Life in the Turn Lane

It’s been four years since Dane died. Every year around this time we move foggily through the limbo days between his fall and his passing two weeks later.  For those […]

March 27, 2018 // Tracy Shaffer // No Comments //

It’s been four years since Dane died. Every year around this time we move foggily through the limbo days between his fall and his passing two weeks later.  For those who didn’t know him, my late/former husband was extraordinary, a  person you’ll only meet once in a lifetime; intelligent, handsome, creative, an amazing cook with a corny sense of humor and a tremendous amount of charm. In the years since he left I haven’t heard from him much, a few dreams but nothing too loud. I’m used to hearing from my soulmates in the Great Beyond. They reach out in ways others might not notice but to me seem distinct and clear. Things happen to remind us of them long after they’re gone. Books mysteriously open to a meaningful page, a song comes on your shuffle at a meaningful moment– long after life returns to “normal” we are reminded of their ways and how they touched our lives.Whether you call it coincidence or imagination, we’ve all felt our loved ones brushing our cheek with a breeze.

So… after a four year silence, this year he’s gotten noisy. Things only we would know drop in my lap, things I never see show up on my street, signs that seem undeniable (to me) appear daily. I won’t go into the things that’ll make you think I’m crazy, just a little oddity in a string of pearls. The other night I was watching the final episode of the FX series, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, when I spotted a pink Cadillac radio hanging on the wall next to “Andrew Cunanan’s” bedside. This would be pretty normal for a show set in the late 90’s, right? And though I’ve never seen one of them in film or TV before, it caught my attention in these limbo weeks.  In the 80’s, as his soap opera days were getting shorter, Dane and a partner started a novelty company called Popworks. One of the things they were known for was this 1959 Cadillac tail-fin boombox and this jukebox cassette player.  Not “iconic” but they were a pretty big deal at the time and thirty years later they live on in pop culture. Why did this show up this week?

Perhaps I’m making things up, stringing random events together and attaching significance to them as is my wont. Or maybe I’ve followed the turn signals, rounded a corner in the slow circle of grief, moved beyond anger into a place of openhearted acceptance. Turning points are important, bringing what was hidden into sight, informing the journey, revealing the forks and spoons in the road ahead.  Our world is at a turning point, our nation’s identity is shape shifting on our watch, chirping our disbelief, apathy and outrage on social media. The world stands, slack-jawed as we relinquish global leadership at the hands of a temperamental amateur. Until Saturday, when the student survivors of the Parkland shooting stood up straight and said ENOUGH to the politics of gun violence. The world took notice as a new group of leaders was revealed, leaders who were children six weeks ago, became the voices of their generation and renewed our hope. Regardless of where you stand on the “gun issue”, you must admit the strength and courage of these young people,  focused on a mission to make sure that no one has to go through the horror they’ve gone through, is impressive. I’d be in a ball under my bed.

All of this brings me to the notion of what we leave behind. Of course, Dane left more than a boombox, August and Gabriel are the true legacy of our time together and nothing I do will top that. The question is, what mark will our footsteps leave on the planet? We marched on Saturday and that mattered. We have more impact than we give ourselves credit for in a mockingbird culture where the shine of celebrity catches our attention as if attention alone were the mark of validity. Our concern for others matters, the kindness we show ourselves matters, the time we spend here is brief and meaningful, even if only to the someone who will string together snips of song and circumstance to hold you ever in their experience.

Today, do what matters.