finished it and suggested it to me. I finally read it yesterday and, wow. It’s really interesting. I’ve always been kind of interested in these kinds of things. I don’t know that I’ve ever really believed in past lives. I haven’t discounted it as a possibility because, quite frankly, how do we even know what lies on the other side. But this book is really interesting because it is written by a highly regarded Psychiatrist who was very scientific and not religious at all. He happened to stumble on “Past Life Regression” during a hypnosis session with one of his patients. This book is the story of that experience. I really like the book because it is presented in a very non spiritual, non religious way. It is not all new-agey and weird. So if you are at all interested in these kinds of things I highly recommend it.

Going through the experience of watching Doug die was really eye-opening for me. Someone mentioned the word “humbling” and that is exactly what it is. It really made me realize how precious life is. There were some things that happened that I can’t really ignore and I don’t think were coincidences. The fact that both my dad and his best friend called at the moment that he died was really weird. There was something on another level going on there that I can’t explain.

There is another thing that happened that is too strange to ignore.

The evening of his funeral my sister and brothers and their kids, along with some of Doug’s friends were at my mom’s house. Everyone was drinking (some more heavily than others) and we cried and talked about Doug all evening. At one point my sister brought out some records from Doug’s vast collection to play. Records that reminded us of Doug. I knew instantly what album I wanted to listen to. Willie and Family Live. My mom bought this album way back when Doug and she were dating and I’ve always loved it. It has always reminded me of Doug. The reason why I love Willie Nelson today is because of this album. So I really wanted to listen to some of it that evening. (On a side-note, each of us siblings picked out a different album that reminded us of him. It was kind of neat to see which ones each of us picked). We put it on eventually and listened to one side of it. That side ended and I noticed the music stopped so I went to turn the album over (I had to re-learn how to use a record player really quick). I got it going and we had it playing in the background again. I noticed after a short time that the music stopped again. I thought “wow that’s weird. It doesn’t seem like enough time has gone by for a whole side to play.” So I went in to check on it and I was right. It was still going, I could hear the vibrations of the grooves of the record but it wasn’t coming out the speakers. For some reason I decided to let it go. I fucked around with the knobs a bit to see if I could get it working again but then just left it playing like that after I couldn’t get it working. After a few minutes the music started again, and kind of loud (probably because I turned the loudness up when I was messing around with it). Since it was louder than background music we kind of couldn’t ignore it. Guess what song was playing? Willie Nelson’s awesome rendition of “Amazing Grace.” My sister stopped in the middle of the living room and said, “listen to what song is playing. Amazing Grace. I love this song.” And we all sat and listened to it. His best friend (the one that called when Doug died), who had been nipping a little too much on the Irish Whiskey, started singing it. It was a beautiful moment. The speakers worked fine the rest of the night, just as they did forever and always before that evening. There has never been a problem with those stereo speakers. Ever.

I sort of thought about this on the drive back to Oregon the next day. I decided to download the “Willie and Family Live” album from iTunes. I listened to Willie sing “Amazing Grace” again. Really listened to the song, the words and the music. I realized at that moment that Doug was sending us a message. I know it. And this is exactly how he would send it. He loved Willie Nelson and if he was gong to send us a message with a sappy song like Amazing GraceĀ  it would be Willie Nelson’s rendition of it. The song directly after is “Take this job and shove it.” How beautifully irreverent is that? That was Doug. Slightly irreverent, but very genuine.

I know it might seem crazy. But I was completely sober when this happened. I was driving that evening and made a point not to drink. And I had gotten over that zombie-like phase of the grieving process. I was very much in my right mind when this happened. Doug was telling us not to worry and that he is O.K. He’s more than O.K. He is in that horribly cliched “better place.” And you know what? It gives me lots of comfort to really know that. I still miss him though. I still wish he was still here to talk to. But there isĀ  some comfort in knowing that he’s doing just fine.