If I Held On

If I Held On

I planned to spend the evening enjoying a silent night alone at home, when my plans changed somewhat.  I spent it alone, but it was anything but silent.  As I backed out of my driveway to allow my oldest daughter’s car room to maneuver around it, I ran into an old friend.  Thankfully, not literally, but figuratively and fortuitously.

As I sat in my car, I caught the last few notes of a song that I honestly had all but forgotten.  Once I heard it, though, I could not get it out of my head, and it weighed on my heart the rest of the afternoon and well into the evening.  As I sat by myself in the silence and stillness of my living room, with only the sparkling white lights on our Christmas tree illuminating the room, I contemplated listening to some songs of the season, before deciding otherwise.  It was a wise decision.

Instead of queuing up Christmas classics, I chose to keep company with some timeless music that has accompanied me through many seasons.  I made my way through songs that spanned the decades, and upon hearing the opening notes of each one, I felt as if I were welcoming an old friend into my home. Led Zeppelin.  John Denver.  Rush.  Jane’s Addiction.  Bread.  Zac Brown Band.  Linkin Park.  Foo Fighters.  A Star is Born soundtrack.  And, of course, Pearl Jam.  

Each song conjured up a variety of memories of people I love and of different periods of my life.  When I delved into the familiar and favorite Pearl Jam songs that I so love, I was reminded of the hidden gem that had revealed itself earlier in the day on satellite radio. I sought out the song, but I was not prepared for its re-entry into my life.

When I played Hold On from Pearl Jam’s 2003 album, Lost Dogs, I immediately reconnected with a long-lost friend.  I played it over and over and over again.  I listened and sang along to every version I could get my hands on.  The studio versions.  The live versions.  The acoustic versions.  I had not given that song a second thought before, but now, I felt like I could not go a second without hearing it.  Not in a Glenn Close clicking the light on and off while listening to Madame Butterfly in the film, Fatal Attraction, kind of way.  Rather the way it feels when you are intoxicated by someone’s presence and cannot get enough of them.

The opening notes set the tone for the intense and powerful lyrics that were to follow, and for me, at least, Hold On ignited some equally intense and powerful emotions.  It resonated with me on two levels, the not so distant past and the precious present.  I vividly recalled when I had to hold on when faced with overwhelming anxiety and depression, the losses of loved ones, and a diagnosis of breast cancer.  The past and present collided, leaving me with mixed emotions and a smattering of tears.

My forties definitely were wrought with challenges, and I faced each one with varying degrees of success.  The common denominator in every tough situation was that I chose to hold on, which was not necessarily an obvious or easy choice, as I contemplated letting go on more than one occasion.  Sometimes, letting go is a healthy choice, but this was not one of those times at all.  Letting go meant ending my life.

What kept me holding on for my dear life was not wanting to prove the naysayers who questioned my sanity and character right and not wanting to prove the people who believed in me wrong, in addition to my immense love for my two extraordinary daughters.  Even when I was not sure that I could and would survive the respective challenges that came at me fast and furiously, I held on, thanks to lots of love, support, and help from a number of family members, friends, and professionals.  It takes a village indeed.

As my struggles have lessened, now, I stand by helplessly watching some people who mean so very much to me hold on in the face of their respective hardships.  Cancer.  Addiction.  The end of relationships.  Some of them are holding on with a death grip, while others are beginning to loosen their grip and hold on to hope and the possibilities that the situation will change for the better.  Others have a foot in both of these camps.  No matter where any of them may be, as I sang this song, I offered it up as a prayer for each of them to hold on for another day.

For everyone who is holding on, I am listening to Hold On yet again and want you to keep the refrain in your mind and heart:

I know… life would be different if I… held on. Held on.
I know… I could be something if I… held on.

You may not know this to be true, but I do.  Life will be different, and you can be something.  I now know it for myself, and I know it for you, too.  I really do, so, hold on.

That’s another story . . .

 

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