Paint it Indigo
Most of the memories from my childhood are covered in sunshine and filled with good friends and the sound of The Indigo Girls in the background. Their harmonies and folksy artsy melodies are some of the pieces of my soul. I know that is all the way cheesy, but those ladies are deep down embedded in the person I am. My brother and I have been listening to them since we were in the womb, our mom’s voice singing loud along with them, her lungs and diaphragm working hard above us.
When I was 13 or 14 or 15, Mom asked me to paint some of their lyrics over an old sign for her, Shine my life like a light was the line, from the song “Let It Be Me.” When I got the sign done, mom put it up on the back deck, she hung it proudly. A small reminder of the important things. A reminder to shine her life and she did. She shined it upon everyone and everything she encountered. That sign hung on her back porch until she died.
It is hard for me to listen to our girls now. It feels like they have bits of her locked in their songs and their words. When I hear their voices, I hear my mom’s right along with them. Their music makes me ache for my mom, for her laugh and her words.
I cannot overstate what this band means to me, what they meant to my mom, and what they still mean to so many people in our circle. The words they wrote have become like Bible verses, sacred and full of wisdom. Guiding stars for how and why to live this life. And my mom made them that way to me in a lot of cases, but as I grew and became aware of the world I found my own bits of theirs to latch onto.
The Indigo Girls have re-centered me more times than I can begin to mention here. Different albums, different songs, but somewhere in their catalogue is the one thing I need to hear and to sing and to shout to the world. Years ago, I was struggling to keep my priorities straight and I heard one of those bits.
And I wish her insight, to battle loves blindness,
Strength from the milk of human kindness,
And a safe place for all the pieces that scattered
To learn to pretend there’s more than love that matters.
I listened to the words and I cried and then I sang them out loud at the dashboard of the car I was driving at the time. I thought about my life and then I got the verse tattooed on my body as a reminder that love is everything. It is the only thing that matters.
The last time I saw my mom we were at an Indigo Girls concert. That show was an incredibly rare occasion for our crew. So many of the essential people managed to make time to come. Mom. Josh. Charles. Holly. Nancy. Paul. Erin. The old crew. The non-blood-related mainstays of my childhood and my life and my mom’s life.
After the show, Josh and I had to come back north but everyone else was staying in a hotel together.
We left her there with so many of our most important people. We left her, and I never thought that it might be our last moment together. I wasn’t thinking anything like that. What I thought was, it is good that they all get this night together, it’s been a long time. So we drove away from them, knowing they would have an incredible night together.
After my mom died, I wrote a letter to our girls. I never sent it because I imagined I might be crazy with grief. I was right. The first lines go like this, “Your biggest fan died in a car crash with her father. She was wonderful, she was an exceptional human being, she was my mom, she was 46.”
I also say a lot of things in the letter that I already stated here. But they are drenched with raw emotion and in some cases, don’t make a whole lot of sense. But the way I finish it is pretty good. I say this.
It hurts me immensely to think of not hearing my mother’s voice sing your words to me again. But I am so happy we all got to see you one last time, all together. I hope to see you again soon and sing along for her and for myself.
Sincerely and with so much love,
I continue to be desperately grateful for my mom and for the gifts she gave to me. One of those gifts was the Indigo Girls. The other is the people who were at that show. The people who continue to include me, to show me love, to check on me, to support me, to be stoked for me, to give a shit about me. That is the greatest fucking gift of all and there is no way I can ever repay that woman except to love the shit out of every single one of those folks forever. And I intend to do that.
If we ever leave a legacy,
It’s that we loved each other well.