Between some, the letters still pass between mailboxes, from south Mississippi to west Tennessee. With others the conversations have stilled, but the memories still carry us. With some, I've wondered, "Do they know I still love them so?" and I know with their presence, they love me, too.
And many of those same ones in that room, listening, watching, make up pieces of the melodies and lyrics they heard. Do they know? It's hard to tell.
But one thing is true and always will be: if I love you at all, pieces of you are mixed up with pieces of me. You are these songs and these stories.
When I'm sitting across the room from an interesting conversation or tucked away in the corner, reading a book that's revealing too much of myself to me... a song is starting.
When I'm reading your letter, from many years ago or from yesterday, of heartache and pain and love twisted and turned... a song is starting.
When you've told me I've hurt you, and I raise the shield, afraid of my own self... a song is starting.
My brain never stops writing. Lines and lines of poetry swim around in my head and, if I'm quick enough, spill out onto the page. You may never hear them, but they are there.
And if you do hear them, give me grace. I must write. I must sing. Because I love you.