In the early summer of 1972, the day the music died, I was a mere tween and a lazy, sultry Friday afternoon found me spending the night with my BFF, Sherree. We had made lots of plans, which mostly included talking about everything under the sun, including, I’m sure, our latest Tiger Beat magazine poster sized centerfold straight-out-of-the-pages-and-onto-our-bedroom-walls heartthrobs – David Cassidy, Donnie Osmond and Bobby Sherman – and listening to some 70’s music! And hopefully, we would have been hanging out and eating my best friend’s mom’s boiled shrimp and cocktail sauce (the best cocktail sauce I’ve ever had).
At the time, my dad coached Little League. Actually, (let me brag on my dad for just a second) he pretty much single-handedly started the Little League program in my small hometown. So every spring and early summer was spent at the ball field. I learned to run the concession stand, along side my sister, Melinda, when I was 11 or 12. I later graduated to helping mom keep score and eventually, even announcing the next batter over the loudspeaker, while cheering on our brothers as they excelled in America’s pastime, the game of baseball.
It was late afternoon on that particular day, when all of a sudden we heard the crunch of tires and the squeal of brakes. We ran to the window to see my mom’s car in the driveway. My brother (who also happened to be my friend’s boyfriend at the time) sprinted up the steps of the porch yelling for me to get in the car. I yelled back, “No, I’m spending the night with Sherree.” And that’s when he shouted those five words I hope to never, ever hear again; “The house is on fire!” I argued with him while swirling accusations at him, thinking that he was playing a mean trick on us, not wanting to believe that there was any truth in his statement.
I jumped in the car and we sped toward our home. As we got closer, we could see grayish black smoke billowing up into the sky. We arrived at our country home as the walls came tumbling down. Literally. Our house was engulfed with flames and nothing could be done and nothing could be saved. Thank God that we were not home at the time. The fire marshal believed that the fire had been caused by a lightning storm.
And, of course, my tween mind sped, first of all, toward the things that I had lost:
- All of our pictures – wedding pics of mom and dad, baby pics of us, school pics, dance recital pics, all the pics were destroyed.
- My bedroom suite – My sister and I had just got a new bedroom suite. And all of our new summer clothing. I still remember the cutest Lacoste dress hanging in my closest with the tags still on it. I had never worn it.
- The just finished remodeling job went up in smoke. Our mom and dad had just remodeled our house, including covering the hardwood floors with the newest rage – wall to wall carpeting – my, how times and trends have changed.
- My oldest brother’s graduation gifts – He had just graduated from high school and was preparing to leave for college in the fall. All of his gifts were gone!
I could go on and on, but you get the drift. I felt like I had lost a good friend and that there was a part of me that was missing.
That evening, after things had settled down a bit, my friend’s high school aged sisters (whom we though were the cutest, hippest girls in town) took Sherree, my sister and me to eat at Dairy Queen. As I look back on that night, I realize how they were trying to not only feed us, but to help get our minds off of the tragedy of that day.
I still remember the hopelessness I felt – that day the music died. Grief enveloped me like a dark cloak and tried to choke me. It forced me to have feelings inside that I had never felt before. But I also remember the aftermath.
Just like the Phoenix rising from the ashes in Greek Mythology, my family also rose up from that horrible day – that day the music died.
- My parents knew they would rebuild and originally planned to rebuild on that same acreage. That was before my siblings and I interfered and begged them to buy a large lot in town. (We wanted to be where the action was!) They caved and rebuilt in a subdivision referred to as “the pecan orchard.” They still reside there today and my French Provincial canopy bed, along with the rest of the matching set, is still in my childhood bedroom. 🙂 And they still own the country place, complete with a pond and cabin that they later built.
- Our entire town came together and gave our family the biggest “anything goes” shower. I kid you not, my mom was still opening sets of sheets 10 years later. Churches, businesses and individuals stopped by with financial gifts. We were overwhelmed at the outpouring of love and support.
- My aunt Jane (read about her here) sent us all photo books for Christmas a couple of years ago with lots of pictures of us growing up. I wept when I opened that gift! Now, if I could just find copies of my dance recital pics!
- Throughout it all, God was always there. He was a source of comfort and strength during one of the most difficult times in my family’s life.
Psalm 18:2 – The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
Phil. 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
And as we rebuilt our house, our lives, our home, I slowly arrived at the realization that the music never died, it just skipped a few beats.
Romans 8: 25 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
John 16:33 – In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
God is good all the time, even when the road is rough and the music seems to be fading.
I realize that our tragedy is nowhere near the heartbreak of losing a friend or loved one. But it was a loss. Have you suffered a tragedy? How did you get through it?