Sunday, September 18, 2011


As life quickly passes me by, I often forget things that I used to do. When my wife and I first met, I was doing a lot of coffeehouses in Connecticut. I chuckle to myself now as I think about how much I've grown since then. I recall a few moments that make me cringe. Before my wife and I were even dating, I had played one of my songs in church. She asked me whether or not she could get a copy of the words. You would think that a guy with half a brain would respond in the affirmative. Instead, I gave her some lame excuse about copyrights and how I was trying to protect my work. Really? Are you kidding me?

Another time, I had been invited to play at a gathering of student fellowship groups on the campus of the University of Connecticut. I guess I wasn't expecting to be background noise to people. I think I made some pretty rude comments that were only heard by the handful of people who were actually listening. Unbelievable. While I still have my moments, I've grown a lot in the last 15 years...thankfully.

I had a rare moment of peace the other day and I took out my acoustic guitar. The beauty of those peaceful moments is that in the midst of them, it is possible to weave through song after song. You start with one song, which reminds you of another song, which leads you to another, and before you know it, you find yourself swept away. It's a pretty cool experience. It's almost like playing musical "Six Degrees of Separation." How can I go from Guns n Roses' "Patience" to Dan Fogelberg's "Longer" in 6 steps or less?

It's been a while since I've written anything significant. Life has a way of doing that to us. Other things have taken priority, although I would love to get to a place where I might do it again. In the years leading up to my marriage, I actually recorded a CD with my own money (I was an engineer at the time, so I actually had some extra money). I've written plenty of other stuff since then, just haven't had the time, money, or other resources to make a recording a reality.

One of the songs that I stumbled upon as I played through some music was a song called "Never Said Goodbye" that I had written some years ago. Actually wrote it on August 13, 1999, to be exact. My wife was still in college while I was doing a lot of coffeehouses in our area. Her parents and their friends would come to hear me often. Looking back, they sure were great pre-in-laws to me.

The friends that they brought with them were another couple from church. The husband had been diagnosed with cancer, but he was still pretty vibrant. I never heard him complain and he always seemed genuine and authentic to me. I grew pretty accustomed to having both couples there when I would play the little pie shop down the street from our church on Black Rock Turnpike in Fairfield.

After having battled with cancer for some time, this friend finally succumbed to the terrible disease, leaving his wife and their three children as well as a son from another marriage behind. It was a really sad day for me. I guess that in some ways, I felt that death had gotten closer. Although we weren't incredibly close, I still felt a connection to this man. He was incredibly supportive and it was always great to see his smiling face when I played.

His wife wanted me and Carrie to sing at the funeral. I desperately fought to find the words to write a song, but they wouldn't come. I spent hours and hours searching for a way to express myself, but words just wouldn't come. We ended up choosing a Steven Curtis Chapman song, much better than anything I would have written, and how could you go wrong with SCC? A day or two after the funeral, I finished my song.

I was a little frustrated that it hadn't come earlier. I was a little frustrated that I was not able to share it with more people. A part of me wondered if Howard had heard it. There was no biblical basis for my thoughts, only dreams and wishes. But I still wondered.

In the wake of my mom's death, I was reminded of this song. There were some parallels, but not many, and I didn't want to cheapen the first experience with the song, nor did I want to give Mom second best. I was not a huge fan of Elton John revamping "Candle In the Wind" for Diana. Wasn't she worth more than that?

One day, I might actually record the song. To be honest, I was surprised that I actually remembered how to play the song. It has been years since I had played it in public. But I think that it came at the right time. The difference between my friend, Howard, and Mom was that I actually had the chance to say "goodbye" to Mom, and I did. I do long for that day when I will get to see them both again and when we won't have to say "goodbye." Even now, I think I'm gonna hold on to the fact that it's not really "goodbye," just "so long for now."

Never Said Goodbye by Jon Gibson

I remember the way you laughed, I remember the way you smiled,

How the light just danced within your eyes, like a child.

With a brilliance that could fill a room and a smile that just shined,

You'd share all of the joy in life that you'd find.

Now you've gone away, but you've left us with the pain,

Searching for the reason why.

All the memories and the love will still remain, but you never said goodbye.

You fought with a courage that makes lions look so small.

Your will to live brought that courage home to us all.

Finally, when you knew that the day was to arrive,

Your head held high, your fears cut low, you taught us how to die.

Now you've gone away, but you've left us with the pain,

Searching for the reason why.

All the memories and the love will still remain, but you never said goodbye.

Now time will pass, the pain will ease, the scars will still remain,

But our faith stands firm and we know,

That there's a place where we will meet again,

A place where our sorrows cannot go.

We will go away where there isn't any pain,

No need to question why.

All the memories and the love will still remain, but we'll never say goodbye.

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