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  • Marjorie Robertson

Remembering music, remembering us

Probably like some of you, I've been grieving on multiple levels. It’s hard to put into words because the list of horrors is long.

For the past week, I’ve been listening to the music of Eddie Van Halen and reading heartfelt comments online. People said another great one gone and 2020, the year from hell. Many comments were nostalgic, as they remembered where they were when they heard a song, and it changed their lives for the better. Or music as the soundtrack of our youth. We want to be on the other side of this election, this year, and this pandemic. We want better lives. Ahead are possibilities, risks, and work.

The grief is the realization that Americans have not only lost friends and family but also people who represented us culturally as Americans and who we could look up to and hold onto when feeling lost. EVH wasn’t the only one. We’ve lost beloved people in music, sports, TV, film, the art world, civil rights, and politics. Each of us could name someone we'd call Greatest of All Time off the top of our head. A shared, communal loss, each one, in a year of chipping away at us.

When I find myself feeling nostalgic, I tell myself, focus on the moment, on what you’re doing. But I don’t want to feel what’s happening. Instead, I eat dessert and take a break to remember something unimportant at the time—in the car with friends, at the beach with a crush—while listening to a song.

A memory that now means everything.

Photo: Margaret Robertson taken at a Heart concert

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