Where is he now, the man with the beard, the one I loved and lost? The one who had a 50/50 death sentence on his head. The one who wanted to go ahead and have the child. The child who might suffer and die a horrible death. How could I have done that? What would it be like to give life to a ticking time bomb?
We were in Nashville, Tennessee in the fall when it happened. I sang at Tootsie’s bar to an audience of two, we had a beer, we were fish out of water, and it was too cold to have a dip in the guitar shaped pool and have fun. Things went wrong, the man with the beard left for New Orleans. He rang to say that the person in the room next door had been shot.
I had the good fortune to meet a kind lady who took me under her wing, we went to church, got given advice on how to use positive thinking for business and ate cake. I had my demo tape with me, I managed to speak to a couple of bigwigs, but I didn’t get very far, ‘not enough country‘ they said. You may say ‘what were you thinking? Pipe dreams are just pipe dreams.’ I came home and realised I had to face some different sort of music.
You can end a life with just one pill, you take it, and you are haunted, the nurses don’t care, and you are lost. The man with the beard wouldn’t take the test, of course not, what you don’t know can’t hurt you. His friends told him I should go to hell … I did. I hope he came through. I wish on all the stars in the sky that he is safe and well. I don’t know, it seems so long ago. Our baby has no grave, just a twist in my heart.
Perhaps that’s why God never granted me the gift of a child in this life – a punishment for my decision. Was it the right choice? I feel it was. Drunkenness was my downfall coupled with the hedonism of youth, although I wasn’t that young. Make of it what you will, I have been punished.
In Shamanism they talk about the ancestors, those who have gone before, helping us all out in this strange earthly story. I hope the ancestors are looking after my children in spirit; there might well be a throng to meet me at my passing. Maybe then I’ll get to read them bed-time stories and play with them in the snow and the sea.
I’m older now, my mortality stares me down sometimes, but am defiant and say, ‘I see you, but you don’t scare me.’ Obviously I will not live on in the hearts and minds of my progeny, but I will live on in the whispers in the wind through the trees and in the earth that nourishes life.
Where is the man with the beard now? The one I loved and lost.
Helen is a teacher living in the South of England. She still sings, but only in the car and in the shower. Her guitar is gathering dust.