The first six weeks of 2016 have been hard ones for music lovers, particularly for us Boomers as we have seen so many of the musical icons of our youth pass away. The death of Maurice White last week especially saddened me. The music of Earth, Wind & Fire comprised much of the soundtrack of my life during my college days and so many of my memories of that time are wrapped up in their songs. I mean, true story, I actually did go out with one of my main crushes on the 21st night of September, so you don’t need to ask me “do you remember?” Heck, yeah, I do!
Last Friday morning I pulled out all of my Earth, Wind & Fire CDs and had my own private concert for a couple hours. I think I listened to “Love’s Holiday” about ten times in a row. Even after years of listening, that one still reduces me to emotional rubble. It remains one of my favorites despite the fact that back in the day I made some questionable decisions under its influence on a lonely Saturday night. (Note to self: Go back in time and DON’T call him!) Ah, but what’s youth without a little humiliation at the hands of the opposite sex?
Youthful indiscretion aside, my brief love’s holiday in the past was an enormously enjoyable one, in large part because everyone I loved still lived there—healthy, happy and whole. Our lives in that magical bubble of time had not yet been touched by death or disease; tragedy and loss were not yet part of our vocabulary. We still greeted every day with the confident expectation born of innocence. And the wonderful music of Earth, Wind & Fire was there, backing it all up.
Inevitably, of course, my holiday had to end. It was time to return to the present, the present where sadness and loss have ruled of late, where I no longer have all of my loved ones here with me, healthy, happy and whole. And while there is no denying the sadness I feel at their absence, I am grateful for the rich legacies they have left behind. I need look no further than the rooms of my house for tangible reminders of their graciousness and generosity toward me. In the paintings and pottery made by their own hand and the many photos of our treasured—and often loony— times together, they live on. In the million memories of the words, touches and looks that passed between us, they live on. And now and then if the longing to be closer to them overwhelms me, I will take a little love’s holiday and revisit those happy days we spent together.
And I have Maurice White and his incredible legacy of music to thank for that.