“They say nothing lasts forever. I don’t care what they say, I will love you forever, forever, forever.”

—The Reminders

Reminders of Emily are everywhere. It was apropos that I was listening to hip hop musical group, The Reminders, at an outdoor concert when they sang their song, “Forever.” I was just commenting on how much Emily would like these musicians when they performed their heart-wrenching, beautiful song about loss and love. I was thankful I was wearing sunglasses to hide the tears welling up in my eyes. I felt as if my heart was bursting because my love for my daughter will last forever, even though she is no longer physically with me.

I was so moved, that I approached singer, Aja Black, after the show to let her know that the song touched me in a profound way. I felt compelled to speak to her only because I know how much it means to me when someone tells me my own work has impacted them. As the words came tumbling out of my mouth,

“Your song, ‘Forever,’ touched my heart. I lost my daughter,” I blurted, “She was 21.” 

Aja grabbed me and hugged me in a tight embrace for what was probably only a few minutes, but could have been an eternity. No words were necessary. As she pulled back away from me she told me it was from one mother’s heart to another. I began to cry, suddenly becoming self-conscious that we were in the middle of a crowd of concert-goers. My friend, Melissa, who also lost her stepson to fentanyl poisoning, had come up toward the stage with me. I explained to Aja that Melissa had also lost a child and Aja turned to hug her too. 

As we left the park, I began to think about my love song to Emily—the one I played for her on a little CD player in her room—every night as a child, “I Love You Always Forever,” by Donna Lewis. As we sat in our lawn chairs, enjoying the music, I had shared with Melissa how I had heard that 90’s song over and over again right after Emily died, from the piped-in music at Walmart to the first song to play on the car radio on the two-month anniversary of her death. Just like The Reminders,” Forever,” this song is also is about loving someone “always forever.” In the months following her death, every time I heard that song, it seemed like a sign from Emily that she was okay and I was desperate for signs of my daughter following her death. 

The July air was warm and dusk was setting in. Melissa and I were not quite ready to call it a night. We walked through the crowded downtown—people everywhere—-all glad to be socializing once again following the pandemic. We slipped into a small, dark bar, and grabbed a table against the wall. I took out my phone to snap a photo and a bartender offered to take a picture of us. A couple of minutes later he breezed by our table and said, “I’m going to play your song.” I didn’t know what he meant and I shrugged.  There was a pause in the music and suddenly Donna Lewis’ voice filled the room, “Feels like I’m standing in a timeless dream. Of light mist, of pale amber rose….” 

I looked a Melissa, my eyes as wide as saucers and she stared back at me in disbelief. 

“I love you always, forever. Near and far, closer together. Everywhere I will be with you….”

“How?” I uttered.

“I have no idea,” Melissa said.

“It’s really weird, “ she said. “But I think it’s a gift.” 

It certainly felt as if Emily was right there with me, around me, in me, that entire night. There could be a logical explanation for why the bartender picked that song. I tried to ask, but he just said, “because.” The place was busy and I didn’t press the matter. Maybe he’d read a previous blog I had written mentioning that song. It’s not probable, but it’s possible. However, it doesn’t really matter, because I chose to take it as a sign that Emily’s love lives on for me forever as well.  Emily is never far from my mind and I had been thinking a lot about her, from recently seeing gymnasts on the balance beam on a TV in a restaurant, to having to explain to someone I just met that my oldest child had died. I had asked her for a sign that she is okay. And I will take this night of forever love songs as that sign. I love Emily always forever. 

Faith, Hope & Courage,