Loss brings pain. Yes. But pain triggers memory. And memory is a kind of new birth, within each of us. –Sue Miller
During a recent bout of insomnia, I found The Buddy Holly Story on television. I had never seen it. I’d seen La Bamba. I know too well about the plane crash and the day the music died.
At 4 am. I am watching Gary Busey, as Buddy, getting ready to leave his pregnant wife to go on tour. It’s 1959. She doesn’t want him to leave. They get lovey-dovey. And she becomes fine.
Holly, age 23, opens his last concert telling the audience he’s nervous, hasn’t been on stage for a while and wants do start with a hard song, a slow one. He sings TRUE LOVE WAYS. A lump forms in my throat. I’m gone. Back in my pre-pubescence at Saturday night dancing class and the beginning of Bar and Bat Mitzvah days.
Several memories flash through my mind. I think one or more occurred at a Bar Mitzvah.
–I’m dancing cheek-to-cheek with my first boyfriend. I am happy. TRUE LOVE WAYS captures US. Or maybe just ME. Already, I’m worried that he and I aren’t a forever deal.
–I’m dancing cheek-to-cheek with an obnoxious boy in my class. My true love is dancing with the cutest girl at the party. His eyes are closed. I want to throw up. I can’t stand watching them. Or being in the arms of the know-it-all creep. Closeness with him makes me feel lonely. I want TRUE LOVE WAYS to end.
–I’m not dancing with anyone. I am standing by myself watching the sharp kids do the slow one. Cheek to cheek. Ouch!
Busey gets a rollicking applause and then rocks out into Buddy Holly fast ones. I get out of bed and rock, too to THAT’LL BE THE DAY. I then sing along to PEGGY SUE. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty Peggy Sue. After his concert—his last one—Buddy Holly’s life, along with the Big Bopper’s and Ritchie Valens’ ends.
I’ll never know which if either of the above dance encounters or my standing alone on the sidelines actually occurred. I know the plane crash did. During the wee small hours, TRUE LOVE WAYS triggered all kinds of emotions, choking me up—as the slow ones through the ages do—about loss and love and loneliness and fragility. And heaven knows what else. “Music is the language of the spirit,” wrote Kahlil Gibran. Or as Sir Paul McCartney sings, “I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom. Let it be.”