It’s a little after 6 a.m. and I’m sitting by my wife watching her as she sleeps. The table at her bedside is filled with framed photos, cards, and books... all carefully selected by Joey and her sisters.
She was up earlier. Her sister Jody helped give her the morphine injection that goes in her port and helped her to the bathroom and back. A walker with wheels and a seat was delivered here yesterday and when we pulled it out for her this morning, Joey just laughed and said “I can’t use that... it’s for old people.” Then she grabbed the handles and pushed herself out of the room.
When she reached little Indiana playing with toys on the living room rug, she said “come on Indy, mama will take you for a ride.” So I helped Indy onto the seat, and Joey pushed her across the living room, through the kitchen, around the island and table, and back to her toys. Indy grinned ear-to-ear and so did we.
Soon after, I helped Joey back into her room and into the hospital bed. She asked me to bring her a cup of coffee and by the time I returned with her cup... she was sound asleep.
And so here I am.
Drinking her coffee. Thinking. Remembering.
Three years ago I had to say goodbye to one of my very best friends—Tim Johnson. Tim and I had been buddies since I first showed up on Music Row in Nashville with a guitar-case full of dreams. Like me, Tim was a songwriter. He was one the greatest this town has ever seen and he loved a great story. He and I were fortunate to write some wonderful songs together —some of them were big hits on the radio. As a matter of fact, the first song I ever had recorded, the one that ‘bought’ our old farmhouse, I wrote with Tim.
Fast forward a dozen years or so, and Tim had a pain in his lower back that wouldn’t go away, so on Father’s Day. before he and his wife Meg went out to dinner, he stopped by a clinic to have it checked out.
I remember his phone call to me.
Cancer, he said. It had already spread from his colon to the liver.
Neither he, nor I could make any sense of it. How could that be? He was still young and had two young children and a beautiful wife and more songs to write—more stories to tell.
His next year or so were tough, like Joey’s. They did what they could, but in the end, it was what it was.
Tim kept writing songs all the way through it. That’s what great songwriters do—they draw from their life experiences and create meaningful stories to tell the world. But during this time of Tim’s life, it seemed different. He didn’t have to create a fictional character that had something extraordinary to say... he just looked in the mirror and the truth came pouring out of him.
In July of 2012, three months before Tim passed, I asked him to come be part of our television show... to perform a song or two and let us interview him. I was not only Tim’s friend, but I was also a big fan of his voice and his pen and wanted to make sure the world got to see what a gift he had and what a gift he was. Most of the time songwriters go unknown. They write the soundtracks to our lives and then pass away with little acclaim and no applause.
I wanted to make sure that Tim was remembered. And something told me that his song might help someone in their moment of need.
Little did I know that in a short time, that someone-in-need would be me. And Joey. Tim and Megan’s story has become our story and the words he breathed into his song are now our words.
We all want one more, don’t we?
One more day... one more year... one more chance to be the person we know we should be... one more ride for our child around the house in her mama’s walker...
Like my friend Tim... I want my wife to be remembered.
By me. By others who love her even though they’ve never met her.
I guess that’s why I write this blog. I want her sweet voice and her love to live on. And not just outlive her... but to somehow outlive me, and our girls, and even their children.
And so today, as I sit beside my her. I remember my friend Tim and his life and what an inspiration he was to me, and how his words and music are helping get me through this time and speaking to me just when I need them.
And someday when your moment comes with someone you love... maybe, just maybe, you will remember Joey and her words and voice and life will comfort you...
And her song will live on.