We are climbing out of the ravine. I really mean you, who must make your way up from the bottom. As for me, I am perched on a ledge halfway down determined not to fall further and meet you on the rocks below. I’m grasping and and willing my way out, fingers bleeding, while you sit at the bottom trying to find a way. Wishing you could fly. Or die.

Tonight, I played us some songs on YouTube from the soundtrack to our times. The times we played, the times we commuted to work, the times we cleaned the house and weeded the garden, the times we partied, the times we had sex, the times we birthed babies, the times we rocked them to sleep, the times we accidentally got drunk sitting on the deck on a Friday night, the times we got stoned after the kids were in bed, the times we did road trips with the kids and a box of mixtapes, the times we fought and made up, the times we travelled, the times we danced at concerts and festivals and in pubs, the time you bought a KD Lang tape on a bus trip from Seattle to Vancouver and we played it so often I became part of its story and felt the road under the bus and saw us sharing the headphones of your Walkman, even though I wasn’t on that trip. The time we got married in a park with all of our kids there and a playlist of “hymns” by Van Morrison and the Smiths. The times we were homesick. The times that were hard, sad, gruelling, boring or tenuous. The times we thought we wouldn’t last the distance. The time we celebrated raising decent humans and high fived each other when they left home, feisty and capable. The times we laughed about what songs we wanted played at our funerals. I can’t remember now what songs I’ll have played at my funeral, but I can remember that you want Jackson Browne’s Rock me on the Water playing as we scatter your ashes into the Southern Ocean.

Many playlists, mixtapes, mix CDs and digital downloads later, here I am wrung out and filthy with sorrow for the joy you don’t have. There is no soundtrack for that except the furious beating of my heart with love for you, the pounding of blood in my head with hate for you like this, my weeping, raging and finally, the deep whooshing exhale of surrender. 

Now, it’s all I can do to keep sight of my own edges and see what songs are left to play for the times after this.

Deborah Nicholson