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I'll Fly Away

For the past several months, since my sister introduced me to K-Love 107.1, I have listened almost exclusively to Christian music. I don't listen to the radio that much, but on the few occasions I'm in the car alone, I love to crank up praise and worship music. It gives me the homey feeling of a little country chapel, where everyone worships together and then feasts on fried chik'n (it's my dream), potato salad, and baked beans on the banks of a river. Most of my actual experience with churches looks and feels nothing like that, so this music is particularly comforting.

I like music, but I prefer silence most of the time except when I'm exercising or cleaning. Lately, though, I enjoy it--need it, even--when I'm showering. The day my dad died, I had a very bad feeling. Two days before, I had seen him, and it shook me how bad he looked. The light was gone from his eyes. He hardly joked. And when I asked him if he was feeling bad, he simply shrugged, and said, "I'm just old and tired." That morning, with that image in my head, I prayed fervently that if it was God's will, He would take my dad peacefully to heaven. Then I got in the shower, oddly comforted as the pounding water drowned out my sobs and washed away my tears. I stayed in there and cried until the water ran cold.

Two hours later God took him. I'm not used to having prayers answered I felt guilty. Responsible, even, as if I'd killed my dad.

Every time I go in my bathroom, I experience that morning again.

After several mornings of slathering my eyes with Preparation H--it really does reduce the swelling, and only Lily was bold enough to mention the odd smell--I decided to turn on some music. Pandora must have some good Jesus music, I mused, and my search quickly elicited traditional country hymns. Johnny Cash's voice reached straight to my heart and reassured me, "Some glad morning when this life is over, I'll fly away. To a home on God's celestial shore..." And suddenly, instead of crying in my shower, I was dancing. And giggling.

This was my dad's music. These are the records he played on the big old record player in the play room, as my mom and I played cards on the floor. Years later, on an eight-hour ride home from New York, we spoke very little, while listening to Randy Travis sing of just about every dilemma a person could face. He didn't mention my particular dilemma: 20, pregnant, just gave up my dream of moving to New York City to be a writer. But as the hours passed, my disappointment diminished, and I came home ready to be a mom, someday a wife, and not a New Yorker.

Funny, how that drive with my dad and Randy Travis sticks out in my memory. Even though we barely talked, he had a way of just being with me that brought me great comfort. Therapeutic silence, maybe. Sometimes Brad and the kids make fun of me and my "Jesus music." They roll their eyes, make snide remarks, and change the station. Someday, I wonder if the same music will comfort them.


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