Saying Goodbye Again: You are Like the Rain

Last weekend in DC I saw 2 shows by 2 iconic men. First, it was Paul Simon on his farewell, “Homeward Bound” tour, where he wowed me with his musicianship and imagination on a song called, “Rene and Georgette Magritte At Home with Their Dog After the War.” Backed up by yMusic, the song is full of mystery, delicate laughter, and Simon’s eloquent hand gestures that are themselves so beautiful as to seem surreal.
Two nights later, I was at the Birchmere to hear Nils Lofgren, whose wife, Amy, comped my tickets for his nearly sold-out show. Like Simon, being in the room with Lofgren’s music fills me with joy at his virtuosity, his musicianship, his own clear love of creating something as ephemeral as
music. Nothing compares to the joy of watching a grown man blissed out in the refracted joy of playing guitar with his three  brothers, all on stage, happily jamming to an audience full of family and old friends. It was a heaven.
Then Nils played Like Rain, something he’d written as a man-child, seventeen, my son’s age. I cried. The first anniversary of another beloved son’s fentanyl overdose approaches. My sadness is unspeakable. What to do? Can anyone lessen my anguish, or my family’s? If only we could
stand together and sing.

Embrace others if you can, even at work. Let them know you share their humanity. Perhaps your heart sings a similar song. Maybe you walk the same path. No human alive has has not experienced a deep loss.

Send a note. I have never been so lonely, or so relieved to hear from friends. Nils signed my guitar: Believe. I must. What else can a body do? Believe and love. The only way out is through.

TAGS: grief, loss, Paul Simon, Nils Lofgren, music, comfort, lovingkindness, loneliness, opioids, Fentanyl, comfort the grieving

Bowie Tribute on The Health Care Blog

Thanks to the editors at for featuring my tribute to David Bowie and one of my favorite songs, Ground Control to Major Tom.  I’ve contributed to THCB in the past, but always about health policy. I’m glad to have found a kindred spirit there, who can appreciate that we do, in fact, mourn our icons and celebrities and public figures, who come to represent and even become a part of a time and space in our own lives.

I have since colored the image and hope others will find it mysterious, joyful, with a bit of longing for a time when life seemed that it truly might last forever.

Bowie in the stars

And just in case you’d like a clean copy of your own to color, feel free to try this version–but be sure to share what you come up with!

The stars look very different today

The stars look very different today

That Would Be singing

We had gone as far as the road
Could take us. We’d come to other forks,
Made up our minds, made do.

This place, though, we gave up
Our fancy machines and traveled
On by foot.

Sometimes, we still laughed,
Caught our breath at wonders
That came our way.
When we had to, we raised
Our voices to the wind
As if it might change direction.

While we had each other,
We were never lost. Even when night
Worried us, or we faltered.
We held each other steady.

But at this stopping point
The path is only wide enough
For one to go, one to follow.

I will take the light, you say,
Wait here, I will clear a way.
I can hear you sing
One old tune we both could carry.

Then silence, so I pick up
Where you left off.
The only way out
Is through. We will meet 
In the end.

Into the stars!

for Erik

You hurtle down a southern highway
Nothing you love better than this
Bike holding to the road, your face
Stretched to the wind splitting
Across the fahring. You can see
For miles, the truckers and the texters
The unfamiliar road and the trees, bent
With the remnants of summer heat.
You have poured your life
Into this bike, worked her to your specs
Cradled her old engine, pushed the throttle
And disappeared.

I can see us riding now, our disappearing future
Hurtling us to the stars, so far from home
We label them with numbers
And cannot count the miles.
We will hit that road before we know it,
Unable to look down or back,
We will hurtle through the dark
Wind that does not call our names.


key words: motorcycles, BMW R-Series, eternity, love, death

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