Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dear Memory Bank, Long live...

My nieces adore Taylor Swift.  One of my favorite memories with my oldest niece Brileigh is when I went to stay with my sis's family after Bo was born.  We both sat on her bed and played the Fearless CD over and over so we could get down the lyrics.  It reminded me so much of when I was little, and her mother and I would rewind tapes over and over and pause them so we could write down the lyrics and memorize them.

My brother's generous friend who works in the music business was able to get us great tickets to the Taylor Swift concert in Lubbock.  My sisters in law, sis, the 3 oldest nieces, and my mom were all slated to go.  Mom ended up taking a trip with a girlfriend so Dad went in her place.  Since my brother's friend was there, my brother and nephew Landry went, too (and were in the sound booth close to where Taylor did a set; Landry even got a hug from her!).  My talented SIL made the girls matching shirts to wear.  The crowd was sold out, and there was a sea of excited girls.  I loved seeing how many young girls were there with their parents.  We were happy to be among them.

I knew I would love the concert.  I love her music.  And I love being anywhere with my nieces.  What I didn't know was that I would tear up so many times in the concert!  Melodramatic much?  Yes, thankyouverymuch.

Her songs are so innocent and written with such raw honesty about those pivotal years in your life.  Years that I've struggled with remembering kindly due to an overshadowing of bad decisions the last 6 months of high school that tainted an otherwise really special teen experience.  As she sang some of my favorites, I got teary eyed remembering that time in your life when you have a clean slate and you walk around believing life is yours for the taking, but you're ignorant as to what that means specifically and what it will ultimately look like in your life.

The song Fifteen gets me every time.  She also sang one I'd never heard before, "Long Live" that just about made me lose it.  It's an upbeat, reflective song celebrating the window of success she's experiencing, and recognizing (with far more maturity than I had at her age) that while it's just a window (a very large one, I'd argue), some day it will be a memory and her hopes that the memory will long live.  It made me reflect on all my own windows whose memories have lived long.  I thought of many summers at Lake LBJ with my cousins having the best of times.  I thought of high school basketball and what a fun, successful, special time I shared with my teammates.  I thought of college with my girlfriends and Jonathan and what I will always remember as a seminal college weekend...the 1998 Big 12 championship game in St. Louis.  I thought of the last girls' trip with Mom and Lori to D.C. before grandkids changed the landscape of our family.  I thought of the summer Jonathan and I lived in New Jersey and had the time of our lives.

And most of all, I thought of that very evening.
  • Of my brother, BIL and husband giving baths and putting 6 sweet smelling little ones to bed in their jammies.  
  • Of my mom who is blessed to have both the health and the means to travel with a girlfriend.  
  • Of my dad sitting in a concert he would have been out of place in before he had granddaughters, but who now wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  
  • Of my brother who always had lots of friends in high school and who still nurtures those old friendships well, so well that he was sitting with one during the concert.  
  • Of my handsome 7 year old nephew who was so underwhelmed by Taylor Swift that he kept asking what her name was and was embarrassed to be hugged by her.  :-)  
  • Of my big sis who has the blessing of watching sisterhood play out before her very eyes with her own girls and who always welcomes me to peek at what mothering girls looks like.  
  • And most of all, of my precious nieces who watched in wonder at the concert, some shyly mumbling the words, some boldly proclaiming them.  Some with wide grins and some with reserved smiles.  All at the time in their lives when they have a clean slate and believe life is theirs for the taking, but ignorant as to what that means specifically and what it will ultimately look like.  I watched their expressions almost as much as I watched the stage.  I don't think I've ever enjoyed watching someone else be so filled with joy.  When she sang the line, "...long live that look on your face", I knew I would never forget the look on theirs.

And I thought...this moment right here...now this is a window.  This time in my life where those I love are healthy and happy and sharing life together.  And I recognized (and this perhaps spawned the tears) that it's fleeting.  That there will come a day when my parents aren't healthy, when they're no longer with us even.  There will likely come a day (though I hope it's far away) when my siblings' and my own family don't share life together like we do now because of full schedules, disagreements, or something else.   That life will unfold for my precious nieces and hand them disappointment and heartbreak and may even fill them with some regret.

But I recognized with a full heart (insert more tears) that the memory will long live.  That many years from now there will be a Taylor Swift song on an oldies station, and I will remember that night.  And so will my nieces.  And no matter what happens between now and that day, when we do hear it, we will be transported back to that night when we sang, and we danced, and we smiled, and we excitedly anticipated what song was next.  I am so grateful for that. 

{Excerpt from "Long Live"}

Will you take a moment? Promise me this...
That you'll stand by me forever.
But if God forbid fate should step in
And force us into a goodbye,
If you have children some day
When they point to the pictures,
Please tell them my name.
Tell them how the crowds went wild;
Tell them how I hope they shine.



  1. Awesome awesome Sis!!!! I am bawling as I type this! Boy how fleeting time is!!! Thank u so much for experiencing that night with me & my girls! It's something I will never forget with them! They like myself think aunt min is awesome!!! I love you!

  2. Thanks for making we cry this morning at work! What a wonderful post.