My cousin left just when I could meet her

1-2294178890032697159xXtvaZ_fsI wrote a song. Weird, huh? It’s not like I am particularly good at it. But the bigger question is, Why?

Because it’s exactly one week since my cousin died, and art is the only way I know how to begin to handle it.

The way my mom tells me, she was found at home, in bed, just about now  . . .  the same time as I write this. It was some kind of overdose. She was just 41 years old. She was about 3 months older than me. We used to play together–a lot. I admired her through most of my childhood, and spent my teen years scared of her powerful mix of intellect and street smarts.

I used my 20s to distance myself from anything near my cracker home, which definitely cast a shadow on my delicate relationship with her–and with most of my family. I spent my 30s re integrating my past and present. And now just as we hit our 40s, and I’m starting to feel at home in my skin, she’s gone.

How do I feel? Shock doesn’t even begin to explain it. Shock. Sad. Pain. Loss. Love. Anger.

This morning,  a good friend invited me to her house for brunch. She’s working through her own life issues, beautifully, a dancer among us.  With Christmas around the corner, one of the things she’s struggled with is her first Christmas since she’s left her husband–a nice guy but just not forever-partner material for her.

As casually as if she was discussing the chill weather, she tossed off, “I have these lines floating in my head:

We’re living in a half way house
I’m halfway in; you’re halfway out . . .”

She told me she didn’t know how to finish the lyric, but she imagined it as some kind of country western riff. Something that could be big in Nashville.

I heard an Emmylou encore in my head.

Her challenge to me was to finish the lines.

Maybe she didn’t realize how much I had my cousin on my mind. Or how much the half-way house–half in, half out of real life–matters to me right now. I feel so grateful, after many years of not knowing where to call home, I have moved into “my real life” finally in my 40s. It’s messy, but it’s mine.

So here’s the “country western” poem for my friend. I was wondering what to get her anyway.

For J. on Christmas 2013:

We’re living in a half way house
You’re half way in
I’m half way out
I’m never one to scream or shout
But I’d like to get out of the half way house

I think on home, and what it means
I think on dreams;  what I believe
Yet I’m living in this half way house
Halfway home and halfway out

What if life were all it could be
What if you and me were real
What if life were all it should be
What if we had more than this raw deal

What if life were all it could be
What if you and me were real
What if life were all it should be
What if we had more than this raw deal

But we’re livin’ in a halfway house
I’m half way in . . . You’re halfway out
Don’t know if I’m mad or proud

Because it’s really time one of us got out

Cause we’re living in a halfway house
Halfway home or halfway out
I’m never one to scream or shout
But I’m gonna find my own way out.

Yes, I’m gonna find my own way out.