How do I write this piece? How do I not?
My friend Jennifer recently lost her battle and is now gone. From shock and sadness I knew I needed to write something and set it out for others to read. Many, many people called Jennifer friend. From where you are across the world, I wish you had the chance to call Jennifer your friend as well.
Jennifer and I became friends in High School. I dated and eventually married her best friend. As life goes, I lost Jennifer in the divorce. Yet, we stayed in touch and Jennifer always pushed me to be a good father to my oldest son. I admired Jennifer’s strong will and when she wanted to talk, I always listened.
Over the past several days I have drifted back to Facebook to read the touching posts from her community of friends. We all want to focus on the positive and how Jennifer touched our lives. She also made such a difference in the lives of animals in need. She worked tirelessly to save unwanted pets, especially black cats and dogs. I wish my own rescued black feral cat got to meet Jennifer.
Yet with Jennifer the first thing I think of is Bruce Springsteen. Jennifer introduced me to the music and as I discovered, the poetry of Bruce Springsteen. I too am a big fan and I thank you Jennifer for that invitation. My favorite Springsteen song remains the first song on his first album, Thunder Road.
The night I heard of Jennifer’s passing, I played Thunder Road and thought of her. It is a song of moving on from our youth and finding our way in the world, a better way in life. It is a risk to step forward. Yet each of us must at one point step off the porch.
“Hey what else can we do now?
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
Well the night’s busting open
This two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back – Heaven’s waiting on down the tracks
Oh-oh come take my hand
Riding out tonight to case the promised land“
Over the years we drifted away and I was not aware of Jennifer’s demons. The earthly promised land apparently escaped Jennifer. I am far from perfect and that makes me Jennifer’s equal. And be honest, you are right there with us. We need each other.
“Oh, come take my hand” – no words are more powerful. I want to say those words to Jennifer. Every one of her friends and family want to say those words.
I searched today for how Bruce Springsteen himself describes Thunder Road. His brief description touched me and confirmed how I connect Jennifer now and forever with this favorite song of mine, introduced to me by Jennifer so many years ago. I will never forget.
“An invitation to a long and earthly, very earthly journey. Hopefully in the company of someone you love, people you love, and in search of a home you can feel a part of.”
May we all know when we are needed to reach out and say, “Take my hand. We ride together to case the promised land.”