Bruce Springsteen's The Rising CD was released in 2002. I'm a fan, but for some reason I only recently found myself with a copy of it. My mom gave it to me a few months ago and it sat unlistened to for way too long. A couple of days ago, I took it with me for the drive to work. Initially, a few songs stood out and many others just seemed a bit muddled, trudging along in a bit of that generic Springsteen sound. Of course, our favorite CDs get better with repeated listenings, and this one has the makings of being in the top 10 of the year for me.
As I drove home from work tonight, I listened to "You're Missing" on repeat for what might have been six or seven times. And each time, I found tears trying to do what they do. It's my impression that this song focuses on that spouse that never came home, having perished on 9/11, maybe an employee at the World Trade Center, maybe a rescue worker. And someone is left at home, that home made to share life forever with that perfect match. Only that perfect match will never, in body, be there again. Missing.
In art, we can easily find ourselves living someone else's life if only for five minutes and ten seconds, in the case of this song. In great art, we can really live the pain and/or joy of that life. As a husband to the person I will love forever, as the father to three who give me life's best everyday, I weep at the brief thought that I might one day truly receive that proof of how fleeting life can be. I pray desperately never to need the strength to cope with that. But people have to do that everyday. I wish them peace.
I am reminded now, in late 2005, of the images of the man in Biloxi who lost his wife in Hurricane Katrina. My wife and my mother-in-law were watching the news nonstop. My mother-in-law lived in Biloxi and was staying with us, a car full of her life parked in our Murfreesboro driveway. As I walked through the room, trying to balance my sympathy for my mother-in-law who had a connection to this storm that I did not with the fact that she and my wife were choosing FoxNews as their news channel of choice (not mine!), I saw a man being interviewed who couldn't find his wife. He had truly lost her. He didn't know where she was, whether she was alive or not, whether she was in pain or not. He just kept sobbing, "I can't find my wife. I'm lost, I'm lost." And our household sobbed, too. And our hearts go out to him, and to anyone else in the world experiencing what no one should.
And thanks to artists like Bruce Springsteen, who continue to write so artfully and with such compassion. We buy your CDs, we go to your concerts, and we buy your merchandise. And you give so beautifully of your art, helping to nudge us along that path from entertainment to altruism.
You give us what we want but you also give us what we need. And that's where we find The Rising.
Click here for lyrics and a snippet of "You're Missing".