Resources for Loss

“I’ll Be Here” from the musical "Ordinary Days," contributed by David Peters (2023)

“I’ll Be Here” from Ordinary Days

We got hitched in September, our favorite month
With a rock band that played in this old synagogue

And we bought an apartment on West 17th street
and talked about children and getting a dog.
Our first anniversary came in a flash
And we promised to take the day off
He had to stop into his office that morning
And so I went walking uptown to this bakery I know
When I heard on the street what I thought was a joke
Till I noticed the sirens and saw all the smoke
So I'm running back home with this feeling of dread
To the voicemail he left with the last words he said.

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to ruin your evening by bringing up all of this stuff.
You’re probably wondering why I even called you tonight .
Well, today something happened that spooked me alright:
I saw this storm cloud of papers fall down from the sky,
And I thought of that day, and I started to cry,
When as sure as I breathe, I heard John, clear as day, saying:

“Hey, you’re allowed to move on. It’s okay. Because I’ll be here,
Even if you decide to get rid of my favorite sweater,

Even if you go out on my birthday this year,
Instead of staying at home letting all of life’s moments pass by.
You don’t have to cry, because I’ll be here,
When you start going back to the places we went to together,
When you take off my ring and you let yourself smile,
When you meet some handsome and patient and true,
When he says that he wants to be married to you,
When you call him one night and he meets you downtown,
When you finally answer him ‘Yes’.”

Yes. Jason, I will marry you, I will give you my heart.
It has taken so long, but I’m ready to start.
Right now, John’s whispering “Congrats” in my ear
’Cause I finally let myself tell you that I will be here.

The song “I’ll Be Here” from the musical Ordinary Days by American composer Adam Gwon is about a fictional character Claire’s journey of allowing herself to love again after her husband died on 9/11. Many aspects of the song are reminiscent of past course material; Claire cannot let go of her husband’s favorite sweater, and retreats into her house for years following her loss. However, this song adds new texture to the phenomenon of hearing voices of the deceased by showing how it helped Claire be ready to love again after loss. She is terrified of commitment until a scare allows her to hear the voice of her first husband, who tells her it is ok to move on. When she agrees to marry her long-term partner, she imagines her first husband whispering “Congrats” in her ear, showing how ongoing communication with the dead doesn’t have to keep her stuck in the past but can also help her recover from pathological grief.

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